Recorded as Rabbage, Rabacche and Rabidge, this is an English surname, but almost certainly of ancient French origins. It is believed to derive from the French Huguenot protestant surname Rabache, first recorded in England in the 17th century. An example being that of Marie Rabache, the daughter of Pierre Rabache, who married Claudius Amyand at the French church known as "La Patente", Spitalfields, in the city of London, on January 15th 1695. This was at the very height of the Huguenot period when persecution of the protestants in France had reached appalling levels of cruelty, and thousands of refugees each year were pouring across the Channel. The name is believed to describe a maker or wearer of top coats or cloaks. Many Huguenots were highly skilled artisans, and it is said that in fleeing France they greatly weakened its industrial output at a critical time, and gave Britain a lead in manufacturing which it kept for nearly two hundred years. The change in the spelling represents a gradual anglicising, at a time when to have a French name was to be politically incorrect even for a refugee. Early examples of the surname recording taken from surviving registers of Greater London include: Grace Rabbage who married James Harris at St Pancras Old Church, on October 26th 1774, and William John Rabidge, who was christened at St Mary Whitechapel, Stepney, on November 16th 1873.
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