Recorded in a number of different spellings including Rawet, Riatt, Ruett, Ruit, Rowat, Rowet, Rowatt and Rowett, this is a much travelled surname. It can be described as Anglo-Scottish, but is possibly of Olde English pre 7th century origins, or a French introduction at the time of the Norman Invasion of 1066. It may derive from a given name such as Rue, a short form of the German Rudolph, or from Rollo, a popular Germanic given name of ancient times, or from Rous, a given name meaning 'red' which is found throughout Europe. As it happens we believe it derives from none of these, but from the pre 7th century Olde English 'Row', itself recorded in the modern popular surnames of Row or Rowe. This name originally described a person who lived in the 'village row', or the main part of the village, but we accept that for some nameholders at least, this may not be correct. The suffix ending is the French diminutive 'petit', used to give the meaning of 'Little Row' or more probably 'Son of Row'. 'Petit' shortened to 'et', was a regular addition to base surnames throughout the middle ages both in England and Scotland, and of course France itself. 'Black's Scottish Surnames' claims the surname to be a form of the French 'Rouat', but does not explain how the first recording came to be the Gaelic 'Makrowat', although this spelling was only fleetingly applied. There is little doubt that for many name holders the place of origin was the south west of Scotland, the old English speaking kingdom of Strathclyde, and it is from this area that most early recordings are to be found. These recordings include:John Rowet, a member of the Scottish Parliament for Glasgow in 1585, Mary Ruit of the town of Lanark on November 8th 1713, and Agnes Rawet, of Springburn, Lanarkshire, on September 20th 1848. In England George Rowet was christened on September 15th 1605 at Coningsby; Lincolnshire. The first recorded spelling of the family name in an acceptable modern form is that of John Makrowat of Wigtown, Scotland, in 1513. This was during the reign of King James V of Scotland who reigned from 1513 to 1542. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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