It is not often that we have the pleasure of researching a genuine 17th century Huguenot refugee surname, but Robilliard certainly falls into the category. In most cases these French names have become anglicised over the centuries often to the point of total obliteration of the original spelling. The Huguenot refugees often deliberately changed the spelling partly because to be French in the 17th and 18th Centuries laid one open to abuse, and partly because the British could not spell, and usually registered the name in a 'sounds like' form. 'Robilliard' is a developed form of Robert, and essentially means 'Little Robert' or perhaps 'Son of Robert' the spelling in France being usually Robillard, Rebillard or Robil(l)iart as shown in the first recording. Since the 18th century the name has been prominent in Guernsey, and is also presumably of Huguenot origins, although what may be the first recording, that of James Robillard at Torteval, on October 10th 1739, is much later than in London. There Anne Robiliart, the daughter of Robert and Marie, was christened at Threadneedle Street French Church on June 6th 1641, whilst later on November 9th 1717, Susanna Robilliard married Charles King at St Benets, Pauls Wharf, London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Joachim Robillard, which was dated June 1st 1541, christened at Amboise, Indre-et-Loire, France, during the reign of King Francis 1 of France, 1515 - 1547. 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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