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Robb is a surname of Scottish origin, formed from a diminution (reduction) of the name Robert. Robert was a popular name, especially after its use by three Scots Kings in the fourteenth century. Rob is first recorded as a surname in the decades before 1500 with early groupings in Aberdeenshire, Lanarkshire and Perthshire/Stirlingshire. It is likely that the name originated with the offspring of a Robert or Rob, when surnames began to flourish, but unlike some surnames there is no one source for the name.
The surname was originally spelled Rob, sometimes Robe, but by 1800 the vast majority of families had added an extra 'b', an exception being a wealthy farming family of Perthshire origin that settled in Thirsk, Yorkshire.
Although the surname originates in Scotland, Protestant branches of the family settled in Ireland during the sixteenth century Plantations, with the earliest record of the name appearing in the 1630s. The Robb of Timpany family originated with one James Robb who in the late seventeenth century was said to have been a chief mason of the King's Works in Ireland and an assistant of Inigo Jones. A descendant Captain James Robb built Timpany House in 1780. Another armorial Robb family used the surname Robe, descending from Reverend James Robe of Kilsyth (1688–1753), son of Reverend Michael Rob of Cumbernauld (1645–1721), although their coat of arms recorded with the Lord Lyon descends from the Hamilton family through marriage. The Robb crest shows a bare arm holding a chapeau surrounded with a laurel wreath.
It appears that many Robbs emigrated to the New World from Ireland, rather than Scotland. the surname sometimes became Raab, presumably through the pronunciation, although many Robbs in the New World are originally Raubs of German origin. Amongst many settlers three Jacobite soldiers were transported to America following the Jacobite rising of 1715, and the first Free Kirk Minister to settle in Canada was the Rev. Ralph Robb (1800–50) a native of Logie parish near Stirling.
The name is often recorded as a sept of the Clan MacFarlane who were based historically on the eastern side of Loch Lomond, but this only stems from an early inclusion of the surname MacRobb, (which is a Highland surname), as a MacFarlane sept. It is unlikely there was ever a link between the, largely, lowland surname and the highland clan.
It is the 192nd (equal) most popular surname in Scotland, judging by births, marriages and deaths in 2018.
People with the surname Robb
- Alfred Robb (1873–1935), English physicist
- Andrew Robb (born 1951), Australian politician
- AnnaSophia Robb (born 1993), American actress
- Bruce Robb (born 1954), American record producer
- Candace Robb (born 1959), British author
- Chuck Robb (born 1939), American politician
- Curtis Robb (born 1972), British middle distance athlete
- David Robb (born 1947), British actor
- Douglas Robb (schoolmaster) (born 1970), British rugby player and headmaster
- Ed Robb (born 1942), American politician
- George Douglas Robb (1899–1974), New Zealand surgeon
- Graham Robb (born 1958), British author
- Ian Robb, English folk singer
- Isabel Hampton Robb (1860–1910), American nursing theorist
- J. Hampden Robb (1846–1911), New York politician
- James Robb (disambiguation), several people
- John Robb (disambiguation), several people
- Lynda Bird Johnson Robb (born 1944), elder daughter of American president Lyndon Baines Johnson
- Mary Lee Robb (1926-2006), American actress
- Muriel Robb (1878–1907), British tennis player
- Natalie J. Robb (born 1974), Scottish actress
- Paul Robb, musician
- Peter Robb (disambiguation), several people
- R. C. Robb, British athlete at the 1908 Summer Olympics
- Rafael Robb (born 1950), American economist
- Ralph Robb (1800–1850), Scottish clergyman
- Richard Robb FRSE (1901-1977) Scottish statistician and athlete in the 1928 Olympics
- Steven Robb (born 1982), Scottish footballer
- Thomas Robb (born 1946), Ku Klux Klan director
- National Records of Scotland website
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