This surname, widely recorded in Church Registers of Lancashire and Yorkshire from the late 16th Century under the variant spellings Robertshaw, Robishaw and Robtshay, is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational name form some minor, unrecorded, or now "lost" place believed to have been situated in Heptonstall, Yorkshire. The place was so called from its owner's personal name, Robert, ultimately from the Germanic "Hrodberht", composed of the elements "hrod", renown, and "berht", bright, famous, with the Olde English pre 7th Century "scaga", shaw, copse; hence, "Robert's shaw".An estimated seven to ten thousand villages and hamlets are known to have disappeared in Britain, mainly due to the enforced clearing of rural settlements to make way for sheep pastures at the height of the wool trade from the 15th Century on, and also due to such natural causes as the Black Death of 1348, in which an eighth of the population perished. On February 5th 1580, Edrus Robtshay and Jana Wales were married at Elland, Yorkshire, and on May 3rd 1701, John, son of William Robshaw, was christened at St. Peter's, Leeds, Yorkshire. The christening of John Robshaw, an infant, took place at All Saints, Wakefield, on May 30th 1704. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Ana Robtshay, which was dated October 10th 1574, marriage to Jacobus Dugdall, at Whalley, Lancashire, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, known as "Good Queen Bess", 1558 - 1603. 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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