Origin, Meaning and Family History of the Corbet Name
Surname Name Meaning, Origin, and Etymology
There are several origin theories and meaning to this last name to this Anglo-Scottish name of Norman-French descent. First, it could be a locational name denoting a person from a locale called Corbett. Second, it may be a name given to the descendants of Corbet, a Norman Knight who accompanied William the Conqueror during the Norman Invasion of England in 1066 AD, who had a son named Robert from who the baronial house descended. One source asserts this Robert purchased (or was granted) the manor of Foghou from the earls of Dunbar around 1130 AD, and subsequently the Corbett family tree branched out into to Teviotdale and the manor of Malcarvestum. Roger le Corbet (or Fitz-Corbet) was granted several manors by William the Conqueror (Barony of Caus) who his assistance in the Conquest. In French, the word corbet or corbeau translate to “little raven”. It could also derive from Middle English, corbet, a diminutive of the word or name corn, referring to a person with dark hair or a dark complexion. By the 1100s AD, the Corbet family divided into two branches: the elder branch seated at Wattlesborough and the younger branch seated at Caus Castle.
Common spelling variants or names with similar etymologies include Corbet, Corbette, Corbbett, Corbit, Corbitt, Corburt, Carbert, Cobbett, Corban (Irish) and Corbitts.
Popularity & Geographic Distribution
The last name Corbett ranks 1,252nd in popularity in terms in the United Status as of the 2000 Census. The name ranks particularly high in the following eight states: North Carolina, New York, Massachusetts, Georgia, South Carolina, Maine, New Hampshire, and Montana. The spelling variant Corbet ranks 33,945th in the same census.
The surname Corbett frequency/commonness ranks as follows in the British Isles: England (649th), Scotland (613rd), Wales (742nd), Ireland (375th) and Northern Ireland (417th). In England, it ranks highest in county Shropshire. In Scotland, the surname Corbett ranks highest in county Sutherland. In Wales, it ranks highest in county Montgomeryshire. In Ireland, it ranks highest in counties Clare and Tipperary. In Northern Ireland, it ranks highest in county Down.
The name is also present throughout the remainder English speaking world: Canada (892nd), New Zealand (329th), Australia (642nd), and South Africa (1,988th).
The 1890 book Homes of Family Names by H.B. Guppy, states the following in regard to this surname: “Shropshire has been for centuries the principal home of the Corbetts. Corbet was a common name there in the 13th century, and, in fact, in the Hundred Rolls of that date this county includes almost all of the name. The ancient and powerful Shropshire family of Corbett dated back to the time of Edward I.. In the list of Shropshire contributors to the fund collected at the time of the expected Spanish invasion in 1588, occur the names of Jerom Corbett (£30), Edward Corbett of Longmore (£25), and Alice Corbett of Stoke, widow (£50), (Sp.). Since the reign of Henry V., the Corbetts or Corbets have at various times filled the office of bailiff or mayor of Shrewsbury, one of the mayors of last century being Sir Richard Corbett, baronet. After the lapse of many centuries the name is still confined to counties adjacent to that of its early home, namely, to Herefordshire, Worcestershire, Gloucestershire, and Warwickshire”.
Early Bearers of the Surname
The earliest known bearer of this surname was Hugh Corbet in Shropshire, England in 1086 AD. The Hundred Rolls of 1273 AD, a census of Wales and England, known in Latin as Rotuli Hundredorum lists four bearers of this surname: Peter Corbet (Devonshire), Alianor Corbet (Buckinghamshire), and Felicia Corbet (Huntingdonshire). The Placita de Quo Warrnto documents one Nicholas Corbet in county Northampton in 1292 AD. The Testa de Veville, sive Liber Feodorum lists one Richard Corbit in county Warwick during the era of Henry III-Edward I. Early marriages involving this surname include 1) Marie Corbite to Francis Quicke at St. Dionis Backchurch in London in 1581 AD and 2) Anne Corbett to Richard Lee at St. Michael, Cornhill in 1599 AD.
History, Genealogy, and Ancestry
The famous genealogist Bernard Burke’s book “The Landed Gentry” discusses five branches of this family
Corbet of Adderley Hall
Henry Reginald Corbet was an Esquire of Adderley Hall, county Salop, who was Justice of the Peace for Salop, Chester, and Stafford who was born in 1832. In 1855, he married Anna Mary Elizabeth, the eldest daughter of Sir Philip de Malpas Grey-Egerton, and had three children with her: Reginald (4th Royal Lancashire Militia), Randulph John, and Betram Davenant. His was the nephew of Sir Andrew Vincent Corbet, 2nd Baronet, and son of Richard, Esq. of Adderley Hall.
