Surname History: -

The Ancient History of the Distinguished Surname Roebuck

The Saxon Chronicle is a manuscript which was painstakingly researched by monks of the 10th Century and now dwells in the British Museum. Emerging through the Chronicles of history is one of the oldest family names, ROEBUCK, and the distinguished history of this surname is interwoven into the tapestry of the history of England.

Historical analysts have used many sources in the preparation of the ROEBUCK history such as the Domesday Book, the Ragman Rolls (1291 - 1296), the Curia Regis Rolls, The Pipe Rolls, the Hearth Rolls, parish registers, baptismals, tax records and other ancient documents and found the first record of the name ROEBUCK, in Kent where they were seated from early times and their first records appeared on the early census rolls taken by the early Kings of Britain to determine the rate of taxation of their subjects.

The Surname ROEBUCK, was found in the archives, the name was sometimes revealed as ROEBUCK, ROBUCK, and these changes in spelling occurred even between father and son. It was not uncommon, for example, for a person to be born with one spelling variation, married with another, and for yet another to appear on his gravestone. Scribes spelt the name the way it sounded as it was told to them. From century to century spellings changed.

The family name ROEBUCK was found to be descended from the Saxon race. The Saxons were a fair skinned people led by the brothers General/Commanders Hengist and Horsa, who settled in England from about the year 400 A.D. They settled firstly on the south east coast, coming from the Rhine Valley. They spread north and westward from Kent and during the next four hundred years forced the Ancient Britons back into Wales and Cornwall to the west, Cumbria and Scotland to the north. The Angles held the eastern coastline, the south folk in Suffolk, the north folk in Norfolk. Under Anglo/Saxon five century rule the nation divided into five separate kingdoms, a high king being elected as supreme ruler. Alfred the Great emerged in the 9th century as the Saxon leader to dispel the Danish invasion.

England by 1066, was ably led by Harold, King of the Saxons and was enjoying reasonable peace and prosperity. The Norman invasion from France under Duke William of Normandy, and their victory of the Battle of Hastings, found Saxon land owners to be forfeited their land. William, with an army of 40,000 drove north, wasting the northern counties. Both rebellious Norman nobles and Saxons fled over the border into Scotland. Those Saxons who remained were restive under Norman rule, and many moved northward to the midlands, Lancashire and Yorkshire where Norman influence prevailed less.

The family name ROEBUCK emerged as a notable English family name in the county of Kent where they were recorded as a family of great antiquity seated as Lords of the manor of Ingress and estates in that shire. By the 13th century they had branched to Somerset. Perhaps one of the most impressive branches of the family was of Heath in Yorkshire who intermarried with many distinguished Yorkshire families, including the Disneys and the Maudes. Notable amongst the family at this time was ROEBUCK of Kent.

The next two or three centuries found the Surname ROEBUCK flourishing and contributing greatly to the culture of the nation. During the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries England was ravaged by religious conflict. Protestantism, the newly found political fervour of Cromwellianism, and the remnants of the Roman Church rejected all but the most ardent followers. As each group gained power during these turbulent times many were burnt at the stake but many more were banished from the land, losing their titles, estates and status. Many families were freely "encouraged" to migrate to Ireland, or to the "colonies". Some were rewarded with grants of lands, others were indentured as servants for as long as ten years.

In Ireland they became known as the "Adventurers for land in Ireland". They were government sponsored Protestant settlers who "undertook" to keep their faith, being granted lands previously owned by the Catholic Irish for only nominal payment. They were also known as the "Undertakers". There is no evidence that the family name migrated to Ireland, but this does not preclude the possibility of their scattered migration to that country.

These unsettling times were disturbing and the New World beckoned the adventurous. They migrated, some voluntarily from Ireland, some by Army service, but mostly directly from England, their home territories. Some also moved to the European continent. Members of the family name ROEBUCK sailed aboard the armada of small sailing ships known as the "White Sails" which plied the stormy Atlantic. These overcrowded ships were pestilence ridden, sometimes 30% to 40% of the passenger list never reaching their destination, their numbers decimated by sickness and the elements. Many were buried at sea.

Included amongst the first migrants who settled in North America which could be considered a kinsman of the surname ROEBUCK or a variable spelling of that family name was ROBERT ROBUCK/ROEBUCK, the emigrant, who came from the area of Yorkshire, England, West Riding of Yorkshire, to Maryland in 1674. He, along with five others, was brought to Maryland by Mathias DiCosta(?)of St. Mary's, Maryland.(See Passenger and Immigration Record). Lord Calvert was giving property to anyone who brought settlers to the New World.

ROBERT ROBUCK/ROEBUCK, the emigrant, is the first documented ROBUCK/ROEBUCK in the New World. How long he stayed in Maryland is unknown as he eventually settled in Northumberland County, Virginia, dying there in 1709. ROBERT ROBUCK/ROEBUCK is first mentioned in Northumberland County records in 1699, for on June 23rd of that year he brought a suit against William Jones, Executor of Samuel Jones Estate.(Ref.1). This action could refer to either the Robert Roebuck under consideration, or to a younger Robert Roebuck, his assumed son. In the court records his name is usually spelled "ROEBUCK", but not always. By the third generation, the name is often spelled "ROBUCK". Distinct differences in orthography occurred within the family. Descendants of Benjamin, progenitor of the Kentucky and Adams County, Ohio, line almost always use "ROBUCK". Descendants of James, who with his six sons migrated to Ohio, consistantly spell the name "ROEBUCK". Descendants of Robert and George use both spellings.

Included amongst other migrants who settld in North America which could be considered a kinsman of the Surname ROEBUCK, or a variable spelling of that family name was Benjamin Disney ROEBUCK who arrived in Philadelphia in 1808; John, John Wood, Nathan, William, William ROEBUCK all arrived in Philadelphia between 1805 and 1876.

The east coast ports were crowded. From the port of entry many settlers trekked their way west, joining the wagon trains to the prairies or to the West Coast. During the American War of Independence, many loyalists made their way north to Canada about 1790, and became known as the United Empire Loyalists. They were granted equivalent lands along the banks of the St. Lawrence River and in the Niagara Peninsula. Contemporary notables of the Surname ROEBUCK, include many distinguished contributors: ROEBUCK of Sears-Roebuck; Tommy Roebuck, Dentist.

My purpose in this research is not to trace the ROBERT ROBUCK/ROEBUCK, the emigrant, family descendants in the United States but to trace his ancestors in England.

Several books have been written on the descendants of ROBERT ROBUCK/ROEBUCK, the emigrant, and anyone wishing to trace their ROBUCK/ROEBUCK line in the States should consult these books which can be located at Family History Libraries.


See also the Roebuck Surname by Dr. George Redmonds, "Origin of Surnames".

Also included is a page giving an account of The Origin of the Roebuck Surname from the results of the current ongoing research in England, with credible links to the Roman occupation of 100AD.

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