This is a locational name which derives from one of the several places in England called Ashby or from residence at a farm (byr) amongst ash trees or owned by one called "Ash". In this case "Ash" is a personal name which like "byr" or "by" is of Norse-Viking origins, from the pre 9th Century period. The name is frequently found in the Lincolnshire, Leicestershire and East Midlands region, an area which was long under Norse influence. In the modern idiom the name has four variant spellings; Ashby, Ashbe, Ashbee, and Ashbey. One group of Ashby's trace their ancestry back to William de Ashby (1240 - 1299) Lord of the Manor of Ashby Magna, Leicester, whilst George Ashby (circa 1475) was Clerk to King Henry VI. Sir John Ashby (deceased 1693) was Admiral of the Blue and fought at Bantry Bay in 1668. Examples of church recordings include Jacob Ashbee, the son of William and Anne, who was christened at Rochester, Kent on April 10th 1660, and John Ashbee, a witness at Herne Bay, Kent on July 13th 1794. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert de Aschebi, which was dated 1200, in the Court of Pleas, Norfolk, during the reign of King John, nicknamed "Lackland", 1199 - 1216. 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.