This unusual surname is of Old Norse origin and is found particularly in Scotland. It derives from an Old Norse personal name 'Kobbi', itself from an element meaning large, and the Gaelic 'bain', denoting a fair person, but is pronounced in common speech Cobban, with the diminutive ('little' or 'son of') form Cobbie. The following examples illustrate the name development after 1488 (see below): Andrew Couban or Coban (1633-1636) and Alexander Cobane married Jeane Reid on March 22nd 1658 at Old Machar, Aberdeen. The name is also recorded in Fochabers in 1705 as Coban, and on April 25th 1862 at High Church, Glasgow, Lanarkshire, one Edward Cobain, the infant son of Edward and Ann Cobain (nee Robertson), was christened. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Patrick Coben (burgess), which was dated 1486, Aberdeen, Scotland, during the reign of King James 111 of Scotland, 1460-1488. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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