This very unusual surname is not recorded in any of the standard dictionaries of surnames. This is perhaps surprising as it has held an ennoblement since the middle of the 18th century when Sir John Proby was created 1st Earl of Carysfort. A coat of arms was granted in 1586 by Queen Elizabeth 1st to the Proby's of Elton Hall, Huntingdon and also West Chester, and it is from this grant that we are able to offer an explanation as to its origins. The grant is in the name of Proby or Ap Robin, almost certain proof as to its Welsh origins. Furthermore it is well recorded that Ap Robin, when anglicised by dialect certainly became 'Probin, Probyn, and Brobyn'. We have no reason not to accept that 'Proby, Probey, and Probee' are not other forms. If this is the case then the name translates as 'the son of Robin', with 'Ap' being equivalent to the Gaelic 'Mac'. Welsh surnames only became hereditary from the 16th century onwards, some four hundred years after the rest of the British Isles, and even then the early recordings of these Welsh surnames are usually found in English registers. In this case these include William Probin of Oldcastle, Malpas, Cheshire, in 1576, and Hugh Probyn of Newton, Cheshire, in 1578. Later examples are Edward Probey, who married Mary Chickin (!), at the church of St Magnus The Martyr, London, on February 5th 1626, whilst showing the versatility of name spellings, Daniel Probee was a witness at St Leonards church, Shoreditch, London, on July 20th 1760. Granville Leveson Proby, Admiral, (1781 - 1868) was present at the battle of the Nile and Trafalgar. The coat of arms has the blazon of an ermine field, on a red fesse, a gold lion passant. The crest is an ostrich holding in the mouth a key ore. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Probyn, which was dated 1550, in the will register of the county of Sussex, during the reign of King Edward V1, known as 'The boy king', 1547 - 1554. 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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