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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright © 2000 - 2016


Rabbit is a name that came to England in the 11th century wave of migration that was set off by the Norman Conquest of 1066. Rabbit comes from the given name Robert, which is adapted from the Norman personal name Radbode. This latter name is composed of the Germanic elements rad, meaning counsel or advice, and bodo, meaning message or tidings.

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The surname Rabbit was first found in Suffolk where "this ancient family who have resided at Bramfield for several centuries, claim a Norman descent." [1] Following the Norman descent deeper, we found "Hugh Rabace in Normandy 1180-95 and Gerard Rabes there in 1198." [2] However, the family was clearly in England about the same time: "Robert Rabaz gave Kenilworth or Chillingworth Church, Northamptonshire to De la Pré Abbey, which gift was confirmed by Henry II. [his reign: 5 March 1133-6 July 1189]" [2] St. Andrew's Church, Bramfield is a 13th century church which has ledger slabs of members of the Rabett and Nelson families.

Before English spelling was standardized a few hundred years ago, spelling variations of names were a common occurrence. Elements of Latin, Norman French and other languages became incorporated into English throughout the Middle Ages, and name spellings changed even among the literate. The variations of the surname Rabbit include Rabbit, Rabett, Rabit, Rabbitt and others.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Rabbit research. Another 173 words (12 lines of text) covering the years 1298, 1313, 1316 and 1467 are included under the topic Early Rabbit History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 75 words (5 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Rabbit Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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In England at this time, the uncertainty of the political and religious environment of the time caused many families to board ships for distant British colonies in the hopes of finding land and opportunity, and escaping persecution. The voyages were expensive, crowded, and difficult, though, and many arrived in North America sick, starved, and destitute. Those who did make it, however, were greeted with greater opportunities and freedoms that they could have experienced at home. Many of those families went on to make important contributions to the young nations in which they settled. Early immigration records have shown some of the first Rabbits to arrive on North American shores:

Rabbit Settlers in United States in the 19th Century


  • Michael Rabbit who settled in Philadelphia in 1851
  • John Rabbit, who arrived in Indiana sometime between 1853 and 1855

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  • Thomas C. Rabbit, American Democrat politician, Alternate Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Washington, 1944
  • Roy Rabbit, American politician, Candidate for U.S. Representative from Idaho 1st District, 1924


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  1. ^ Lowe, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  2. ^ The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X)

Other References

  1. Holt, J.C. Ed. Domesday Studies. Woodbridge: Boydell, 1987. Print. (ISBN 0-85115-477-8).
  2. Thirsk, Joan. The Agrarian History of England and Wales. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: 7 Volumes. Print.
  3. Burke, Sir Bernard. General Armory Of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Ramsbury: Heraldry Today. Print.
  4. Dunkling, Leslie. Dictionary of Surnames. Toronto: Collins, 1998. Print. (ISBN 0004720598).
  5. Ingram, Rev. James. Translator Anglo-Saxon Chronicle 1823. Print.
  6. Leeson, Francis L. Dictionary of British Peerages. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1986. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-1121-5).
  7. Innes, Thomas and Learney. The Tartans of the Clans and Families of Scotland 1st Edition. Edinburgh: W & A. K. Johnston Limited, 1938. Print.
  8. Hanks, Hodges, Mills and Room. The Oxford Names Companion. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002. Print. (ISBN 0-19-860561-7).
  9. MacAulay, Thomas Babington. History of England from the Accession of James the Second 4 volumes. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1879. Print.
  10. Le Patourel, John. The Norman Empire. New York: Oxford University Press, 1976. Print. (ISBN 0-19-822525-3).
  11. ...

The Rabbit Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Rabbit Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 10 February 2016 at 07:54.

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