Robbins Surname Genealogy
given name Robin, itself a diminutive of Robert (from the Old German Hrodebert). Robin came to
England originally from France. The name
was made popular by Robin Goodfellow,
another name for Puck whose mischievous tricks were described in
Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream, and by Robin
Hood of Sherwood Forest who stole from the rich to give to the poor. The French surname spelling of Robin is to be
found in the Channel Islands.
Robbins are roughly equal in numbers in England. But
Robbins predominates in America. Robbins could be Jewish name in
Rubin or Rabinowitz or similar names.
Robbins Resources on
- Robins Family of Cornwall
Robins in Cornwall.
- History of the Robin Family in Jersey
Robin in the Channel Islands.
- The Nicholas Robbins Family
Nicholas Robbins of Plymouth colony.
- Robbins/Robins DNA Project
The surname appeared initially in non-patronymic
form as Robyn or Robin or Robyn in the 13th century before the
and Robins emerged. The Robbins spelling
generally came later.
An early Robyns sighting was at Long Buckby in
Northamptonshire where the name appeared as Robinus as early
as 1210. Thomas Robyns, born around 1480,
lived in the
village of Holdenby nearby and from him are said to have come two lines
of descent, each of whom had
descendants who found their way to America.
West Country. The main numbers of
Robins and Robbins,
however, have been in the west country.
Both names were found in Gloucestershire. If
anything, Robins extended southwest into
Devon and Cornwall; Robbins into the West Midlands.
One line of Robins in
Cornwall was to be found in the fishing village of Megavissey,
Thomas Robins in the mid-16th century.
They tended to be seamen or rope makers.
The earliest well-documented ancestor was
William Robins who died in 1844 and whose headstone still stands in the
graveyard of St. Peter’s parish church. Charles Robins of this
family departed for Ireland.
meanwhile had sailed with his family for Canada on the Voluna
in 1846, keeping a diary of his journey. He
was a pioneer of the Bible Christian
movement in North America.
Robins held the manor of Matson
near Gloucester in the 15th century and possibly earlier. In 1590 the heiress
Margaret Robins married Jasper Selwyn who then came into possession of
estate. But the family
did produce an early American emigrant; and Thomas Robins, a
Gloucestershire artist of the mid-18th century, was thought to have
descendant. This history was recorded with other Robins history
in the Rev.
Mills Robbins’ 1908 book Gleanings of the
Robins or Robbins Family of England.
spelling in Warwickshire tended to be Robbins.
A Robyns family in Worcestershire had migrated to Stoulton in
Warwickshire by 1500 and became Robbins there.
A branch of this family moved to Leicestershire and Richard and
Robbins emigrated to New England.
Francis Robbins meanwhile was a yeoman farmer in Lillington in
1600’s; and a family line has been traced from Thomas Robbins and Mary
who married in Fenny Compton in 1791.
Channel Islands. The Robin
name, originating from France, has applied in the Channel Islands. Raulin Robin was recorded as a landowner in
St. Brelade in Jersey as early as 1331. A
much later Raulin Robin was elected Jersey Jurat in 1700.
One of his sons, Charles Robin, saw the
potential in Canada’s fishing grounds and formed a company in the
exploit these opportunities.
had great success in Canada and in 1802 returned to Jersey and expanded
home there. He never married and died in
1824 leaving £480 to the poor of the parish.”
Robin line did continue in Jersey, but has recently died out.
unrelated Robin families on Guernsey dating from the late 1600’s. They were covered in Mendham and Foster’s
1990 book The Robin Families of Guernsey.
Nicholas Robin was a prominent Methodist on
the island in the early 19th century.
Three of his sons – James, Alexis, and Francis – emigrated to
Australia in the 1850’s and prospered there.
Scotland. There were early
Robbins in Scotland, recorded at Stobo in Peeblesshire on the Scottish
in the 15th and 16th centuries. However,
the name has disappeared there.
in Ireland was probably an English implant.
They were recorded in Tipperary from about 1700 onwards. Hymenstown was their home in the 18th and 19th centuries.
was a farmer at Clara in county Offaly at the time of the Great
product of his farms was not enough to provide for his large family. In 1849 he therefore emigrated to South
America with his wife and eleven children. After a rocky start in
Robbins worked as shepherd in Cañuelas. He died in 1866.
Early Robbins were to be found in
Massachusetts, New Jersey, Virginia and North Carolina.
Massachusetts. Robbins lines here were:
- Nicholas Robbins, a
shoemaker possibly from Kent who came to Cambridge, Massachusetts in
settled in Duxbury three years later. His
line was covered in Larry Robbins’ 2008 book The
Nicholas Robbins Family.
- Richard Robbins from Stoulton in
Warwickshire who was in Charlestown, Massachusetts by 1640. One line led to the Robbins Cape Cod
families. Another line led to Edward
Robbins, Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts from 1802 to 1806.
- George Robbins, a farmer and mill owner
possibly from Oxford who lived in Chelmsford, Massachusetts from 1667
onwards. He was married three times and
was the father of eleven known children. The
lineage here can be found in Omer and Elsie Robbins’
1992 book A Robbins Family History.
