The surname of GILBEY was a locational name 'of Gilby' a hamlet in County Lincolnshire, so called from the Old Norman personal names GILLI and BYR, literally meaning the dweller on the farm settlement. Local names usually denoted where a man held his land, and indicated where he actually lived. Surnames as we recognise them today are believed to have been introduced by the Normans after the Invasion of 1066. The first mention of such names appears in the Domesday Book and they were progressively adopted between the 11th and 15th centuries. It was the nobles and upper classes who first assumed a second name, setting them apart from the common people who continued to use only the single name given to them at birth. It was not until the reign of Edward II (1307-1327) that is became common practice to use a secondary name, originally a name reflecting the place of birth, a nickname, an occupational name or a baptismal name which had been passed on from a parent to the child, as an additional means of identification. Early records of the name mention John Gilbeson, County Somerset, during the reign of Edward III (1327-1377). Thomas Gilby of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Later instances of the name include Richard Gilbye who registered at Oxford University in the year of 1571. John Gilby and Mary Jecklin were married at St. George's, Hanover Square, London in 1794. Sir Walter Gilbey (1831-1914) was the English wine merchant, born in Bishop's Stortford. He was founder of the well-known wine company, horse-breeder and agriculturist. In many parts of central and western Europe, hereditary surnames began to become fixed at around the 12th century, and have developed and changed slowly over the years. As society became more complex, and such matters as the management of tenure, and in particular the collection of taxes were delegated to special functionaries, it became imperative to distinguish a more complex system of nomenclature to differentiate one individual from another. The associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884.
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