Probyn Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Select Probyn Meaning
The name Probyn is of Welsh origin. It comes
from the Welsh “ap Robin,” meaning son of Robin. Many
“P” origin surnames come from the same
The transition to English-type
surnames happened much later in Wales than it did in England. The complex nomenclature of “son of/son of”
etc in the Welsh form continued until well into the late 16th
century. Thus we have, in a deed
transaction recorded in 1575 in Llanrwst, the purchaser being Robert ap
ap Howell ap Robyn, an interesting mix of English and Welsh names in a
Welsh style.
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Probyn Ancestry

Wales. Under
the English influence, ap Robyn began to translate into Probyn, Probin,
and other variants, first in the border counties and later in the Welsh
heartlands. There was a Probyn family of
some repute that held lands and estates in north Wales, as well as
across the
border at Oldcastle near Malpas in Cheshire. The
spelling has persisted
in north Wales, in Cheshire and elsewhere. But
generally Probyn has become the standard form.

England. In
England, the largest concentration of Probyns has been in
Gloucestershire. Probyns can be traced
to Newland near
the Forest of Dean from 1570.
A Probyn family were tanners there over six generations. Additional Probyn bases were established in
Gloucestershire when Sir Edmund Probyn in 1740 acquired the Longhope
manor on the
road to Ross-on-Wye and the Huntley manor a little to the north in
Newent. There were Probyns also across the
border in
present-day Gwent.

Some Probyns
migrated to London. Sir Edmund Probyn made his
name there in law, Sir Dighton Probyn in the army,
and Sir Leslie
in the diplomatic service.


Select Probyn Miscellany

A Probyn Lease in Ruthin (Clywd).  A lease agreement in 1516 between:

David Milton of Chester, gentleman
Richard ap John ap Robyn of Ruthyn, gentleman and Johanna verch. John
ap Gruffith, his wife
a demise in fee farm of burgage and garden in Castle
Street in Ruthyn between the tenement of Henry Grey, Esq. on the north
side and the tenement of John Longeford on the south side and in length
from the King’s garden to the street. Rent: four shillings per annum.

Newland House and the Probyns.  Newland House, a substantial house at the south-west
corner of the churchyard, was the home of the Probyns, who were the
gentry family at Newland in the 18th century and evidently did much to
establish it as a popular residential village.

The house in the main street east of the
churchyard was rebuilt in 1694 by William Probyn, whose family held it
on long
leases from Bell’s charity.  Before 1816
it became the Ostrich inn, the sign derived from the Probyn crest.

The Dower House (formerly Dark House), in the
same group of buildings, was apparently the house that Sir Edmund
Probyn left
to his sister Frances in 1742, with reversion to his nephew William
Hopkins.  Later it belonged to Edmund
Probyn who left it to two daughters while they remained unmarried.  The main part of the house is of the early
18th century and of five bays with a hipped roof. About 1820 a room
with a
canted bay was added at the southwest and later in the 19th century two
were added at the rear. Parts of an early 18th century
survive, but the interior of the original house has been largely

In one of the former open fields at Newland,
there was a line of merestones bearing the initials of John Probyn and
Countess of Newburgh.  The stones were
still standing in 1969.

An Eyewitness Account in 1745.  “I remember my great grandmother who told me some
particulars she remembered of the army of the Pretender coming to Ross,
to which place she was riding on a pillion behind her father when she
saw the red coats of the rebels, and her father turned around and
galloped back to Monmouth where he lived, calling out:  “The
rebels are at Ross!”  The church bells rang to call everyone, the
yeomanry were called out, and a man and a horse were depatched to
summon troops from Bristol.  So the rebels were turned back.
This was in 1745.

This great grandmother also told me that she remembered
her great grandfather telling her that she remembered her great
grandfather telling her that he had been present as a child at the
beheading of Charles I.  So that takes you back 242 years through
three narrators.”

