This surname of ABNEY was of the locational group of surnames, from a place so called in Derbyshire. The name was originally rendered in the Old English form ABENEIA, and literally meant the dweller at the island belonging to Abba. The earliest of the name on record appears to be HABENAI (without surname) who was listed as a tenant in the Domesday Book of 1066. Surnames derived from placenames are divided into two broad categories; topographic names and habitation names. Topographic names are derived from general descriptive references to someone who lived near a physical feature such as an oak tree, a hill stream or a church. Habitation names are derived from pre-existing names denoting towns, villages and farmsteads. Other classes of local names include those derived from the names of rivers individual houses with signs on them, regions and whole countries. ABBENEIA (without surname) was recorded in Derbyshire in 1200, and Abelola Abbenee was documented in Suffolk in the year 1277. Surnames as we know them today were first assumed in Europe from the 11th to the 15th Century. They were not in use in England or in Scotland before the Norman Conquest, and were first found in the Domesday Book. The employment in the use of a second name was a custom that was first introduced from the Normans. They themselves had not long before adopted them. It became, in course of time, a mark of gentler blood, and it was deemed a disgrace for gentlemen to have but one single name, as the meaner sort had. At first the coat of arms was a practical matter which served a function on the battlefield and in tournaments. With his helmet covering his face, and armour encasing the knight from head to foot, the only means of identification for his followers, was the insignia painted on his shield and embroidered on his surcoat, the flowing and draped garment worn over the armour. A notable member of this name was Sir William de Wiveleslie ABNEY (l844-l920). He was an English chemist and educationalist born in Derby . He was the assistant secretary (l899) and advisor (l903) to the Board of Education and he was known for his researches in photographic chemistry and colour photography and did important pioneer work in photographing the solar spectrum.
The name is also spelt ABNEE. The associated coat of arms is recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884. Registered at Measham Hall, County Derbyshire.
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