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About the study
My connection to 'Dobbins' and variants is on my maternal side, through an old American line that appears to have emigrated from Worcestershire to the Virginia Colony around the 1670s (my paternal line came to Virginia perhaps a few decades earlier).
Despite my American perspective, the focus of the Dobbins One-Name Study will be on British (and possibly Irish) records, at least initially, in an effort to untangle genealogical lines and trace them back as close as possible to their ultimate roots.
Hanks and Hodges list 'Dobbins' as one of a plethora of variations on the theme of 'Dobb,' an old nickname for Robert, under the single heading of which they list all of their variants. Reaney and Wilson, perhaps somewhat arbitrarily, carve 'Dobb' into various orthographic/morphemic strains, one of which might be roughly summarized by the orthographic scheme D+O+B+(B)+|I, Y|+N+(G)+(S). I've adopted a subset of the ground covered by this scheme, essentially by excluding variants that include the letter 'G' as well as variants where it appears the 'O' is (or would be) pronounced as a long vowel ('oe') rather than a short one ('ah') -- I suspect at the outset that variants with a long 'O' may derive from French or Norman sources via 'D'Aubin,' though this may be proven wrong.
This leaves the following list (in alphabetical order): Dobbin, Dobbins, Dobbyn, Dobbyns, Dobyns.
'Dobyn' is a very rare spelling listed by the World Names Profiler which is apparently restricted to the American state of Alabama. This is probably a variant or deviant of the much more common 'Dobyns,' and it may have to be added to the above list once it's been confirmed as a true variant.
Based on estimates developed from World Names Profiler data, the following numbers represent 'ballpark' estimates for the numbers of worldwide nameholders of 'Dobbins' and variants (precision has been retained from the estimate calculations and is bound to be exaggerated):
Dobbins - 21,043; Dobbin - 7,499; Dobyns - 1,844; Dobbyn - 1,435; Dobbyns - 23; Dobyn - 3
Distribution of the name
Worldwide distribution centers significantly on the United Kingdom and its former colonial possessions, with small numbers in mainland Europe. The United States contributes the lion's share in terms of absolute numbers for each variant, with the exceptions of 'Dobbin' (Canada contributes the most) and the rare variant 'Dobbyns' (Ireland contributes the most).
Within the United Kingdom, 'Dobbins' appears centered on Gloucestershire in the 1881 census; 'Dobbin' centers on North Yorkshire and in Scotland around Lanarkshire and Argyll; 'Dobbyn' centers on West Yorkshire; 'Dobyns' and 'Dobyn' appear to be almost exclusively American orthographic inventions; 'Dobbyns' appears to be mostly Irish.