The great grandmother is understood to be
Frances, the wife of Thomas Probyn, and the extract above is a part of
a letter written by her great great grandaughter,, Caroline Skinner, in
1891 to her grandson.

The Burns’ Gun Made by John Probin.  The Burns’ gun was a four-bore flintlock carbine and would fire a lead ball
weighing a quarter of a pound or 113 grams. It was made in 1790 by John
of London and Birmingham, gunmaker to the Prince of Wales, later George

Burns would have carried this gun in the
course of his duties as an Excise Officer.
He would also have taken his measuring or gauging rod.  This is a stick marked with various scales
for measuring the quantity of beer and wine in barrels.

Portraits of Dighton Probyn.  Louis Desanges
painted Probyn’s portrait about 1860 for the Victoria Cross Gallery in
National Army Museum.  There is also a
sketch of him leading a charge at the Battle of Chang-Tsia-Wan on 18
1860 by Henry Hope Crealock.

On 26 June
1867, whilst on furlough in London, Probyn also sat to the fashionable
portrait painter James Rannie Swinton. The resultant portrait, also in
National Army Museum, is the most stunning and also the most accurate
representation of Probyn.  Indeed, he was
described by his contemporaries as ‘one of the handsomest men in
London’ and
‘the most dashing cavalry officer in the army.’

Sir Leslie Probyn and the Bo School.  The Bo School was the brainchild of the Governor of Sierra Leone, Sir Leslie
Probyn, with the encouragement of the Secretary of State for the
colonies.  The school was inaugurated on
the pattern of
an English public school and was established in Bo in the southeastern
of Sierra Leone.

At the opening
ceremony, in March 1906, there were many prominent people, including
Chief Madam Yoko of Moyamba, Baimba Hotagua of Bo, Sandy of Tikonko
representing the Menda land and Ibrahim Sanda representing Temne land.  On the opening day, thirty-two pupils had
already enrolled.

An Old Bo Boys
Association (OBBA) was formed in 1929 and has branches around the world.

Dave Probyn and the Newbridge Brass Band (in 1995).  The Celynen Collieries band was reformed in 1952 under the musical
directorship of
Rhys Tilley.  A learner’s class was also
formed under the control of Ernie Hayward to produce players to fill
any gaps.  Cyril Shipp was appointed the
band sergeant.

The band then embarked on a nomadic
existence.  They started at the central
hall in Abercarn, followed by the Community Hall Chapel of Ease, the
Red Lion
in Newbridge, the Pentwynmawr Club, the Newbridge Con Club, and finally
to its
current base at the Institute in Newbridge.

During the years the band has won
countless awards in many competitions.
One of the most noteworthy was third in the London National
Finals in
1964.  After a few successful years with
the band, Rhys Tilley left the band to form the TA Band based in

We were fortunate to have in the band at this
time Mr. Dave Probyn, a well-experienced bandsman.
He welcomed the opportunity of taking on the
conductorship of the band, the position he has now held for many years.



Select Probyn Names

  • Sir Edmund Probyn was a whig lawyer, a Judge of the King’s Bench, and Chief Baron of the Exchequer in
    the 1720’s and 1730’s.   
  • John Probin of London and Birmingham was gunmaker to the Prince of Wales, later George IV.   
  • Sir Dighton Probyn was the dashing captain in the English army when the Indian mutiny erupted in 1857. His gallantry in the fighting won him a VC. He advanced to the rank of general and subsequently became a court figure (handling the delicate affairs of the Prince of Wales).   
  • Sir Leslie Probyn was British Governor
    of Sierra Leone in West Africa in the early 1900’s.
    A guardsman at his official
    residence named his son, who later became President of the country, Siaka Probyn Stevens. 
  • Jeff Probyn was a tight end prop in the English rugby
    team in the 1980’s and 1990’s.

Select Probyn Numbers Today

  • 500 in the UK (most numerous in




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