excerpts from "Albee Family Records"
by Robert Sumner Albee

The anonymous author of THE NORMAN PEOPLE, published in London 1874, gives a list of Norman names, taken from the official lists of Somerset House, and writes that ALBY and ALBEE are identical, both being derived from Auby, a town near Douay in Normandy.  He finds the first mention of the name in England in the 12th century, when Everard d'Albe witnessed a charter of Studley, Oxford.  He adds, "This is a different family from that of Dalby, as appears by the arms," and says, "Robert de Albi was of Normandy 1180," quoting Magn. Rotul.  Scaccarii Normanniae in the Memoires de la Societe des Antiquiaires de la Normandie t. 15-17.

The family is therefore of Norman or French origin, and some of its members were in England within one or two centuries after the Norman Conquest in 1066.

Robertus Albus is recorded as possessor of three hides of land in Northamptonshire in the Domesday Book, 1080.  The name Albus appears on the records of 1261.  In 1275 the heirs to the estate of Jacobus Albus de Karliolo, Cumberland were his granddaughters Elizabeth, of age, and Johanna, aged eleven.  It is not certain that there is any connection between the names Alby and Albus, however.

The Calendar of the Patent Rolls notes that,

"April 7 1283, --Conway--, Commissioner over and terminer to Thomas [de Wayland] and Thomas de Sanoto Vigore, touching an appeal which Geoffrey Gilberd of Notingham brings in the county of Somerset against ....Walph Albe," and others. 

"February 21 1334, --York--, Matilda, late the wife of Robert Banyard, going on pilgrimage to Santiago, has his letters nominating Roger de Norton and William de Alby her attorneys in England until Michaelmas." 

"November 5 1380, --Northampton--, Pardon of outlawry to John Staunford of Tamworth, Co. Warwick, for not appearing to answer Thomas Alby, citizen and merchant of London, and Edmund Alderford, mercer of London, touching debts of 8 pounds, 6 shillings, 8 pence and 15 pounds respectively.  London."

May 22 1477, --Westminster--, Grant to the King's servitor, Thomas Howard, one of the esquires of the body, of the office of steward of the manor of Alby, Co. Norfolk."

Other references to the manor of Alby in Norfolk are found as far back as the reign of Edward I - 1272-1307.  It is today a parish in Norfolk.

From the Calendar of Close Rolls:

"March 12 1339, --Winchester--, To William Tressell, escheator this side Trent.  Order to deliver the following advowsons to Edward de Mente Acuto and Alice his wife, daughter and heir of Thomas Earl of Norfolk, which the King has assigned to them, to wit: ....that of Weybrigge priory, Co. Norfolk, extended to 40 s. yearly; ....that of Alby church, in the same county, extended to 10 marks yearly."

The name Roger de Alby [no trade given] appears in the "Calendar of the Freemen of Norwich from 1317 to 1603" about 1353.

From the Calendar of Papal Registers:

"Papal Letters III., 2Id. February 1350.  Clement de Alby, priest, of the diocese of Norwich." given an indulgence to choose a confessor, to give him, "being penitent, plenary remission at the hour of death, with the usual safeguards."

The will of John Lunte, county Suffolk, dated January 20, 1469/1470, appoints William Alby an executor.  The records of Holbrook, the parish where John Lunte died, extend back only to 1560.


"The troubles now [1637] increasing in the church, by means of many schismatical and factious persons that were for innovations both in church and State, many of them could not push on their designs to a crisis so early as they wished, as Mr. Peck, Mr. Albee. Mr. Ward, Mr. Bridges, etc., being opposed in their proceedings by Bishop Wren, went voluntarily beyond the sea, some to Holland, some to New England, and others to divers places."

Henry Alby of George Ally was buried September 11, 1723 in ground given in the Parish of St. James, Clerkenwell.

Benjamin Albee exchanged land in Boston for "three lots on the mount" in 1640.  He is probably the same Benjamin Albee who was present at a town meeting in Braintree, Massachusetts February 25, 1641, was made a freeman of Braintree October 30, 1643, who witnessed a will of Henry Adams of Braintree June 8, 1647, who inventoried the estate of John Sheppard of Braintree September 22, 1650, and who sold to John Hull 280 acres of land in Braintree November 25, 1657, he and his wife signing the deed "Benjamin Alby" and " Hannah Alby".

John Albee of Braintree, lost a servant, Francis Brown, by death in 1640, was present at a town meeting in Braintree December 19, 1640 and at another December 19, 1641, and was made a freeman of Braintree May 10, 1642 or May 10, 1643.  The John Albee who witnessed a conveyance of land in Charlestown, Massachusetts in 1654 may be the same man.

All Albees in America whose ancestry can be traced back to 1700 are descendants of Benjamin Albee of Braintree and of his son James.  Either he or John Albee of Braintree was probably the "Mr. Albee" referred to above who left Norfolk county in England in 1637.

There is a tradition among his descendants that Eleazer Albee, a soldier in the Revolution born about 1758 who died in Dorset, Vermont March 3, 1831 was the son of an immigrant from France to Rhode Island.

Otis J. Albee of Lawrence, California wrote in 1895 that he came from England, and was adopted at Wolverhampton by a family named Albee.  He left them when he was eight years old, so could tell nothing of that family, and in 1897 there was no family by the name of Albee living in Wolverhampton.

Alexander Albee, who was living in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1899 was born in Marseilles, France in 1851 and came to America in 1869.

THE NORMAN PEOPLE, above referred to, says that the name was originally spelled d'Alby, later Alby and Albee.  Benjamin Albee of Braintree signed his name Alby in at least one instance.  Contemporary records spell his name Alby, Albye, Albee and Allbe.  His descendants spelled the name Albee late in the eighteenth century.  In 1771 Ebenezer Albee of Townsend, Massachusetts, signed his name Allbe to a deed of land, and most of his descendants spelled his name Allbee; but the records of Townsend and the Census of 1790  spell his name Albee.  About the same time, an Albee family in Maine began spelling the name Allbee.  Ellery Allbe who was born in 1787 and died in 1852 changed the spelling of his name of Albee to Allbe, and several of his relatives followed his example.  Francis Taft Albee, who was born in 1812 and died in 1896 changed the spelling of his name from Albee to Alba, and Aaron Albee who was born in 1792 and died in 1847 also changed his name from Albee to Alba.  A few have changed the spelling to Alby and Albe in recent years.

 The name Albee is pronounced with the first syllable like that of Albany except by a few families who have recently begun pronouncing it like the first syllable of Albert.

Early Rhode Island records mention persons named Allebee and Albey, who may or may not be related to Benjamin Albee of Braintree.  An Albey family numerous in New Jersey is descended from a German named Michell Albey, whose name is supposed to have been Abbe originally.  Another German family in southern Wisconsin spell the name Alby, and another German family with representatives in Valparaiso, Indiana and in Chicago spell the name Albe.

Albee in Saginaw Co., Michigan was named after William Clinton Albee, who was born in 1833 and died in 1878; and Albee, South Dakota was named after William Cram Albee, who was born in 1855.  Probably Albee, Oregon was also named after him.



CopyrightŪ 2002, Keith E. Albee
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