This most interesting surname is of Old Gaelic origin, and is a variant of "Cribben", which itself is the Anglicized form of the Gaelic name "MacRoibin", meaning "son of (mac) Robin", a patronymic from the Anglo-Norman French given name "Robin". Robin itself is composed of "Rob", a diminutive of "Robert", and the hypocoristic suffix "-in". Modern variants of the surname include Cribbins, Crebbin, Gribbin and Gribbon. The surname itself is now widespread in the north-eastern counties of Ulster, and has long been on record in Counties Down and Armagh as "O'Gribben". MacRoben and MacRobyn occur in the Fiants from 1566 - 1573 in Counties Louth, Carlow and Wexford. O'Gribbin appears in the Co. Armagh Hearth Money Rolls of 1664 - 1665, as does MacGribben, and two Gaelic scribes of some note, recorded in the 17th and 18th Centuries were O'Gribins from Co. Down. In 1866 there were forty-seven births registered for Gribben, andGribbon, all but two occurred in Ulster. Matthew Gribben, aged 35 yrs., a farmer, emigrated from Newry for New York during the Famine, on April 23rd 1846, aboard the "Brothers", with his wife, Betty, aged 30 yrs. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Macroben (no known personal name), which was dated circa 1566, in the "Irish Fiants", during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, known as "Good Queen Bess", 1558 - 1603. 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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