Robin family history

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Robin family history



This article by the Rev J A Messervy was first published in French in the Annual Bulletin of La Société Jersiaise in 1907. It has been translated by Jerripedia editor Mike Bisson


The Robin family is very old in Jersey. The Armorial gives it an Italian origin, but in the absence of irrefutable proof, we believe that it is much more probable that the name originated in the island itself, as with many other family names. It was originally a baptismal name – very common in Jersey – which became a family name in the distant past.

[Editor’s note: Although the name is found in Jersey records as early as 1274, and in every major document from then onwards, it is impossible to prove that it originated in the island. It is a common surname in the UK, in various forms (Robin, Robins, Robinson) but the earliest English record is from 1279, which does tend to suggest that the surname could have developed independently in Jersey from the personal name Robert, as it did elsewhere. After all, the name was very important in Jersey in the 11th and 12th centuries. Robert the Magnificent was Duke of Normandy and ultimate ruler of the Channel Islands from 1028 to 1035, followed by William the Conqueror, and then his son Robert Curthose from 1087 to 1106. When Messervy wrote his genealogical articles at the beginning of the 20th century, much less was known about the origins of surnames. His contention that many family names originated in Jersey has been largely disproved, as one by one the early families have been found to be immigrants to the island. But Robin is one of those which still clings to an island origin.]

1274 Extente

A Robin family was already established in Jersey in the 13th century. In the Extente of 1274 Michel Renaud and Robert Robin and their co-heirs [the writer used an obscure French word ‘parconniers’ for co-heirs] held a bouvée of land in the parish of Grouville, for which the owed the King one quarter of wheat rents. In the Assize Roll of 1309 the following names appear

  • Jean Robin, parish unknown
  • Ralph (Radulphus) Robyn of St Peter
  • Robert Robin jnr of Grouville

In 1324 Ralph Robin was one of the six electores of the parish of St Lawrence. Several Robins figure in the Extente of 1331:

  • Pierre Robin, for a bouvée of land in Grouville. It was probably his descendants who gave their name to a property called La Robinerie in the fief du Roi of Grouville, belonging in 1736 to his Majesty.
  • Raoul Robin, one of the 12 jurors for the parish of St Brelade
  • Raoul Robin, probably the same, for a bouvée of land at St brelade
  • Richard Robin, one of the jurors for the parish of St Lawrence
  • Raoul Robin for a bouvée of land in St Lawrence

Castle seige

In 1338 Colin Robin was among the defenders of Mont Orgueil Castle beseiged by French Admiral Béhuchet. He probably owed military service by virtue of his tenancy. In the 15th century, as oneknows, documents for the majority of Jersey families are missing. However, the partage of the inheritance of Michel Le Febvre in 1479 shows that Guillotin Robin was living at this time.

At the beginning of the 16th century there were two or three branches of Robin in St Peter and one or two in St Ouen. For example, in 1531 Jean Robin was one of the principals of St Peter, and another Jean Robin was one of the principals of St Ouen. A branch of this family was maintained in St Ouen until very recently. In 1793 Philippe Robin, son of Thomas, husband of Catherine Hamon, leased his house and land at St Ouen on the grand fief and fief d’Orillandes to Jean Le Boutillier, for 14 quarters of wheat rente. We believe that this property was at Leoville.

Sire Balthazar Robin, priest, belonged to one of these branches. He took holy orders at Coutances on 11 September 1508, as is shown in the registers of the secretariat of the diocese of that town. The same document reveals the existence of a Jean Robin, alias Beauvoir, who was a witness of the nomination of Sire John Poulet as Rector of St Martin, Jersey, on 30 October 1553.

This Jean Robin, called Beauvoir, whose name also appears in the Jersey Rolls, must have been a Jerseyman or Guernseyman.

Another member of the family, Sire Benoit (or Benest) Robin, priest, was appointed Rector of St Ouen on 9 June 1554 in place of Sire Richard Payn. He was still there in 1559 but seems soon after to have retreated to private life, perhaps because he refused to embrace the Reformation. Several years later there is a mention of Benoist Robin, ‘’clerc’’, a title generally given to priests who had not become Rectors or protestant ministers.

