Recorded as Rait, Raith, Raitt, Rate, Rathe and possibly others, this is a medieval Scottish surname. It derives from the ancient Gaelic word "rath" meaning a small fortress, and hence a man who lived at such a place. As there were many such small forts around Scotland, the surname itself is not from any one localitry, nor were the original nameholders in anyway related. It is said that as Rait it is from Nairn in the far north, as well as Perth in the south of the country, whilst the Raiths are from Fife and Ayreshire. The Rate's trace their ancestry from Sir Gervase de Rathe, given as being the constable of Invernairn in 1292, and who in 1296 as Gervase de Rate rendered homage to John Balliol and the Intereggnum government of Scotland. This group ruled the country for ten years before being ousted by Robert, the Bruce, in 1306. There must have been some "association" between Sir Gervase de Rathe and King Edward 1st of England, because it seems that his lands were stripped from him by the English (?) and given to his brother Andrew. Other early interesting nameholders were John Rait, bishop of Aberdeen in 1355, and Alexander Raith, a burgess of Ayr in 1488.
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