This is a rare English locational surname, from either the village of Ranby in the county of Lincolnshire, or Ranby village in the adjoining county of Nottinghamshire. Both places are first recorded in the famous Domesday Book of 1086 as Ranebi, and both have their origins in the famous Vikings, who controlled the area for several centuries. The place name and hence the later surname is believed to translate as "Rani's farm", with Rani being an early pre 7th century personal name of uncertain meaning. Locational surnames are usually "from" names. That is to say names given to people after they left their original homestreads to move somewhere else. This often meant a clean break from the region and an opportunity to head for London town, and its streets paved with gold (!). A few Ranby's did that but others stayed in the English Midlands as in the recording of Thomas Ranbie of Edwinstone on June 12th 1684, and William Ranby of North Wheatley, both Nottinghamshire, on August 18th 1717. The name seems to be particularly associated with the town of Worksop, on the Nottinghamshire - Yorkshire border.