Sire Benoist Robin died in about 1581, because in that year Estienne Lorge, as husband of the daughter of Magdolain Robin, demanded half the inheritance of Benoist Robin, ‘’clerc’’. Magdolain was in 1549 a noted merchang and it was he in 1551 who brought to Jersey the artillery pieces for the parishes of St Peter and St Lawrence.

Vingtaine des Augerez

The particular branch which is the subject of this study was established in the Vingtaine des Augerez of St Peter in the 16th century. The baptismal name Raulin was frequently used by this family at this time and it is curious to note that the name is a derivative of Raoul, a name carried by a Robin of St Peter in 1309.

Jean Robin, of Augerez, son of Raulin, died fairly young, in about 1582. His eldest son Raulin had a long and useful municipal career. To begin with, for some time treasurer of St Peter’s Church, he was installed on 15 October 1614 by the Constable and parish principals one of the procureurs du bien public of St Peter – his father having already held this position in 1579 – and he had the role for at least 30 years. On 28 November 1618 he was sworn in as Centenier of St Peter and held this position for nearly 30 years. During the Civil War Raulin Robin was a partisan of the Royalist cause.

A contract of 1614 shows that the house of this Raulin Robin and that of Jean Robin, son of Guillaume, his cousin, situated on the fief of Nobretez at St Peter, were neighbours, that the main road passed between them, and that there was a colombier on Raulin Robin’s property. The right to have a colombier was an envied feudal privilege.

Raulin and Jean Robin figured in a contract of 15 September 1626 as the first two among 13 ’loyal men of property’ called as witnesses in a case involving the right of Francois de Carteret, seigneur of Nobretez, to also have a a colombier on his property. The contract shows that Raulin Robin was 55 years old.

Gedeon Robin, Raulin’s only son, died during his father’s life in 1640. He had married Judith, daughter of Jurat Pierre de Carteret, a descendant of the seigneurs of Vinchelez de Haut, a junior branch of St Ouen. She died in December 1647 and her will was presented to the Royal Court by her brother Helier de Carteret, Attorney-General, in January 1648.

Raulin Robin, only son of Gedeon, held several important posts. On 20 July 1661, agedonly 22, he was sworn in as Centenier and Procureur du Bien Public of St Peter. He became an Advocate of the Royal Court on 28 April 1664, Constable of St Peter on 3 June 1673, Registrar of Contracts on 9 April 1681, and finally, in June 1686, he was elected Jurat, remaining in office until his death in December 1693.

New house

He had obtained from the Royal Court, by Act of 8 December 1674, permission to build a house on ‘the garden of Hamptonne, part of the heritage of the late Pierre Fondan, son of Pierre, where there was once a house which is now demolished, because it is the site of an old building and the well still functions’.

The house constructed by Raulin Robin is probably that occupied by several generations of his descendants and which was inherited later by Sir Jean Dumaresq, Lieut-Bailiff, who enlarged it or reconstructed it. This property is now called St Peter's House.

In 1687 Raulin Robin undertook an action against Henry de Carteret, Seigneur of Nobretez, the fief on which the Robin property was situated. De Carteret had enlarged his colombier, and Raulin Robin pleaded to the Court that this was prejudicial to him, but we are unaware whether a judgment was pronounced in this case.

The contract for the partage of the bequests of Raulin Robin, son of Gedeon, is dated 8 Septmber 1694; it can be seen that his eldest son Raulin, had by right of succession, the house, colombier and a large number of fields.

Bailiff

Like his father, Raulin Robin followed a long and honourable political career. On 21 August 1686, aged 18, he was sworn in as an Advocate of the Royal Court, doubtless replacing his father who had been elected Jurat. He took the oath as Constable of St Peter on 3 September 1689 and was promoted Jurat on 16 December 1700. On 25 May 1713 he was appointed Lieut-Bailiff by Sir Charles de Carteret, Baronet, the previous office holder, Charles Dumaresq, having ceased to officiate through illness.

