This unusual and intriguing name is of early medieval English origin, of which it has two. Both are from Old Germanic personal names. The first being a diminutive form of Rabb, a form of the male given name Robert, from the elements "hrod", meaning renown, and "berht", bright, famous. The Normans adopted the name and introduced it into England after the Conquest of 1066, and it quickly became a popular male given name, generating a number of variants and derivative surnames. Secondly, it may derive from the personal name "Radbodo "composed of the elements "rad", meaning counsel, and "bodo", a message or tidings. This was also introduced by the Normans as Radbode, and is so recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086. Later development from these origins included: Andrew Robat of Huntingdonshire in 1279, Thomas Robet of Cambridgeshire in 1327, and Reginald Rabett in the Hearth Tax rolls of Suffolk in 1524. Amongst the church recordings of the name in the county of Suffolk is the christening of Lambert Rabbitt, at Kelsale, on August 4th 1597. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Philip Rabot. This was dated 1260, in the "Charters relating to the Gilbertine Houses of Lincolnshire", during the reign of King Henry 11nd of England but known to history as "The Frenchman", 1216 - 1272. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this sometimes was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.

Surnames reference. 2013.

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