This is one of those unusual surnames which is very rare, although reasonably well recorded. However, the origins are less obvious and fall into two separate possibilities. The first is Old English pre 7th Century deriving from "Wohburneg" - a compound which translates as "The island on the winding stream" as in the modern village of Woburn, Bedfordshire. The second is as an Anglicization of the Old French "de Aubigny" - The Earls of Arundel, who are recorded in the 1086 Domesday Book as being from Saint Aubin d'Autigny in the French department of Ille-et-Vilaine. This name is also recorded as Dabney, Bobney and Habney. The modern "Obeney", is very uncommon, only four entries appearing in the 1988, London Street Directory. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Kathleen Obeny, which was dated August 20th 1613, christened at St. Martins-in-the-Field, Westminster, during the reign of King James 1 of England and V1 of Scotland, 1603 - 1625. 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.