This distinguished surname, borne by the Barons de Broke, de Eresby and de Parham, and having more that thirty individual Coats of Arms, is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational name from any of the various places named with the Olde English pre 7th Century "wilig" meaning "willow", plus the Olde English "by", from the Olde Norse "byr", a settlement or homestead. These places include Willoughby in Lincolnshire, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and Warwickshire, which all appear as "Wilgebi" in the Domesday Book of 1086.One branch of the Lincolnshire family trace their descent from William de Willoughby, witness, whose name is recorded in law suits of that county, dated 1200 - 1202. They hold the titles Earls of Ancaster and Barons Middleton. Among the several notable namebearers listed in the "Dictionary of National Biography" are Sir Robert Willoughby", first Baron Willoughby de Broke, (1452 - 1502), Admiral of the Fleet, 1490, and Marshal of the army, 1492; Francis Willoughby, fifth Baron Willoughby of Parham, (1613 - 1666), Lord-lieutenant and Commander-in-chief in Lincolnshire, and Sir Nesbit Josiah Willoughby, (1777 - 1849), naval Aide-de-camp to Queen Victoria in 1841. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert de Wilgebi, which was dated 1175, "Early Yorkshire Charters", during the reign of King Henry 11, "The Builder of Churches", 1154 - 1189. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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