The surname of WEATHERBY was an English habitation name from WETHERBY in West Yorkshire, so called from the Old Norman word VEOR + BYR, literally meaning the dweller at the farm-settlement. It was a market town in the parish of Spofforth. 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, a 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.The name is also spelt WEATHERSBY, WETHERSBY, WETHERBY and WETHERSBIE. 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 most 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.The name has survived better in the United States than in England. The Muster of the Inhabitants of the College; Land in Virginia taken 23th January 1624 include Bartholomew WETHERSBIE aged 30, who sailed from England in 'the Providence' in 1616, and Dorythie WETHERSBIE, aged 30, who arrived in the 'Mary and James' Ship in 1620.
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