What’s in a Name

Many villages in the country have very ancient names, Wilby is no exception to this its first recorded use being in the Doomsday book as Wilebi.  Although we can never know for sure how the name originated, it is possible to hazard a guess by a short look at history

Following the retreat of the Romans from Britain in the 4th Century, the country was first raided and then settled by the Danes.  We have all heard I’m sure about the pillaging of the coastline by the Vikings and Danes, but little is known about the peaceful settlement of the country and that the Danes occupied uninhabited land between existing Saxon settlements.  By the 8th and 9th century they ruled virtually the entire eastern half of the country an area which was known as the Danelaw.

Wilby is within this area and can be identified as a Danish settlement by its irregular triangular shape and the fact that it is smaller in acreage than a typical Saxon parish.  1100 acres as apposed to 2000 acres or more.  It is also probable that the area had no owner and had been deserted possibly since the last Romano/British occupation several hundred years before

The name Wilby has its origins in this period.  Many Scandinavian settlements had the suffix ‘by’ which means homestead or farm, the remaining part of the name is probably a corruption of the old Scandinavian personal name Vili.  In total therefore, all it probably means is Vili’s farm.  Not glamorous maybe, but over 1000 years old and virtually unchanged, it’s a small link with history.

Mears Ashby Road 2 resized