Recorded in the spellings of Rawson, Rawsen and Rowson, this is a surname of early medieval English origins. It is very good illustration of just how far spelling and pronunciation has moved since those early times. Developed from the Norse-Viking pre 10th century 'Radulfr', which is itself the source of the French 'Raoul' and the Norman 'Radulf', these were often 'amalgamated' at least in the British Isles, after the 1066 Norman Invasion, to form the personal names 'Rafe or Ralph'. These in turn created patronymics based around the original personal, and later surnames. The famous Domesday Book of 1086, produced by order of William 1st, known historically, if incorrectly, as 'The Conqueror', has several entries as Rauf, Rauphe, and Radulf, whilst the abbey of Bury St Edmunds, lists in its rolls Raulfus Clericus, (Raulf, the clerk), in the year 1095. The early recordings of the surname above, include Richard Rawson, Johannes Raweson, and William Raufson, in the Yorkshire Poll tax rolls of 1379, in the reign of the unfortunate Richard 11 (1377 - 1399). Edmonde Rawson was recorded at St Michaels Cornhill, London, in 1570, and Reginald Rowson of Lymm, in Cheshire, is recorded in the Wills Register of Chester in 1611. The oldest coat of arms was granted in Yorkshire in 1588, and this has the blazon of per fess sable and azure, a castle with four towers in silver. The crest is a black ravens head carrying in its beak a red annulet. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Thomas Roulfisson, which was dated 1327, in the Subsidy Rolls of the county of Cambridge, during the reign of King Edward 111, known as 'The father of the English navy', 1327 - 1377. 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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