This interesting surname, of English origin with variant spellings Ravenscroft, Ravenscroftt, and Ravenscraft, is a locational name from Ravenscroft in Cheshire, deriving from the genitive case of the Olde English pre 7th Century byname "Hroefn" meaning "raven", plus "croft" meaning "paddock, small-holding", hence "Hraefn's croft". The placename is recorded as Ravenescroft in the "Catalogue of Ancient Deeds". The surname dates back to the mid 16th Century (see below). Further recordings include one Robertt Ravenscroft, who married Jone Mylles on May 24th 1569, at St. Lawrence Jewry and St. Mary Magdalene, Milk Street, London. One Richard Ravenscrofte of Occleston is recorded in the Wills of Chester of 1574, and Ann, daughter of John Ravenscroft, was christened on August 3rd 1582, at St. Lawrence Jewry and St. Mary Magdalene, Milk Street, London. Amongst the namebearers listed in the "Dictionary of National Biography" is one Thomas Ravenscroft (1592 - 1635) who was a musician. He published "Pammelia", the earliest collection of Rounds, Catches and Cannons printed in England (1609). The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Martin Raynscrofte, Cheshire, which was dated 1565, in the "Register of the University of Oxford", during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, known as "Good Queen Bess", 1558 - 1603. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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