Corbet of Sundorne
Reverend John Dryden Corbet of Sundorne Castle in county Salop who was Rector of Edgmond who was born in 1808. He was the son of Reverend John Dryden Pigott and Frances Bevan and he succeeded the Sundorne estate upon the death of Annabella, Lady Brinckman, in 1864, and assumed the surname Corbet the following year. This branch of the Corbet family tree was of the great Norman family whose progenitor was Robert Corbet, the companion of William the Conqueror. William Corbet was he eldest son of Roger, seated at Wattlesborough. He in turn had a son named Sir Robert Corbet, a Knight, who inherited the estates and castle of Caus, and much of his father’s lands. In turn, he had a son named Robert Corbet, also of Caus Castle, who fought with King Richard I of England at the siege of Acre, and bore a coat of arms with two ravens, borne by his descendants. From this Robert descended the Corbets of Legh-juxia-Caus, one of the prominent families in Shropshire, England for many generations. In the 1700s, they were represented by Andrew Corbet, Esquire of Leigh and Adbright Hussey, who succeeded in 1740, Corbet Kynaston, Esquire of Sundorne and other broad estates in the county. He died in 1741 and was succeeded by his brother John Corbet, Esq. of Sundorne, Adbright Husset, and other place. He married Frances, daughter of Robert Pigott of Chetwynd and later Barbara Letitia, daughter of John Mytton of Chetwynd. He had two sons: John and Andrew (a Lieutenant-Colonel who had a daughter named Mary Elizabeth, who married Sir John Kynaston Powell). His son and heir John was a Member of Parliament for Shrewsbury and was also High Sheriff in 1793. He first married Emma Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Charlton Leighton, Baronet, and had two issue with her: John (died at age 15) and Emma (married Sir Richard Puleston, Baronet). His second wife was Anne, daughter of Reverend William Pigott, of Edgmond, Salp, and had issue with her named Andrew William: his heir, Dryden Robert, Vincent, Kynaston, and Annabella. He died in 1817 and was succeeded by his son Andrew William Corbet, born in 1801, who was married in 1823 married Mary Emma. He died in 1856 and was succeeded by his brother: Dryden Robert Corbet, Esquire of Sundorne, who was Justice of the Peace who was born in 1805. The Corbet Coat of Arms (erroneously called the Corbet Family Crest) was blazoned as follows: Quarterly, 1st and 4th, Corbet, or, two ravens in pale proper, a border engrailed gules, and for the distinction a cross crosslet also gules; 2nd and 3rd, Pigott, ermine, three fusils conjoined in fess sable. Crest: An elephant and castle proper.
Corbet of Ynysymaengwyn
Athelstan John Soden-Corbet was an Esquire of Ynysymaengwyn in county Merioneth, who was Justice of the Peace, and High Sheriff in 1875. He was born in 1850 and succeeded his father in 1871. Burke traces the Corbett genealogy back to Robert Corbet, Esquire, second son of Sir Vincent Corbet and Frances Humfreston. He married Bridget, daughter and heir of Sir James Pryse. His grandson was Vincent Corbet of Ynysymaengwyn who had numerous isse, the eldest of whom was Ann Corbet, who was born in 1684 and married Athelstan Owen, Esq. She had a daughter also named Ann, who married Pryse Maurice of Lloran and had several issue with her. The Corbet Coat of Arms (erroneously called the Corbet Family Crest) was blazoned in heraldry as follows: Or, a raven proper, quartering Soden.
Corbett of Elsham
Thomas George Corbett was Esquire of Elsham in county Lincoln in and Justice of the Peace, Deputy Lieutenant, and a Member of Parliament who was born in 1796 and succeeded his father in 1832. In 1836, he married Lady Mary Noel Beauclerk, daughter of William, the Duke of St. Albans, and they had two children together: Sybil and Eleanor Blanche Mary (married Sir John Dugdale Astley, Baronet of Everley and had numerous issue with him). Burke traces the Corbett genealogy and family tree of this branch back to William Corbett, Secretary of the Admirality, son of Thomas Corbet of Nash), who married Eleanor, daughter and co-heir of Colonel John Jones of Nanteous, and had three sons with her. A one Thomas Corbett was Esquire of Darnhall in county Chester, grandson of William, married Elizabeth, daughter and heir of Humphrey Edwin of St. Albans, and had issue with her: William, Edwin (married Anna Blackburne), Sybil Anna Katherine (married Thomas John Wynn), Alice Mary, and Beatrice Alexandria. The Corbett Coat of Arms (mistakenly called the Corbett Family Crest) is blazoned as follows in the medieval art of heraldry: Or, a raven proper. Crest: An elephant and castle proper.
