This interesting surname, chiefly found in Yorkshire and Lancashire, is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and may be either a topographical name for someone who lived by a clearing in woodland, from the Olde English pre 7th Century "rod", clearing, or a locational name from any of the places named with this word. These places include: Rhodes near Middleton in Lancashire; Rhodes (Hill), north of Ashton-under-Lyme; Rhodes (Bank) near Oldham; and Rhodes (Green), north of Wakefield in the West Riding of Yorkshire. Topographical features, whether natural or man-made, provided obvious and convenient means of identification in the small communities of the Middle Ages, and consequently gave rise to several surnames. Locational names were developed when former inhabitants of a place moved to another area, usually to seek work, and were best identified by the name of their birthplace. Early examples of the surname include: Alexander de la rode (Norfolk, 1277); John atte Rode (Bedfordshire, 1294); and Robert del Rodes (Lancashire, 1332). Cecil John Rhodes (1853 - 1902) was a British colonial financier and statesman in South Africa. As Prime Minister of the Cape Colony (1890 - 1896), he helped to extend British territory. A Coat of Arms granted to the family is a silver shield, a red lion passant quardant between two acorns in bend azure cotised ermines, a trefoil for difference. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Hugh de Rodes, which was dated 1219, witness in the "Assize Court Rolls of Yorkshire", during the reign of King Henry 111, known as "The Frenchman", 1216 - 1272. 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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