Tobin Surname Genealogy

The Tobin surname is Irish, but of Anglo-Norman
origin.  The name here was first Aubyn
from the Aubyn place-name in Normandy and then St. Aubyn.
It was born by a Norman family that had come
to Ireland in the wake of the Strongbow invasion in 1170.
They settled in
Kilkenny and Tipperary

St. Aubyn became Toibin in its Irish
version (which some still use).  Tobin
later resulted

Tobin Resources on

Tobin Ancestry

Ireland.  By the 1440’s there were three major Tobin lines
in SE Tipperary, as well as a senior line existing in Kilkenny:

  • the 14th century Annals of Ireland
    described the Tobins of Kilkenny as “a turbulent
    sept more dreaded by the English than the native Irish.”  
  • the Tobins were also an eminent family in
    county Tipperary, with the head of the family being known as the Baron
    Coursey.  The three main family lines
    there in the 16th century were those of Killaghy, Kilnagranag, and

These families lost their lands in the Cromwellian
settlements and were relocated to Mayo and Ballymoe in Galway around
Tobins had also spread by this time to Waterford and Cork.

Tobin did represent the town of Fethard in Tipperary in the 1689
Parliament.  But he was a follower of
James II.  After James II’s defeat at the
Battle of the Boyne in 1690, he fled the country and became a major in
French Irish Brigade.  His son, Edmund Marques de Tobin, the most celebrated of
this branch,
was killed in 1747 in the War of the Austrian Succession while in the
of Spain.

The Toibin spelling resurrected itself in
Ireland in the 20th century.  The actor
Niall Toibin was born in Cork in 1929, the writer and journalist Colin
in Wexford in 1955.

England.  Two important Tobin
families established
themselves in England by the mid-1700’s.
The first were Bristol merchants who became prominent slave
traders with
plantations in the Caribbean.  The second
were first seen on the Isle of Man.  They
became important merchants in Liverpool, also active in the slave trade. 

forebear of the first family was believed to have been James Tobin, a
sea captain who started off the family’s plantation business on Nevis
in the
Caribbean in the 1740’s.  It was his son James Tobin, profiting from the
profits in the late 1700’s in Caribbean sugar production, who became
one of
the most ardent pro-slavery advocates.
James had three notable sons:

  • James Webbe Tobin, friend to both Wordsworth
    and Coleridge, who campaigned against cruelty to slaves.
  • George Tobin, a Royal
    Naval officer and natural history painter who sketched in 1791 on
    Bligh’s voyage to Tasmania.
  • and John Tobin, an unsuccessful writer for most of
    his life who finally had a hit with his play The Honey Moon
    in 1804.

The second family was first
found at Braddan on the Isle of Man where John Tobin was described as a
maker.  His son Patrick, born around
1735, was a fish curer, principally of salted herring for the export
market.  It was Patrick’s son John Tobin, however, who was to
establish the family fortunes.

“John went to sea out of Liverpool as a boy.
By 1793, when he was thirty, he was master of
the privateer Gypsy.  That
year he captured three French ships – La Hirondelle
with 122 slaves, La Cintrewith with 211 slaves, and La Pourvoyance with slaves and
ivory.  This was to be the making of

Sir John later became a successful Liverpool merchant and served as the
the town in 1819.  He built the family
home Liscard Hall in Wallasey in 1833. 

America.  There
were Tobins recorded in New Jersey in the 18th century.
Isaac Tobin was born in Hunterdon county in
1750.  His father may have been James
Tobin from Kilkenny.  Isaac fought in the
Revolutionary War (after initially deserting) and later moved with his
William to Ohio.

The St. Louis area can boast two famous
Tobins, although there is no evidence that they were at all related.  The first was Tom Tobin, an early mountain
man of the Southwest.  He was born in
1823 to Bartholomew Tobin, an Irish immigrant laborer and his Delaware
wife Sarah.

Tobin was one of only two mountain men to escape alive from the siege
Turley’s Mill during the Taos Revolt in 1847.
In later years he was sent by the Army to track down and kill
notorious Felipe Espinosa and his brother.
Tobin returned to Fort Garland with their heads in a sack.”

The second Tobin was
Margaret Tobin who was born in 1867 in nearby Hannibal, the daughter of
Tobin who had immigrated from Ireland in the 1850’s.
became famous as “the unsinkable Molly Brown.”

Ireland at the time of the potato famine was Thomas Tobin, a potato
farmer in Clonmel.
Tipperary.  He leftwith his family for
Boston in the late 1840’s.  Maurice Tobin
remained in Clogheen, Tipperary at this time.
But his son James departed for Boston in the 1890’s.  James’s son Maurice was mayor of Boston in
the 1930’s and subsequently US Secretary for Labor in President
Cabinet.  Dennis Tobin meanwhile arrived
in Boston from county Clare in 1890.  He
was a long-time leader of the US Teamsters Union.

William Cork and his wife
Bridget came to Mobile, Alabama from Cork at the time of the potato
famine.  He did not last long, apparently
dying during the yellow fever epidemic.
Afterwards Bridget and
their family lived in
a house on the banks of Kisatchie Creek.
She died in 1909, having outlived her husband by forty four

Tobin from Waterford came to San Francisco on the brig Catalina
in 1849 in a lengthy journey that took in the Magellan
Straits and Chile.  He quickly involved
himself with other immigrant arrivals in the city in new business
ventures.  In 1852 he started his own law
firm Tobin & Tobin, still operational today, and he helped start
Hibernia Bank in 1859 (sold in 1992 to Bank of America) and the San Francisco Chronicle in 1865 (sold in
1999 to the Hearst Corp).

Richard and his Chilean wife Mary were among the
first, in 1870, to live in the fashionable Nob
Hill section of San Francisco
.  His
descendants remained an influential San Francisco family over the 20th

Tobins came to Newfoundland
Nova Scotia

Newfoundland.  The
earliest here might have been Michael Tobin and his family from
Waterford who
stayed a short time in the 1770’s before moving onto Nova Scotia.  Patrick Tobin and his family arrived from
Kilkenny in the early 1800’s.  And Tobins
from Wexford had settled in St. Johns by the 1860’s where they were
active in
the fish supply business.  Three
generations of Tobins lived and worked at the Tobin house on Duckworth
Street in
St. Johns built after the Great Fire of 1892.

Nova Scotia.  Michael Tobin, a butcher,
had arrived in Nova
Scotia from Newfoundland in the 1770’s.
His sons James and Michael started a trading business in Halifax
– J
& M Tobin – in the early 1800’s which was to make James, by the
1830’s, one
of the wealthiest men in Nova Scotia.

Richard Tobin was a British soldier from Cork who was granted land in
Dalhousie, Nova Scotia after his unit was disbanded in 1818.  Some of his descendants later settled in

Tobin Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:

Select Tobin Names

William de St. Aubyn was an
early Norman settler in Ireland who was granted lands in Kilkenny in
Sir John Tobin was a
successful Liverpool merchant of the West African trades in the early
Maurice Tobin was mayor of Boston in the 1930’s and US Secretary
for Labor under President Truman after the war
was a distinguished
American economist who was awarded the Nobel economics prize in 1981.
Niall Toibin has been one of
Ireland’s best loved stage actors from the 1960’s onwards.

Select Tobins Today

  • 5,000 in UK (most numerous in Lancashire)
  • 9,000 in America (most numerous in New York)
  • 16,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Ireland)




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