Rapson History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The age-old Pictish-Scottish family name Rapson is derived from the personal name Robert. This name is composed of the old English elements hroth, which means fame, and berht, which means bright. Although this Clan had the early appearance of being English, the Robsons were one of the four principal Clans of the North Tyne area just south of the Scottish Border in the sixteenth century. Their progenitor was Robert, the second son of George Gunn, the Crowner of Scotland. The Gunn Clan territories were in northern Scotland and they were of Norse origin together with their overlords, the Sinclairs.

Early Origins of the Rapson family

The surname Rapson was first found in Northumberland, where the name was quite distinct from both Robinson and Robertson, although in early records of the Clan the Robson name was frequently spelled Robison, literally Robi's son.

" Northumberland is the great home of the Robsons, particularly the district of North Tyne, where they have been established since the 12th or 13th century (C.). They formed one of the four principal clans of North Tyne in the 16th century, and were the hereditary foes of the Armstrongs of Liddesdale on the Scottish side of the border. Though scattered over Northumberland, the Robsons are still numerous in North Tyne; and in the parish of Falstone, where as 'lairds' they have held property for some 400 years, they are yet well represented. The name has obtained but little hold across the border, but it has extended southward in force into the county of Durham; it reaches Yorkshire in diminished numbers, and dies out in Lincolnshire." [1]

In Scotland, the name first appears soon after the death of George Gunn in the 15th century: Patrick Robson was recorded in 1436, Donald Robson in 1446 and Wyllie Robyson witnessed a feud in 1476. From this point the Clan flourished on both sides of the border, with the Chiefly branch on the Scottish side. It is not altogether surprising that with this Clan straddling the England- Scotland border a John and Edward Robison were charged with defrauding the king's customs in 1524. [2]

"The English Robsons formed one of the four principal clans of North Tyne in the sixteenth century. In Bullein's Dialogue they are described as 'a wight riding sirname, good honest men and true, saving a little shifting for their living.' " [2]

Early History of the Rapson family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Rapson research. Another 331 words (24 lines of text) covering the years 1567, 1550, 1600, 1587, 1590, 1597, 1604, 1633, 1654, 1650, 1598, 1638, 1598, 1613, 1615, 1616, 1619, 1629, 1620, 1623 and are included under the topic Early Rapson History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Rapson Spelling Variations

In the Middle ages, spelling and translation were not yet regulated by any general rules. spelling variations in names were common even among members of one family unit. Rapson has appeared Robson, Robison, Robeson, Robisonn and others.

Early Notables of the Rapson family (pre 1700)

Notable amongst the Clan at this time was Charles Robson (1598-1638), English divine, first chaplain at Aleppo, of Cumberland parentage, the son of Thomas Robson, master of the Free School of Carlisle. "Born in 1598, having entered Queen's College, Oxford, as batler at Easter 1613, he matriculated thence on 5 May 1615, aged 17. He graduated B.A...
Another 57 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Rapson Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Rapson family to Ireland

Some of the Rapson family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 58 words (4 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


Canada Rapson migration to Canada +

Faced by this persecution and the generally unstable political climate of those days, many Scots chose to leave their homeland for Ireland, Australia, and North America in search of greater opportunity and freedom. The colonies across the Atlantic were the most popular choice, but a passage there was neither cheap nor easily suffered. Passengers arrived sick and poor, but those who made it intact often found land and more tolerant societies in which to live. These brave settlers formed the backbone of the burgeoning nations of Canada and the United States. It is only this century that the ancestors of these families have begun to recover their collective identity through the patriotic highland games and Clan societies that have sprung up throughout North America. Research into early immigration and passenger lists revealed many immigrants bearing the name Rapson:

Rapson Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • James Rapson, who landed in Canada in 1832

Australia Rapson migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Rapson Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Sampson Rapson, (b. 1824), aged 25, Cornish farm labourer from South Hill, Cornwall, UK travelling aboard the ship "Tory" arriving in New South Wales, Australia on 9th April 1849 [3]
  • Mrs. Martha Rapson, (b. 1822), aged 27, Cornish settler from St. Cleer, Cornwall, UK travelling aboard the ship "Tory" arriving in New South Wales, Australia on 9th April 1849 [3]
  • Mr. Thomas Rapson, (b. 1811), aged 41, Cornish mason departing from Plymouth on 18th September 1852 aboard the ship "Persian" arriving in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia on 27th December 1852 [4]
  • Mrs. Eliza Rapson, (b. 1810), aged 42, Cornish settler departing from Plymouth on 18th September 1852 aboard the ship "Persian" arriving in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia on 27th December 1852 [4]
  • Mr. John Rapson, (b. 1812), aged 42, Cornish blacksmith departing from Plymouth on 16th July 1854 aboard the ship "Apolline" arriving in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia on 3rd November 1854 [4]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Rapson migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Rapson Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Frederick Rapson, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Empress" in 1865

Contemporary Notables of the name Rapson (post 1700) +

  • Rip Rapson, American president and CEO of The Kresge Foundation, a national foundation
  • Ralph Rapson 111 (1914-2008), American architect, the head of architecture at the University of Minnesota
  • Richard L. Rapson (b. 1937), American professor of History at the University of Hawaii
  • Ira John Rapson (b. 1953), American jazz trombonist and educator
  • Sydney Norman John "Syd" Rapson (b. 1942), British politician, Member of Parliament for Portsmouth North (1997-2005)
  • William Sage Rapson (1912-1999), New Zealand organic chemist


The Rapson Motto +

The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Justus esto et non metue
Motto Translation: Be just and fear not


  1. ^ Guppy, Henry Brougham, Homes of Family Names in Great Britain. 1890. Print.
  2. ^ Black, George F., The Surnames of Scotland Their Origin, Meaning and History. New York: New York Public Library, 1946. Print. (ISBN 0-87104-172-3)
  3. ^ Cornwall Online Parish Clerks. (Retrieved 2018, May 30). Ships' Passenger Lists of Arrivals in New South Wales on (1828 - 1842, 1848 - 1849) [PDF]. Retrieved from http://www.opc-cornwall.org/Resc/pdfs/emigration_nsw_1838_on.pdf
  4. ^ Cornwall Online Parish Clerks. (Retrieved 3rd May 2018). Retrieved from http://www.opc-cornwall.org/Resc/pdfs/emigration_australia_victoria.pdf


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