Recorded in many spelling forms including Audrey, Audry, Awdry, Awdrey, and Audrie, this is an English surname. It is believed to originate from a pre 7th century female name "Aelforyd" meaning "noble-strength", which in time developed firstly into Etheldreda and later into Audrey, a sort of fusing as the language changed from Middle to Standard English from about the 14th century. It is said that the popularity of the name commenced with St Etheldreda, the Queen of Northumbria, and founder of the famous convent of Ely. In effect the surname is a metronymic, which is to say one like for instance the popular surname Marriott, which is another derived from the mother not the father. This may have been because the mother was a landowner in her own right, or perhaps the father died before the mother. In this case the surname is first recorded in the year 1279 in the Hundred Rolls, or landowner lists, for the county of Cambridge in the year 1279, when one Robert Audrey is so recorded, and Stephanus Audry appears as a witness at St Andrews, Enfiled, in the county of Middlesex, on August 1st 1563. The name is particularly famous in the 20th century, through the efforts of the Reverend Awdry, the creator of the famous "Thomas, the tank engine" railway books.