Corbett of Longnor
Edward Corbett was an Esquire of Longnor Hall in county Salop who was Justice of the Peace, Deputy Lieutenant, Lieutenant-Colonel Shropshire Militia, and Member of Parliament for the Southern Division of county Salop. He was born in 1817 and in 1842, married Elizabeth Anne Terea, daughter of Robert Sholl, and had thirteen issue with her: Edward (Justice of the Peace, married Louisa Mary Isham), Richard (1844), Waties (1852), Francis (1854), Joseph (1862), Teresa, Lucy, Maud, Elizabeth, Mildred, Annie, Helen, and Louisa. Burke traces the Corbett ancestry and Corbett family tree back to Sir Edward Corbett of Longnor and Leighton, a Knight who was created a Baronet in 1642. The senior branch of this lineage expired in 1774 with Sir Richard Corbett, Baronet, whereupon the title devolved to Charles Corbett of London, great-grandson of Thomas, baronet, but the estates were devised by Sir Richard Corbett, 1774, to his kinsman, Robert Flint, the great-grandson of the maternally of Waties Corbet. Upon his death, it descended to his nephew, Reverend Joseph Plumley, Archdeacon of Salop, son and heir of Joseph. Joseph assumed the arms and name of Corbett in 1804. He married twice and his eldest son was Panton Corbett, Esquire of Longnor Hall and Leighton, who was a Member of Parliament for Shrewsbury, who in 1814, married Lucy Favoretta, daughter of Dr. Jones of Lichfeild, and had three issue with her: Richard, Edward (discussed at the beginning of this paragraph), and Favoretta (married John James Edward Hamilton in 1842). The Corbett Coat of Arms (mistakenly called the Corbett Family Crest) is blazoned as follows in the heraldry (popular in the Middle Ages): Or, two ravens in pale proper within a bordure engrailed sable bezantee.
Sir Gerald Vincent Corbet, 6th Baronet, of Moreton Cornet, county Salop, was born in 1868. He succeeded his nephew in 1915. In 1904, he married Ella Theresa Florence, daughter of Colonel James Henry Prendergast. Burke states this family descends in the male line from the family that came from Normady and from Hugh Corbet or Corbeau) who lived around 1040 AD. Hugh had four sons: Hugh (successor to the lands in Normandy and progenitor of the family thereof), Roger, Robert (went to England with with father during the Norman Incasion, and received estates in Shropshire and other counties), Reginald (accompanied Hugh, Count de Saint Paul, to the Holy Land in 1096, and was ancestor of the Corbets of Artois and of Flanders in Chatelains de Saint Paul). His son Robert Fitz-Corbet held 24 Lordships and had a son named William de Corbet of Caus Castle and Wattlesborough, Salop. William had two sons: Thomas and Sir Robert (ancestor of Peter Corbet of Caus Castle, who was summoned to Parliament as a Baron). His son Thomas was the grandfather of Sir Richard. Sir Richard Corbet settled at Moreton and his descendants still live there. Twelfth in descent from Richard was Sir Vincent Corbet, Knight of Moreton Court, who lived in 1606 and married Frances, daughter of Willaim Humfreston. He had two wons: Andrew and Robert (the latter being the ancestor of the Corbets of Ynysymaengwyn. His son Sir Andrew was a Knight of Moreton Corbet who was born in 1580. He married Elizabeth, daughter of William Boothy, and had two sons with her: Sir Vincent (1st Baronet) and Richard. The latter son Richard Corbet was Shawsbury Park survived his great-nephew, Sir Vincent Corbet, 3rd Baronet, and inherited the family estates, and became of Moreton Corbet. He married Grace, daughter of Sir William Noel, of Kirkby Mallory in county Leicester, and was succeeded by his son when he died in 1690. His son was Captain Richard Corbet, of Moreton Corbet, Justice of the Peace and Deputy Lietenant who married Judith, daughter of Sir John Bridgeman, Baronet, of Castle Bromwich, and was succeeded by his son Andrew. Andrew Corbet od Moreton Court married Frances, daughter of Captain Prynce, of Abcott, Salop, and had two sons: Andrew and Richard. His son Richard Prynce Corbet was of High Hatton, a Deputy Lieutenant who was born in 1735. He married Mary, daughter and heiress of John Wicksteed, and had two issue with her: Andrew (1st Baronet) and Mary (married Moreton Aglionby Slaney of Shifnal). His son Sir Andrew Corbet was of Moreton Corbet and was High Sheriff of Salop in 1798 who was born in 1766 and succeeded his uncle Andrew, and was created a Baronet on October, 3, 1808. He married Mary, daughter of Thomas Taylor of Lymme Hall in 1790, and had the following issue with her: Sir Andrew Vincent (2nd Baronet), Richard (of Adderley Hall, married Eleanor Johnson) and others.
