The first known one (Arthur Ownbey) came to VA in the very late 1690's or most likely early 1700's. Sometimes his name shows up as Onebee. Another Owenby / Ownbey was in VA in the 1600's before him. I forget the spelling, but the Owenby form was not the original way it was spelled.
This was Arthur Ownbey, born 1670 in Lincolnshire, England, and came to Essex Co., VA, where he bought land in 1714 and died in 1737.
He is the progenitor of most if not all of the Ownbey, Owenby, etc., families of NC which spread across SC, GA, T, and migrated many places elsewhere.
Below are all my notes on him, followed by a link to my webpage on him and his descendants, as well as an index to the index of all my Ownbey / Owenby, etc., names:
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Arthur was the first Ownbey ancestor of the northeastern Georgia and southwestern North Carolina Ownbeys, to immigrate to America. There was an earlier Ownbey family in Virginia, however, (who were undoubtedly related.)
A note about the surname, Ownbey:The name is often seen spelled as Owenby, and sometimes Owenbey, Owensby, or Ownby.Owenby, now considered by some to be the most proper spelling, was nevertheless not the original English form, and actually variates from the truest known original spelling.
The American form is identified with the descendants of Arthur, the first of his line in America, who spelled it Ownby and Ownbey from their very earliest records. In England, it was generally spelled Onebee or Onby. Anciently, it was Aunby. No significant variation was seen in the spelling of the name in GA or NC, until the late 19th century, and then only occasionally. Therefore with few exceptions,the family in the Union Co., GA and Clay Co., NC areas, for example, have generally always spelled it Ownbey. Occasionally the spelling of an individual's surname will vary from one Census to another (Ownbey on one Census, Owenby on the next), depending on the tendency of some early Census takers to spell names more or less phonetically, as they heard them. Moreover, as with most surname histories, individuals have changed or reinterpreted the spelling over the years.
All Ownbey variations derive from one source in central England. From about 750 AD to 1050 AD, Norse Vikings were raiding England. One viking named Aun settled in what is now known as Licolnshire, England. Norse place-name endings were determined by their farms or homesteads. So, when we trace the name it comes from Aun's By or Aunby, meaning Aun's farm.
1670: Arthur Onebee is born in Licolnshire, England.Marriage: Unknown.
1714: Arthur Onebee purchased 30 acres of land in Virginia.
1715: Arthur Onebee signed an estate inventory in Virginia.
1726: Arthur Onby signed a security bond in Virginia.
1737: Arthur Onby deceased in Essex Co., Virginia;inventory of estate.
The inventory lists 3 surviving children: John Ownbey , Mary (who married James Williamson), and Elizabeth (who married Carter Wells).
The inventory also lists his grandson Thomas, "the only son of Thomas Ownby and Mary Brooks Stamper." [However, by 1740 they also had another son, Powell Stamper Ownbey. ]
A NOTE ABOUT THE SPELLING OF THE SURNAME:
Nowadays the surname Ownbey is often spelled Owenby, and sometimes Owenbey, Owensby, or Ownby.Owenby, now considered by many to be the most proper spelling, was nevertheless not the original English form,Aunby. Thus Ownby is the closest to the true spelling. Since that form is nigh obsolete, and whereas Ownbey next took root and became the norm before other variations appeared, I spell all related American forms in my database "Ownbey." I do this solely to make references more convenient, since there are so many related persons with this surname who have spelled it differently for nearly a century. In looking them up, one must remember to try all possible spellings, even within the same family.
LINK TO ARTHUR OWNBEY:
LINK TO INDEX OF ALL MY OWNBEY / OWENBY , ETC., NAMES: