Origins of the surname Umpleby

This is an English and specifically Yorkshire locational surname of some confusion. Recorded as Umpelby, Umpleby, Umplebye and possibly others, the famous Victorian etymologist, Canon Charles Bardsley writing in the year 1880, found eleven recordings of the surname in the Modern Domesday Book for the West Riding of Yorkshire in 1873. However he failed to find any indication as to where the name originated. Professor P H Reaney writing in 1955 considered that it originated from Anlaby, a village near the city of Hull, and he quoted a recording of William de Anlauby in 1289. However one must say that Anlaby as a spelling is a very long way from Umpleby, although in the famous Domesday Book of 1086 the place spelling is given as Umlouebi, although it had become Anlawby by 1234. What is important is that both these recordings are well before the introduction of surnames for the mass of the population from about 1350. Our view is that the surname originates from Uppleby, in former times a separate village, but now part of the small market town of Easingwold which lies between York and Thirsk. Uppleby means the upper settlement, from a combination of Old English and the Danish-Viking word "-byr". Another alternative is that the surname is from some now "lost" medieval village. This is always possible as some five thousand surnames of the British Isles do originate from places of which the only reminder in modern times is the surname itself. Lastly, locational surnames are usually "from" names. That is surnames given to people after they left their original homes to move somewhere else. The easiest method of identification for strangers who were stopping, was to call them by the name of their former homes. As few could spell and local dialects were very thick, this lead to "sounds like" spellings . --

This page belongs to the Eucalypt Family History collection, maintained by Ryk Field. Reach me by email to: