Recorded in a number of spellings including Ratledge, Ratnage, Ratnege, Rookledge, Routledge, Rucklidge, and Rutledge, this is an Anglo-Scottish surname. It is said to be chiefly found in the famous 'Border country', and is believed to be of topographical origin from residence by a stream called the Routledge, named with the Medieval English word 'rout', itself coming from the Scandinavian 'ruta' meaning a roar of loud noise, plus the word 'lache' or 'leche', meaning a stream. There is a place in Cumbria called Routledge Burn, but surname derivation from this spot is unlikely as the place was not recorded until the 16th Century, and the surname first appears on record in Scotland towards the end of the 15th Century, (see below). Early examples of frecordings include David Routlesche who was bailie to James Douglas of Caver in 1512, and William of Retleche or Routleth recorded in the placenames of Cumbria in 1520. In 1537 Martin de Rotheluche, a Scot, was procurator of the Scottish Nation in the University of Orleans and Elizabeth Ratledge was christened on March 21st 1640, at St. Giles, Cripplegate in the city of London, whilst William Ratnege was married at St Pancras Old Church, also in London, on June 12th 1832. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Symon Routlage, charged with the spoil of certain goods, which was dated 1494 - in the 'Acta Dominorum Concilia', (1478 - 1495), during the reign of King James 1V of Scotland, 1488 - 1513. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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