This is a surname of at least two possible origins. Firstly it may be Maltese, and a form of Serb, and as such describing a person from the country known as Serbia, although it may also be used in a generic term to describe a foreigner or stranger. As such it was cognate with the French word "waleis" which also means a foreigner although originally specific to a Breton or Celt, and describing a person from Wales. The second possibility is that it is a metonymic job description which in its earliest useage described a carpenter, but later became more specific for a ship builder. In this case the derivation is from the words Zareba or Zarba, said to be a mid-European word of pre 10th century Hungarian and Czech descent. It is not clear as to when the name was first recorded, but early surviving church registers of the island of Malta include that of Paul John Zarb, who in the year 1818, was baptised at St. Paul's Church, in the capital city of Valetta. This was during the reign of King George IIIrd of England, and known to history as "Farmer George", 1760 - 1820. 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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