The little village of Rathmell from where this surname originates, is in the county of West Yorkshire, England. It is recorded in several spelling forms including Rathmell itself, Raithmill, Raithmell, Rauthmell and Rathmill, although all these latter spellings are either very rare or extinct. The name means "the red bank" from the Olde English pre 7th century words "raud-mealr". The surname is a locational name. That is to say that it was a name which was usually given to a person after he, or sometimes she, left their original homestead and moved elsewhere. One of the easiest ways to identify a stranger being to call that person by the name of the place from whence they came. Spelling being at best erratic and local accents very thick, lead to the development of "sounds like" spellings. In this case the surname from the early 17th century is well recorded in the village of Linton in Craven, some way from Rathmell. Early examples of the recordings include: John Rawthmell who married Ann Inman at Burnsall in Wharfedale, on June 23rd 1577, and coincidentally in the same year Margaret Rathmell, who married Marmaducus Daker at Farnham near Knaresborough, on November 9th. Robert Rathmell was a witness at Linton in Craven on January 11th 1607, and he may have been the first of the name in the area.
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