This is a surname of Scottish origins, although today almost all name holders are found in Ireland. The name (as Ruske or Rusk) originates only from the village of Strathearn in Perthshire, Scotland. In Ireland it is found in all the nine counties of the province of Ulster and particularly in County Antrim, and occasionally in several other counties as well. Never common, the surname is a derivation from the more usual surname 'Risk or Riesk', anglicised spellings of the Gaelic 'riasg' meaning an area of moorland covered with sedge grass. As a surname it is topographical and describes one who lived at such a place. This is a rarity in itself, less than a dozen Gaelic surnames are topographical, almost all are patronymic or descriptive. It would seem that the original 'Rusk(e)' nameholders were granted lands in Ireland in support of the 'plantations' policy of Oliver Cromwell after 1651 or by King William 111 after 1690. The surname as shown below, being first recorded in Ireland at exactly this time when Margarett Rusk married John Mac Knitt at Burt, Donegal, on December 8th 1691. Other examples include on November 25th 1774, Robert Dixon Rusk who was christened at Carmoney, County Antrim, and on August 19th 1866, John William Ruske who was christened at Brookeborough, County Fermanagh. Other recordings include William Rush of Perth, 'Rush' being another variant, on January 20th 1656, whilst on February 2nd 1818, John Rusk married Margaret Cock at Perth, Scotland. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Reisk, which was dated 1552, a witness at the Crown Court of Glasgow, during the reign of Mary, Queen of Scots, reigned 1542 - 1567. 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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