The surname of QUARNBY was an east Midlands habitation name from Quarmby in West Yorkshire, in the parish of Huddersfield, recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as CORNEBI, apparently from the Old Norman KVERN, literally meaning the dweller at the farm-settlement by the mill. The name was brought into England in the wake of the Norman Invasion of 1066. QUERNEBY (without surname) was recorded in Yorkshire in 1237. Most of the place-names that yield surnames are usually of small communities, villages, hamlets, some so insignificant that they are now lost to the map. A place-name, it is reasonable to suppose, was a useful surname only when a man moved from his place of origin to elsewhere, and his new neighbours bestowed it, or he himself adopted it. Other records of the name mention Edwin Wharmby who was recorded in Lancashire during the reign of Edward III (1327-1377) and Willelmus de Querenby of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Many factors contributed to the establishment of a surname system. For generations after the Norman Conquest of 1066 a very few dynasts and magnates passed on hereditary surnames, but the main of the population, with a wide choice of first-names out of Celtic, Old English, Norman and Latin, avoided ambiguity without the need for a second name. As society became more stabilized, there was property to leave in wills, the towns and villages grew and the labels that had served to distinguish a handful of folk in a friendly village were not adequate for a teeming slum where perhaps most of the householders were engaged in the same monotonous trade, so not even their occupations could distinguish them, and some first names were gaining a tiresome popularity, especially Thomas after 1170. The hereditary principle in surnames gained currency first in the South, and the poorer folk were slower to apply it. By the 14th century however, most of the population had acquired a second name. Later instances include Alexander de Quernby who appears in the year 1437 in East Cheshire and John Warren married Margary Quarmeby in Prestbury, County Cheshire in the year of 1589. The name is also spelt Quarmby and Wharmby.
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