I am aware of speculation regarding the origin of the name Robley and it's variations, Roblee, Robles etc. One theory is that the name is of French Huguenot origin, and that the connection is through those Huguenots who migrated from France to England, and the North American Colonies, following the repeal of the Edict of Nantes in 1685.
It is a historical fact that such a migration took place and that prior to that date there were Robles in France, Belgium and the Netherlands in the mid to late 1500s, at least. The IGI records a Roblee in the Netherlands in 1714. Similarly, the IGI records the marriage of Jean Vermilye to Marie Roubley in the French Huguenot Church in Threadneedle St., London in about 1600. There are two christenings recorded also: Marie Roubley abt.1579 and Jean de Vermeille in1606.
These may be connected in some way. However, while these events precede the Treaty of Nantes by some considerable time, they do demonstrate that variations on the name Robley were present in England and Northern Europe from early times. The IGI does not record any other possible French versions of the name in Britain for that period following the Huguenot migration.
However, from the IGI and various wills and inventories it is clear that Robleys, and close variations of the name, were well established, and in some cases landowners/yeomen in North West England, from at least the mid 1500s. Their distribution was extremely localised and centered on two areas, one in the environs of Carlisle, Cumberland and the second, also in Cumberland, in the Parish of Greystoke.
In an attempt to identify how the Robleys came to these areas I have gone back in history to the time of the Norman Conquest. In those days the Border country between Scotland and England was quite harsh and unattractive. It seemed that, apart from the inclement climate of the region, the area had been in a state of decline since Roman times. The land had ceased to be cultivated, the city of Carlisle was in ashes and had been so since the Danish incursion of 874. The area was a battleground between the two nations.
The Norman French invasion of Britain in 1066 saw particularly brutal treatment meted out to the north of the country. In 1068 and again in 1072, William attacked and devastated the northern counties assuming control of the area from the Scots. He then 'granted' the area to Ranulph de Meschines.
In 1091, Malcolm of Scotland again attacked northern England but soon made peace with William Rufus, the Conqueror's successor. The presence of the King, at this time, had a very marked effect on the borders. Rufus was delighted with the situation of Carlisle and the surrounding fertile country and ordered that the city be rebuilt. Carlisle was fortified and a castle and public buildings erected. It is said that he brought in a colony of Flemings to do the building and once they had completed the work sent them to Anglesey in north Wales.
He replaced them with troops from the southern counties, who were skilled in agriculture, to re-introduce cultivation to the area which had been discontinued since Roman times, and to teach their skills to the local people. There is a strong contention that the majority of these 'experts' were not in fact English but from elsewhere. If indeed they were not English, then they must have been from continental Europe and as the requirement was for subjects who would settle the Forest of Inglewood area,and fill a void with people loyal to the Crown, they were probably Norman French.
The place name 'Unthank', on the border of the Forest, means land settled without the consent of the owner and could well reflect these events.
I believe that the Robleys in both America and northern England had their origins in France, or the Netherlands, but that the two events were widely separated in time. The American Robleys (Roblees) probably date from the time of the Huguenots (post 1685), and subsequent migrations from the north of England.The Cumbrian Robleys, I feel, were most likely introduced from Europe as a result of William Rufus desire to populate and cultivate the Forest of Inglewood and surrounding lands. The research carried out by Marian Foster and myself, increasingly points to the fact that all the Robleys in the north of England are related, with farming somewhere in the family background, and therefore almost certainly associated with a single event in history. Was this event 'the cultivation of Cumberland' in the 12th Century?
John Robley. Lesmurdie, W. Australia. April, 2002
John Robley wrote this article as a "possible discussion provoker". There must be other theories, besides his, as to where we all came from. We would like to hear your views, in the form of either letters or articles.
Marian Robley Foster. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
John mentions the surname Robles in his article. On the IGI, interfiled with Robley, Roblee etc., I found Mordochay Robles, Moseh Robles, Ribca de Robles, Jacob de Roblez. John himself commented that their Christian names sounded Jewish. A search of the internet confirms this; Robles is a Sephardic Jewish surname. See:
Marian Robley Foster
It was the Rublees that got me started on genealogy. That is my mother's maiden name. Later, I discovered the connection to Robblee and Roblee (and possibly other variations). Since these names are relatively unusual in this country (America), I started on the task of collecting them. It's been fun, and I've been doing it for over twenty years.The earliest records we have been able to find are in Huntington, N.Y. - on Long Island in the early 1700's. We have no idea from where they sprang! Some of the earliest spellings seem to be Rublier and Rublear. Kind of suggestive of French origin, but who knows. There is speculation that this is a variant of Rapalje - a Joris Rapalje was of French/Belgian descent whose family spent a generation or two in the Netherlands. He and his family came here with the very earliest of Dutch settlers of New Amsterdam. I have not been able to prove (or disprove) this theory.
It's a mystery!
Je suis aussi une Roblet. Je fais depuis plusieurs année de la genealogie avec mon pere Michel Roblet. Meme si je n'ai pas du remonter dirrectement dans l'histoire de la famille, je sais que "mes" Roblet viennent de l'est de la France et qu'ils etaient certainement protestant. Dans vos recherches avez vous recontrez ROBLET ou ROBLAIS? Vous trouverez plus de reseignements sur ma famille sur mon site: url