20 Sep 2011

Gribbin, Gribben, Gribbon – we are all one big family!


This family history was first posted by Anthony Joseph Gribbin, Limerick, Ireland, on the original “The Gribbin Family Resource Center” May 2000 and reposted again here August of 2008.  After reading First guess-timate: 5000 named members of our family! by Paul Gribben, I thought it would be timely to repost Anthony’s information again. For those of you that would want to contact Anthony, he passed away several years ago from an undisclosed illness.

I have researched Gribbins quite a lot from Church records and am constantly visiting National and other Archives to check on families. I managed to get a copy of a book of addresses of Gribbins worldwide. I have been writing to them all, unfortunately not all reply. I think this book originated from the Mormons and was sold door to door, (the Mormons records are good source of information and they put a lot of Church records on microfilm, otherwise they would have been lost). I think this book was dated about 1990.

Now for some family history of the name Gribbin.

The name Gribbin translates into the Gaelic as Mag Roibin now spelled in the modem way as MagRoibhin pronounced Mac Roivin. I have checked the directory of Irish names compiled by Dr. McLycett and he states that the name Gribbin spelled with “in” is the anglised version of MagRoibhin, the name Gribben, “en”, translates as O’Gribbin and the name Gribbon, “on”, translates into McGribbin. I don’t think that the names O’Gribbin and McGribbin are in use in the present day. According to an old directory of Irish medical terms, the name Roibhin, in the ancient spelling, means whisker or beard. Going on that, it seems that we are all decended from the whiskered or bearded one.

McLycett also states in later books that the name Gribbin is mentioned in the north west of Ireland, Donegal, in the 15th century. They were a Jacobite family which meant that they were possibly Catholic. In the north of Ireland some people changed their names to Gribben so that they would not be easily known to be Catholics. Sometimes when the names were entered in official documents the scribes made mistakes in spelling the name, even in the current Northern Ireland telephone directory my own brother Harry’s name is spelled as “en”. As he is in business and there was another Harry in the same buisness he decided to leave it as “en”. People sometimes spell my name wrongly as I am sure they do with yours but I always correct them.

I have heard that in the year A.D. 562 in Ireland an Abbot Roibhin had a dissagrement with St. Colmcille because he had a fight with the son of a local chieftan who was a friend of Roibhin. He was so annoyed that he wanted to excomunicate St. Colmcille from the church, but other church leaders disagreed with him, so it was decided that St. Colmcille would be banished to Scotland to convert the Picts, the Scotish pagans. I have been unable to confirm this in print but it was mentioned on a T.V. Programme on R.T.E. I don’t even know if the spelling of Roibhin was the same.

The earliest written reference to the name, that I have found, dates back to c1255-1263. This a copy of a deed which roughly translated states that: Michael, Prior of Tywardreath granted a plot of land to Thomas, son of Robert Gribbin on the deah of his father, who was the previous tenant. It is possible that the date could be earlier as a Richard Red, who was one of the witnesses was a theologian and a Richard Red a theologian died in Oxford in 1200. This information was given to me by a Francisian historian. The particular Abbey named was evacuated in early 1300s.

05/16/2000 – Anthony Joseph Gribbin – Limerick, Ireland


2 Responses to Gribbin, Gribben, Gribbon – we are all one big family!
  1. Is there a connection to Gribbin Head in southern England?

  2. Thomas Mark Gribbin Sr. September 21, 2011 at 1:39 pm Reply

    Wow! We must have had some real clout at one time, to get a Saint bounced over to Scotland. Amen!

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