This surname is a corruption of the surname Derby, a locational meaning “of Derby”. Derby is city in England. One author claims it comes from the Old English word deer-by or doer-by, meaning a county or town that is abundant with deer. Another author notes it derives from the Old Norse words djur and byr, meaning deer and farm, respectively. Derby is refered to in the Domesday Book of 1086 AD as “Derbei”. Dyrbye is a local and personal name in Denmark.
Early notables include Robert de Derby from county Lancashire in 1332 AD listed in the Lay Subsidy, William de Dereby, located in county Derby during the reign of Henry III and Edward I, Robertus de Derby, Johannes Derby, and Nicholaus de Derby listed in 1379 AD in P.T. Yorks. A one John Darby, beloved servant of the Hovernment of Worcester during the siege of 1646, died in 1667 and was buried in Fladbury Church. Early marriages include Sarah Darby to Thomas Walthall in St. George’s Hanover Square in 1733 and Alice Darbye to Thomas Chandler in Hampshire in 1570 AD.
In his book The Landed Gentry, Bernard Burke mentions two branches of this family: Darby of Leap Castle and Darby of Coalbrookdale. Darby of Leap traces its lineage back to Jonathan Darby of Leap, from King’s County, who was High Sheriff in 1674 and married Deborah (surname not given) and had five children: Jonathan, George, John, William, and Mary. Another notable Darby of this lineage was William Henry Darby (born in 1790) who was a Barrister-at-Law and married Laura Charlotte and had two children: Jonathan and Mary Charlotte, and also later married Elizabeth Drought in 1848 and had six children: Lieutenant William Henry, John Nelson, Elizabeth Henrietta, Wilhelmina Katharine Anne, Laura Susan Ellen, Laura Caroline, Maude Mary, Theodora Lovett, Gertrude Monica, and Anne Vaughan. Darby of Coalbrookdale resides there for many generations. Notables of this lineage include Abraham Darby (born 1711), the song of Abraham Darby, who married Margaret Smith and had one naughted named Hannah. He later married Abiah Sinclair, the youngest child of Samuel Maude of Sunderland, and had four children with her: Francis, Richard, Anne, and Hannah.
Early American settlers bearing this surname include Tho Darby (Viriginia 1635), Ann Darby (Virginia 1650), Captain Darby (Boston 1776), and Hugh Darby (Phildelphia, 1823).
One family motto recorded for Darby is Ut cunque placuerit Deo, which means “Howsoever it shall have pleased God”.