I find names fascinating, and the other day I saw the name Oxtoby above a shop; I had actually heard of it before but had never seen it written down and I began to wonder about its origins. There are plenty of  surnames beginning with ‘ox’ or ‘oxen’, possibly from an occupation, the same as shepherd, and also named after places, not only the famous Oxford, but also Oxhey, Oxhill, Oxley, Oxnam, Oxshott and Oxspring… no Oxtoby’s though.

There are, as with most names, variations, such as Oxtaby, Oxtarby, Oxterby, Oxteby, and Oxtiby. I came across the name in Yorkshire, and that is where there are many people called Oxtoby, or where the families of that name originate. Names ending with ‘by’ are associated with areas where Vikings settled, and there were many Vikings who and lived in the ninth and tenth centuries. Maybe there was a place named something like Oxtoby during Viking times which has since disappeared, leaving only the surname behind.

Looking at the censuses, it was interesting to see how the number of people with the name increased, which isn’t always the case with unusual names!

  • 1841 – 185 
  • 1851  – 161 
  • 1861  – 247 
  • 1871  – 315 
  • 1881  – 359 
  • 1891  – 422 
  • 1901 – 546 
  • 1911 – 544 

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