This interesting and curious surname is of early medieval English origin, and is a locational name from the old lands of Ryburn in the parish of Dunlop, Ayrshire. The placename is composed of the northern Middle English "ray", a roebuck (Olde English pre 7th Century "ra"), and "-burn", a stream (Olde English "burna, burne"). During the Middle Ages when migration for the purpose of job seeking was becoming more common, people often used their former village name as a means of identification, resulting in a wide dispersal of the name. Variants of Raeburn in the modern idiom include Ryburn, Rayburn, Reburn and Reyburn. The surname first appears in records in the early 14th Century (see below), while Andrew de Raburn, burgess of Glasgow, and John of Raburn, a witness there, appear in Glasgow records in 1430 and 1454, respectively. Thomas Raburn was vicar in the choir of Glasgow in 1468, according to Glasgow Episcopal Registers. The name is also found in Aberdeen, where David Riburn was burgess in 1409. Sir Henry Raeburn (1756 - 1823) was a notable portrait painter. His son was granted a Coat of Arms in 1841, which depicts, on a piece of green ground, a roebuck statant proper, drinking out of a blue brook, on a silver field; on an ermine canton, a knight's helmet proper, with the Motto "Robur in Deo" (Strength in God). The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William de Raeburn, which was dated 1331, in "Manuscripts of Robert Mordaunt Hay, of Duns Castle", during the reign of King David 11 of Scotland, 1329 - 1371. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this 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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