This most interesting surname is of Anglo-Saxon and Old Scandinavian origin, and is a locational name from some minor, unrecorded or now "lost" place, believed to have been located somewhere in the north-east of England. An estimated seven to ten thousand villages and hamlets are known to have disappeared from maps since the 12th Century, due to such natural causes as the Black Death of 1348, in which an eighth of the population perished, and to the widespread practice of enforced "clearing" and enclosure of rural lands for sheep pastures from the 15th Century onwards. This placename was composed of the Olde English pre 7th Century personal name "Canna", and the Olde English "by", from the Old Norse "byr, boer", a settlement, village; hence, "Canna's by". However, Canby may also be of topographical origin, for a dweller by a settlement in a valley, from the Olde English "canna", a deep valley, and "by", as above. Early recordings include: the christening of Christopher Caynbie on September 27th 1567, at Horncastle, Lincolnshire; the marriage of John Canbey and Joan Birckes on September 9th 1571, at Rotherham, Yorkshire; and the marriage of Thomas Canby and Marie Cromwell on January 16th 1620, at St. Gregory by St. Paul's, London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Walter Canebe, which was dated 1566, a christening witness at Thorne, Yorkshire, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, known as "Good Queen Bess", 1558 - 1603. 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.