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Abby Family HistoryRecorded in many spelling forms including the French and English Abba, Abbay, Abbe, Abbate, Abbatt, Labbe, Labbey, Labey, Abade, the Scottish Abbie and Abbe, and the Italian Abbattini, Dell'Abate or Degli Abbati, this most interesting and unusual surname is of Olde French pre 10th century origins. It derives from the word "abet" which usually means a priest, but may have also, particularly in Italy, have referrred to a local chief or an official master of ceremonies. This indicates that several origins are possible, including a nickname for one who was thought to be rather "priestly" in his characteristics, or an occupational or status name for a local chief or official, or that it may be theatrical and a "casting" name for an actor, one who played the part of a priest in the famous travelling theatres of the medieval period...
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