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Barnby History

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A History of the Surname Barnby

The surname Barnby is believed to have originated from the Saxons, a fair skinned race arriving in England from the Rhine Valley somewhere about the year 400 AD. They landed and settled on the south-east coast and, through the next 400 years moved north and westward.

The Vikings arrived in force in East Anglia in 866, and in 870 they killed the East Anglian king, Edmund.

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However, it was not until after the Treaty of Wedmore in 878, agreed between Alfred the Great of Wessex and Guthrum of Denmark, that Viking settlement of East Anglia began in earnest.

As the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle put it, Guthrum's Viking army proceeded to `share out' the land, which remained part of the Danelaw for the next 40 years. In Suffolk, there still remains a village with the name Barnby, as do several other places further north.

The surname Barnby is found in many archives, and depending upon the scribe, has been recorded as either of the following variations - Barnby, Barneby, Barnaby, Bernaby, Burnaby and Barnabie. Changes in spelling even occurred between father and son – it was not uncommon for a person to have a birth registered with one variation, a marriage recorded with another, and yet another variation to appear on the gravestone.

In Yorkshire, the Barnby family has a descendency line from the Lords of Barnby at Barnby Hall, Calthorne, that can be traced back to approximately 1000 AD.

By 1550, the Barnby family had acquired the estates of Brockhampton in Herefordshire where there is much recent history, and Colchester in Essex. Present family seats are situated at Llanerch-y-Coed, Longworth and Saltmarshe Castle.

Between the 16th and 18th centuries, England was ravaged by religious conflict. Cromwell’s flourishing Protestant following were out to destroy all but the most ardent of Roman Catholics. Many established families that refused the protestant rule were to suffer the consequences, their land, titles, estates and status were all removed.

They were disturbing times, and the New World beckoned the adventurous. Included amongst the first migrants to settle in Virginia, North America were John Barnabie in 1620, as well as James Barnaby and Sarah Barnaby in 1640.

During the American War of Independence, many loyalists made their way north to Canada and became known as the United Empire Loyalists. They were granted equivalent lands along the banks of the St Lawrence River and in the Niagara Peninsula.

Many coats of arms have been granted to different branches of the family name. The most ancient being: -

Black with a gold lion between three shellfish. The crest is a lion sleeping.

The ancient family motto for the family is "Virtute non Vi", for which I have two contradictory translations: one is "Virtue, but not by force": while the other is "Virtue, but also strength".

Original Source of Information:

Andrew Rogerson
British Archaeology, no 35, June 1998
Vikings and the new East Anglian towns.


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