- Robert Robbins who was resident with his wife
Mary in Concord, Massachusetts in 1671 and subsequently moved to Groton. His line has sometimes got tangled up with
that of George Robbins.
- while William
Robbins was a soldier in King Phillips’ War who stayed on and lived in
Massachusetts until 1691. He later was
one of the first settlers of Walpole. Dana
Robbins’ 1949 book History of
the Robbins Family of Walpole has been the reference point here.
Robins was originally Daniel Robinson and had come
from Scotland. He had been taken
prisoner at the Battle of Worcester in 1651 and transported to
an indentured servant.
Freed from this
bondage, Daniel married in 1663 and he and his wife Hope migrated to
New Jersey. His descendants there
generally adopted the
Robbins spelling and many of them became Quakers. One
Quaker branch owned the Seven Stars
Tavern in Woodstown, New Jersey from 1807 to 1927.
Virginia. Colonel Obedience Robins
Northamptonshire was one of the most influential early Virginia
colonists. He owned 2,000 acres on
Cheriton Creek, his
Cherrystone plantation, and represented Accomack county in the Assembly
1629 and 1642. In 1642 he was
instrumental in having the name of Accomack county changed to
say, in order to honor his homeland.
Another Northamptonshire line
may have extended to Thomas Robins, first found in Westmoreland county
the year 1695. Others have connected him
to the New England immigrant Nicholas Robbins of Duxbury.
Thomas’s son, also named Thomas, settled in
North Carolina. Later Robbins moved
south and west. Gladys Wrenn’s 1995 book
The Robbins Family – from Virginia to
Texas covered the descendant line.
North Carolina. There
Robbins appearing in Rowan county in the 1750’s and later in Randolph
county. Some have them coming from a
dissenting Baptist family in England.
The first Robbins in Randolph county was probably William
blacksmith, whose will was recorded in 1786.
Ahi Robbins, born there in 1799, helped found a local school known as
the Union Institute. This later became
Trinity College and then Duke University.
Three of his sons were killed during the Civil War.
Franklin survived and became a prominent
North Carolina lawyer.
Robbins has also been an adopted Jewish name in America. Examples are: Harold Robbins, the
best-selling writer; Irv Robbins of Baskin
& Robbins ice-cream fame; Jerome Robbins, the Broadway producer
behind West Side Story and Fiddler on the
Roof; and Leo Robbins, the author and playwright who
was killed in a plane crash off New York in 1957.
Canada. There were Robins and
Robbins who left
America for the Canadian maritime provinces after the Revolutionary War
over. John Robins from New Jersey came
to Charlottetown in 1782 and later settled in Bedeque, PEI. Joseph
Robbins from Massachusetts departed for Yarmouth, Nova Scotia
in 1790. His son Abel became a prominent
shipowner, and entrepreneur in the town.
Abijah and Amariah Robbins were Loyalist
brothers from Herkimer, New York who came to Ontario as young boys in
1800’s. Both fought in the War of
1812. Abijah made his home in Mono
township, Simcoe county; Amariah in Moore township, Lambton county. Anna Mason’s 1985 book The
Robbins Family History covered the family lineage from the
perspective of Amariah’s son John who married Mary Ann Gray.
Elijah Robbins was a Christian missionary from
Massachusetts who came to South Africa in 1859 to spread the Gospel
Zulus at the Adams mission station. His
son Whitman was a dentist in Durban.
Herbert Robinski escaped Nazi Germany for
South Africa in 1936, building a new life for himself and his family in
Elizabeth under the anglicized name of Robins.
His son Steven Robins wrote about the tragedy of the family left
Nazi concentration camps in his 2016 book Letters
Australia. Three Robbins had brief lives down
John Robins from Plymouth in
Devon was a First Fleet convict on the Charlotte
in 1788. He survived the voyage but died
on Norfolk Island three years later.
While fishing, Robins “endeavored to get from one rock to
into the sea, and went down like a stone.”
Charles Robbins, a seaman
from Barnstaple in Devon, came out to Australia in 1802.
He made a name for himself through his
exploration of the coastal regions of New South Wales and Tasmania. Robbins Island and Robbins Passage off the
northwest coast of Tasmania were named after him. However,
he then went missing and presumably
died in 1805.
James Robbins from Monmouthshire on the Welsh borders came
to Australia with his wife Tamar in 1855 in search of gold. Finding none, he enlisted with the British
army to fight in the Maori Wars in New Zealand.
He was badly wounded there in 1864 and died soon afterwards.
If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:
Select Robbins Names
Benjamin Robins from Gloucestershire was a pioneering English scientist, mathematician,and military engineer of the early 18th century.
Charles Robin was an 18th century entrepreneur from the Channel Island of Jersey who traded between Britain and the maritime
region of Canada.
Harold Robbins, born Harold Rubin, was an American author of popular novels, one of the best-selling writers of all time.
Jerome Robbins, born Jerome Rabinowitz, was a Jewish-American
choreographer, director, and theater producer probably best known for his work on West Side Story.
Select Robbins Today
- 25,000 in the UK (most numerous
- 37,000 in America (most numerous in Florida)
- 10,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)
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