- Despite its modern appearance Mos(e)by is a variant form of the ancient locational surname 'Moresby' which derives from the village of Moorby, in Lincolnshire. This village was recorded as "Morebi" in the 1086 Domesday Book, and as Moreby in the 1254 Valuation of East Anglia. The origin is Norse-Viking "Mora-byr", translating as the farm or place (byr) by the fens (mora). The name has many spellings which include Moresby, Moreby, Mosby, Mossbee, etc., and is widely scattered, being found as far afield as Port Moresby in New Guinea, named after Admiral Moresby in the 18th century. The wide variation of spellings suggest that in the 15th century the village was "cleared" either through plague, civil war or the Enclosure Acts which enabled the landlord to enclose the commons, depriving the tenants of their grazing rights. The villagers forced to seek other habitations would take as their surname, the name of their village, and as spelling was rudimentary, and local dialects very strong, this lead to the development of "sounds like" spelling forms. Examples of the name spellings include John Moseby, a christening witness at St. Giles, Cripplegate, on april 28th 1622 and Edward Mossbee, the son of Henry Mossbee, christened at St Dunstans Church, Stepney, on March 1st 1639. A later example was Elizabeth Mousby, also recorded as Mosby and Moresby, who married James Johnson at the church of St Martins in the Field, Westminster on May 21st 1799. The Coat of Arms most associated with the name is silver, on a blue bend, three six pointed pierced mullets in gold. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Elena de Moreby, which was dated 1379, in the Poll Tax Rolls of Yorkshire, during the reign of King Richard 11, known as "Richard of Bordeaux", 1377 - 1399. 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.