Early American and New World Settlers
The book Genealogical Guide to the Early Settlers, mentions three bearers of this last name:
1) Abraham of Portsmouth, disaffected to Massachusetts in 1665, when the royal commissioners came to New England, occasioned much trouble
2) Clement Corbett of Boston, who in March of 1655, married Dorcas, daughter of Thomas Buckmaster
3) Robert Corbett of Weymouth, a veteran of Philip’s War, 1675 and 1676 in the service on Connecticut River.
William Corbett came to the New World aboard the Katherine in 1679.
Mary, daughter of Benjamin Corbett, was baptized in August 1679 in the parish of St. John’s, Barbados. Roger Corbitt and his wife, owning 9 slaves, were registered in the Towne of St. Michael’s Barbados.
Early settlers in colonial America bearing this name Robert Corbett (Virginia 1635), Robert Corbett (Virginia 1655), Henry Corbett (Maryland 1656), Mary Corbett (Virginia 1658), John Corbett (Maryland 1665), and Edward Corbett (South Carolina 1774). In Canada, one of the earliest bearers was Thomas Corbett who came to Nova Scotia in 1749. In Australia, two of the earliest settlers were Thady and John Corbett who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick aboard the Trafalgar in 1834. In New Zealand, one of the earliest settlers bearing this last name was William Corbett who landed in the city of Wellington in 1840.
Early Americans Bearing the Corbett Family Crest
I researched the following three resources and did not find any coats of arms for Corbett: Bolton’s American Armory, Matthew’s American Armoury and Bluebook, and Crozier’s General Armory.
We have identified five Corbett family mottoes:
1) Virtutis laus action (The praise of virtue is action)
2) Dum spiro spero (While I breathe, I hope)
3) Deus pascit corvos (God Feeds the ravens)
4) Domini factum est (It is the Lord’s doing)
5) Save me, Lord (Corbet of Towcross)
We have 30 coats of arms for the Corbett surname depicted here. These 30 blazons are from Bernard Burke’s book The General Armory of England, Ireland, and Scotland, which was published in 1848. The bottom of this page contains the blazons, and in many instances contains some historical, geographical, and genealogical about where coat of arms was found and who bore it. People with this last name that bore a Corbett Coat of Arms include:
1) Sarah Corbett, Viscount, supporters 1 June 1680, by Dugdale
There are hundreds of notable people with the Corbett surname. This page will mention a handful. Famous people with this last name include: 1) Henry Winslow Corbett (1827-1903) who was a Senator from Oregon after the Civil War, a Republican who was a native of Massachusetts, 2) Alfred Hoy Corbett (1915-2000) who was an American attorney, businessman, and politician educated at both Hardvard and Yale who came a member of the Oregon House of Representatives and then Senate, 3) Major Moses Corbet (1728-1814) who was a British Army officer who became the Lieutenant Governor of Jersey from 1771 to 1781, 4) Ron Corbett (1960) who was the mayor of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, a Republican born in Erie, Pennsylvania, 5) Thomas Wingett Corbett Jr. (1949) who is an attorney born in Philadelphia who became the 46th Governor of Pennsylvania in 2011, 6) Robert Alfred Corbett (1938) who was a member of the Canadian House of Commons from 1978 to 1993, a Progressive Conservative from Saint John, New Brunswick, 7) Douglas Mitchell Corbett (1952) who was a pitcher in the MLB born in Sarasota, Florida who played for three different teams: the Minnesota Twins, Baltimore Orioles, and California Angles, 8) Roger Campbell Corbett (1942) who is an Australian businessman who was the CEO of Woolworths Limited, a retailing conglomerate, from 1999-2006 who is a director of Wal-Mart and the Reserve Bank of Australia, 9) Harry H. Corbett (1925-1982) who was an English actor best known for his role on the BBC sitcom Steptoe and Son, and 10) Thomas P. “Boston” Corbett (1832-1894) who was a Union Army soldier who was born in London, UK and was credited with killing John Wilkes Booth, the assassin of President Abraham Lincoln.