This distinguished surname, with more than forty entries in the "Dictionary of National Biography" and having no less than twenty-five Coats of Arms, is today regarded as Scottish in origin, but is probably English. It is a patronymic form of the male given name Rodbert or Robert, from the pre 7th century German name "Hrodebert". This was a compound of the elements "hrod", meaning renown and "berht", bright or famous. As Robert it was introduced by the Norman-French to both England and Scotland, prior to the famous Conquest of 1066, and replaced the pre-existing Anglo-Saxon name "Hreodbeorht", which had the literal translation, but probably not the meaning of 'bright rod'.The patronymic form of the surname is spelt variously as Robertson, Roberts, Robarts and Robeson, and amongst the early records is one which shows that Thomas Robertson, a merchant Scot, had a safe conduct to travel to England in 1444, although legend has it, that the patronymic Robertson was adopted by a Scottish family, after King Robert the Bruce of Scotland in circa 1306, said that he regarded them as his children. Nicholas Robertson, aged 30, was an early emigrant to America. He embarked from London on the ship "Blessing" bound for New England in June 1635. Alexander Robertson (1670 - 1749), thirteenth Baron of Struan, became chief of the clan Robertson in 1688. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Robertsone. This was dated 1327, in the "Subsidy Rolls of Derbyshire", during the reign of King Edward 111rd of England, 1327 - 1377. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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