Recorded as Rillston, Rilston, Rillstone, Rylston, Rylstone and probably others, this is an English surname. It is locational from a village which is today recorded as both Rylstone and Rilston, and near to the town of Skipton, in the Yorkshire Dales. The place name and hence the later surname, would seem to have developed from the pre 7th century Olde English 'hreod-tun' meaning the reed farm. Reed was one of the most important components of ancient households, being used for roofing, as well as bedding and floor covering. Other explanations for the place name are possible, including the farm on the river, or even Hepples farm. What is certain is that the place name is recorded several times in the famous Domesday Book of 1086 as Rilestune and Rilistune, and as Rillestune in the Pipe Rolls of Yorkshire in 1166. The surname being locational is a 'from' name. That is to say a name given to people after they had left their original home to settle somewhere else. Spelling over the centuries being at best indifferent, and local dialects very thick, soon lead to the development of 'sounds like' spellings. In this case the earliest example in the surviving church registers is believed to be that of Parnell Rilstone. He was the son of Thomas Rilstone also variously recorded as Rillstone, and was christened at the church of St. Stephen Walbrooke, in the city of London, on November 5th 1598.
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