The Clan/Sept History
When the Anglo- Normans began to settle in Ireland, they brought the tradition
of local surnames to an island which already had a Gaelic naming system of
hereditary surnames established. Unlike the Irish, the Anglo- Normans had an
affinity for local surnames. Local surnames, such as Tobin, were formed from the
names of a place or a geographical landmark where the person lived, held land,
or was born. The earliest Anglo-Norman surnames of this type came from Normandy,
but as the Normans moved, they created names that referred to where they
actually resided. Therefore, English places were used for names when the Normans
lived in England, and then Irish places after these particular Anglo- Normans
had been settled in Ireland for some time. Originally, these place names were
prefixed by de, which means from in French. However, this type of prefix was
eventually either made a part of the surname, if the place name began with a
vowel, or it was eliminated entirely. The Tobin family originally lived in the
settlement of Aubyn in France. Thus, the surname Tobin belongs to the class of
topographic surnames, which were given to people who resided near physical
features such as hills, streams, churches, or types of trees. The Tobin family
was originally called St. Aubyn, which was eventually corrupted to Tobin. The
Gaelic form of the surname is Tóibín.
Church officials and medieval scribes spelled names as they sounded; therefore,
single person, could have his name spelt many different ways during their
lifetime. While investigating the Origins of the name Tobin, many spelling
variations were encountered, including: Tobin, Torbyn, Tobyn and others.
First found in Devon, where they were seated at the manor of Ashton known as
"Place Barton," the heiress of this line married Sir John St. Aubyns. Sir John
was the heir of the St. Aubyns of St. Aubyn du Thenney in Normandy, and was
possessed of considerable estates at Pickwell, Georgeham, Berynarber, and
Paracombe in north Devon. The name St. Aubyn gradually eroded to Torbyn and then
Ireland's Great Potato Famine left the country's inhabitants in extreme poverty
and starvation. Many families left their homeland for North America for the
promise of work, freedom and land ownership. Although the Irish were not free of
economic and racial discrimination in North America, they did contriBute greatly
to the rapid development of bridges, canals, roads, and railways. Eventually,
they would be accepted in other areas such as commerce, education, and the arts.
An examination of immigration and passenger lists revealed many bearing the name
Tobin: David Tobin settled in Philadelphia in 1798; 1838; 1840; 1851; 1858;
Edward Tobin arrived in Philadelphia in 1838; 1866; 1872; and there were many
James, Johns, Michael, Patricks, Walters and Williams.
Motto Translated: Touch me not.
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