A Name with Plenty of Razzle Dazzle; the Fifth Most Popular Name on Merseyside, as Our Genealogy Series Continues

Article excerpt


THE surname Roberts first appeared in England during the reign of Edward the Confessor (1042-1066). The name means "fame bright" and its origin is either German or old French.

The first reference to the surname in the records dates from 1086 when the Domesday Book was compiled on the orders of the first Norman monarch, William the Conqueror (himself the son of a Robert). The name was recorded in Kent and has since spread rapidly.

It is very common in Wales, derived from the first name Robert, a translation of the original Germanic hrodberaht 'hrod' meaning fame and 'beraht' meaning bright.

In Wales it seems Roberts takes the same origin as Hughes.

It is thought it started at first as just a convenient way of writing other names.

Hywel became Hughes and over the 15th and 16th centuries it gradually displaced the native name.

There are, of course, several other well known examples of this sort of name substitution. Llywelyn became Lewis, Gruffydd became Griffith(s) and the old Welsh name of Iorwerth often became Edward(s).

The name has a host of variants in both its first and second name usage.

As a first name it formed the nickname for policemen, bobbies, after Sir Robert Peel who formed London's Metropolitan Police.

The most common surnames derived from Roberts are Robertson, Robinson, Robbins, Robson, Robeson and Dobkins.

Bartholomew Roberts, 'Black Bart' as he became known, was born in 1682.

He became a pirate more by circumstance - but even so he captured a total of 400 ships and seized thousands of pounds worth of loot. …