In this era the Bailiff lived in England and rarely came to Jersey. The Lieut-Bailiff was, in reality, the Chief Magistrate of the island [the term for the president of the Royal Court which was in common use until the 20th century]. Raulin Robin held this position for two years, until the death of Charles de Carteret in 1715.

In 1730 the problems relating to currency exchange rates caused the Lieut-Bailiff, Philippe Le Geyt, to leave the island. Raulin Robin was sworn in as Juge-Délégué, a position he occupied from 10 September to 14 November that year.

Colombier

Like his father Raulin Robin was involved in an action concerning a colombier. Henry de Carteret, seigneur of the fief of Nobretez, actioned Raulin Robin, one of his tenants, for having knocked down the side walls of his volière à pigeons situated on the fief and for having extended it by a storey, 'tending to ruin the seigneur's colombier and the ploughing of his tenants'.

De Carteret demanded that Robin be condemned to demolish the new construction. The Court judged that Robin could finish his aviary and cover it, without changing the nature of the servitude to the seigneur. De Carteret appealed to the Privy Council against this judgment but an Order in Council of 30 July 1711 confirmed the judgment of the Royal Court and condemned Henry de Carteret to pay Robin 40 shillings for his costs.

Lieut-Bailiff Raulin Robin was seigneur of several fiefs. On 11 October 1698 he acquired by retrait linager (the right by which any blood relation of a seller could buy back a property for same price as the buyer had paid) the fiefs of Orville and Prieur en St Pierre, which had been acquired from Abraham de Carteret, a relation of Raulin Robin, by Michel du Pré. A little later, by contract of 11 April 1704, he acquired for and the name of Raulin, his minor son, from Philippe Journeaux, the fief of Sauvelle in St Peter for the sum of 150 livres tournois.

He was also, on behalf of Marie de Carteret, his secon wife, seigneur of l'Eveque d'Avranches, and he owned in 1702 the house and lands of Handois in St Lawrence, a considerable property. In 1709 he was also proprietor of a house on the Boulevard at St Aubin.

Raulin Robin (former Lieut-Bailiff) died in June 1731, leaving a large family. His eldest son Raulin, who did not hold any important public post, only left a daughter, Marie, wife of Jurat Jean Dumaresq (son of Elie, son of Philippe), and mother of Sir Jean Dumaresq, lieut-Bailiff.

It was through this alliance that the Robin properties passed to the Dumaresq family. George Dumaresq, grandson of Jean, disposed of the property, which now belongs to Sir William Venables Vernon, Bailiff.

George Robin, one of the younger sons of the Lieut-Bailiff, became though his mother, Marie de Carteret, Seigneur of l'Eveque d'Avranches, but he obtained permission to relinquish the position by Letters Patent of 24 September 1749. Jean Robin, George's younger brother, settled at St Aubin after his marriage to Marie Le Couteur, in a house close to the quay on the fief of Noirmont, exchanged with that of Thomas Pipon on behalf of his wife Elisabeth Pipon.

Weather vane demolished

In 1736 this Jean Robin was actioned for having demolished a mast and weather vane, erected at their cost by several inhabitants of St Aubin, on Mont Arthur, close to St Aubin on the fief of Noirmont. The Court ordered him to replace everything at his own cost.

It is from Philippe Robin, another son of the Lieut-Bailiff, that the present representatives of the family are descended. His baptismal record in the St Peter registers shows:

":Philippe, son of Raulin Robin, and Marie de Carteret, his wife, was presented for baptism on Monday 31 May 1703 by Charles de Carteret, Seigneur of St Ouen, Sark etc, gentleman of Queen Anne's private chamber, Charles de Carteret, Seigneur of Trinity and his wife Judith Ricard."

