- Now recorded as Godby, Goodby, Goodbye, and possibly others, this is an English surname of great antiquity. It is probably an anagram of 'God be with you' which in later times became 'fused' as Goodbye, or it may lie somewhere between the surnames Godber and Gobey, which in themselves were originally derivatives of the Anglo-Saxon pre 8th century personal name 'Godebald.' This translates literally as 'bold god', and relates to a pagan belief, although this was later usurped by the Christians. However, it is also a possibility that this name like Godber could be a medieval nickname for an innkeeper who supplied or brewed 'good beer.' Although this is not proven, the earliest recordings do suggest this is the origin. Whatever the ultimate meaning the name is medieval and one of the first recorded. It was also an early 'emigrant' to the new British American colonies, with Jone Godby being recorded in the first muster of the future state of Virgina on February 1623. The earliest of all known recordings though is believed to be that of John Godebold in the Subsidy Tax rolls for London in 1371, and later that of John Godbehere in the 34 year of the reign of King Henry V1th in 1456. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
Surnames reference. 2013.