I have hit somewhat of a wall in researching the European lines of my Robinson ancestors. I did learn of the possibility (vs. likelihood?) that Robinson is not a Scottish name, but rather originated in Northern England, and was further carried on after a Robinson Migration to Northern Ireland (Ulster Province, in particular).

Does anyone know of resources that can verify or debunk this information, and hopefully help me in identifying more of my ancestors?

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    Gut feeling is that verification of this sort of thing is nigh on impossible because surnames were introduced so far back. To state the obvious, the name must come from "English" speaking areas but I guess that this could include the Lowlands of Scotland where they spoke the related language Scots. Etymological origins of names have been challenged somewhat by statistical analyses of censuses that suggest single place origins of what appeared to be common English phrases. In your case, one suspects multiple origins but suspicion is not verification.
    – AdrianB38
    Feb 23, 2019 at 10:48
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    Multiple unrelated origins is the most likely possibility with a name that common and derived from "son of Robin" which is a very common given name. Your best bet is to narrow down which Robinson line you come from with Y-DNA. Easy to get the test (if you have a willing male in that line) but hard to interpret. Some people spend years.
    – Cyn
    Feb 24, 2019 at 3:26

2 Answers 2


As it is a patronymically derived name ..."Robin's son", the likelihood of there being any single attributable geographic origin is very unlikely.

Surname distribution maps derived from census information will show if it is more common in specific areas. The 1881 distribution data (http://gbnames.publicprofiler.org/) would certainly seem to support your information that is is predominantly found in northern England.


MacLysaght’s surname of Ireland says Robinson is an English name, and very common in Ulster.

Robinson & Robertson are interchangeable in Ireland and you often see families alternate between the 2 versions in official records in Ireland.

If you are interested in your particular Robinsons background, where did they live in Ireland and what denomination were they? And when did they leave? For example if they lived Co Antrim and were Presbyterian, and left in the 1700s, then they most probably originated in Scotland, in the 1600s (as did half the population of that county).

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