Philippe Robin settled at St Aubin after his marriage with Anne, the heiress of a branch of the Dauvergne family. He died at the age of 51, leaving three sons, Philippe, Jean and Charles. The eldest, Philippe, had a long and honourable political career. He was sworn in as Constable of St Brelade on 18 April 1771 and became a Jurat on 7 December 1776, remaningon the Bench for 45 years untilhis death in 1821. He had three sons, of whom more below.

His brother Jean was undoubtedly the Major Robin who took part in the Battle of Jersey on 6 January 1871, and of whom William Charles Lempriere, in a letter to his father Charles Lempriere, Seigneur of Rosel, spoke in eloquent terms. It was thanks to the quickness of Major Robin that the Jersey Militia avoided a disaster.

Charles Robin, youngest brother, was, we believe, the founder of the important business which acquired vast territory in Newfoundland and gave rise to this country's fishery business. He returned from Paspebiac to Jersey in 1802 and died in the island of his birth in 1824 at an advanced age.

Benefactor

Jersey honours his memory as one of its greatest benefactors. Charles Robin bequeathed 3,000 pounds Sterling to the General Hospital on the following conditions:

  • The interest from 1000 pounds was to be used as payment for an Anglican minister who would officiate at the hospital on Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays. This minister had to be a native of Jersey and not Rector of an island parish.
  • The rest would be used to build a wing of the hospital

These conditions were observed. A new wing was build and on it are sculpted the arms of the Robin family.

The three brothers were buried in a family tomb at St Brelade. The stone door bears the arms of Robin and a long epitaph.

Philippe Robin the elder son of the Jurat of that name, died without issue. In 1769 he was guardian of Jean Dumaresq, who was later Lieut-Bailiff and Knighted. The second, Jean, settled in England where he is now represented by this grandson, the Rev Percival Carteret Robin. The third, James Robin, was presented for baptism in St Brelade's Parish Church on 16 November 1774 by James Pipon and Elizabeth Dumaresq. He spent a long part of his early years in Canada but returned to settle in the island of his birth.

On 12 January 1822 James Robin bought from James Hammond, elder son and principal heir of Jacques Lempriere Hammond, 'his large house with the farm and buildings, gardens etc together known as Le Petit Menage', situated in the Parish of St Saviour, on the fiefs of Grainville and Gorges, and partly in St Helier, on the fief Buisson, for the price of 6,000 pounds Sterling.

Some years later, that is on 26 August 1826, he acquired from Philippe and Francois Godfray (having the right from Jean Poingdestre by contract of 25 August 1825), the fief and seigneurie of Grainville in the Parish of St Saviour, for the price of 12,000 pounds Sterling, according to the King's Order.

Finally, on 10 November 1827, he acquired from the administrator of Matthieu Gosset, eldest son and principal heir of the late Matthieu Gosset, the fief and seigneurie of Petit Rosel in St Saviour, on condition that this fief was united with and incorporated in the fief de Grainville for ever, for the price of 1 quarter of wheat rente annually.

Government House court case

On these two fiefs is situated the property once known as Belmont, now Government House. We recall an action with took place concerning this property between James Robin and several Lieut-Governors. Major-General Halkett, Lieut-Governor, had acquired in the name of his Majesty, by exchange with Matthieu Amiraux, on 5 January 1822, the house and lands known as Belmont. George IV having died in 1830 without direct heirs, James Robin, as seigneur of these fiefs, claimed seigneural rights and demanded that Major General Thornton relinquish the succession.

It was ruled in May 1833 that this issue was beyond the competence of the Cour du Samedi.

The case was then pleaded before the Cour d'Heritage which judged on 10 October 1833 that the Seigneur of Grainville had the right to an indemnity. The Lieut-Governor appealed to the Superior Number but on 5 May 1834 it confirmed the judgment of the Inferior Number. Major General Thornton appealed to the Privy Council and finally an Order in Council of 12 July 1837 confirmed the judgment of the Royal Court in favour of James Robin.

The Robin family is now represented by the Rev Percival Carteret Robin, of Woodchurch Rectory, Birkenhead, and in a junior branch by Charles Janvrin Robin of Steephill, St Saviour.

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