This very interesting surname is recorded in the registers of England, Scotland, Ireland, France and Germany. It is recorded under the spellings Roby, Robey, Rouby, Roubay, Ruby, Rubi, Rubee and Roeby, and it is very difficult to give a precise origin for any spelling. The surname has at least three primary sources, each with its own history and derivation. Firstly it may be of Old French origin, and a locational name from Roubaix in Nord, France. Initially the name was recorded as "de Roubaix" , an example being in 1411 the marriage of Marie De Roubaix to Antoine De Croy at Roubaix, in the district of Nord.The Irish surname is from this source, is probably Huguenot, and is first recorded in County Cork in 1702 when Catherine Rubie married Matthias Smith at Cork city. The second main source of the surname, is the pre -medieval 6th century Anglo-Saxon given name "Robert", which was the basis of many nickname spellings such as Rob, Robbie, Robbin, and Robbey. Finally, the name may be of 8th century Viking origin, and locational from a place called Robey in Derbyshire or Roby in Lancashire. These place names derive from the Old Norse "ra", meaning a boundary mark, with "by", a farm or settlement. Examples of the surname recording include James Roubay, who married Helen Blunt at St Vedast's church, Foster Lane, London, in 1599, Elizabeth Roby christened at Farnworth, Lancashire, in 1639, and John Robey, who married Mary Coles at St Dunstans in the East, Stepney, on October 23rd 1773. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Jean de Roubaix, which was dated 1389, in Birth Registers of Roubaix, Nord, France, during the reign of King Charles V1, of the House of Valois, 1380 - 1422. 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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