Recorded in the spellings of Roback and Robak, these are forms of the more usual Roebuck. The surname is of pre 7th century Anglo-Saxon or Olde English origins, of which there are two possible sources. Firstly the name may be a nickname and derive from the Olde English word "ra" meaning roe, and the second element of "bucc", to give the roe-buck. Many early surnames were developed from the habitual use of nicknames, and these were given with reference to some fancied resemblance to an animal's or bird's appearance or characteristic behaviour. In this case it was a nickname for a fast runner, one with the speed of a deer. Other modern surnames derived from "ra" and "raege", the female deer, include Ray, Roe, Raye, Reye and Rae. Early examples of the developing surname from this source include Matilda Robuc in the Pipe Rolls of Yorkshire in 1297, and Richard Rabuk, also of Yorksire in the Poll Tax Rolls for that county in 1379. The second possible origin is locational and derive from a "sign-name". In this case the original namebearers may have lived "at the sign of the roebuck", an example being that of William atte Robuck, recorded in Parliamentary Writs of London in the year 1313. A sign name did not necessarily indicate an inn or a dealer in venison, it could just be a simple house sign, an early form of todays 'house numbers'. The first recorded spelling of the family name is believed to be that of Adam Rabuck , who was a witness at the Assize Court of Lancashire in 1246. This was during the reign of King Henry 111, known by the nickname of "The Frenchman", 1216 - 1272. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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