This unusual surname is of early medieval English origin, and is a topographical name from residence by a conspicuous rowan or mountain ash, perhaps one growing in an area where such trees were uncommon. The derivation is from the Middle English "rown", ultimately from the Old Norse "rogn", rowan, with the Middle English "tree", a development of the Olde English pre 7th Century "treow", tree. Topographical surnames were among the earliest created since both natural and man-made features in the landscape provided easily recognizable distinguishing names in the small communities of the Middle Ages. The surname is particularly well recorded in the north of England, especially in Yorkshire, early recordings include William Rowentree and Ralph Roentree, noted in the 14th Century "Depositions from York Castle". In Ireland, the surname appears in the ancient territory of Orghialla, comprising Counties Armagh and Monaghan, as early as 1376, and in the modern idiom is variously spelt: Rountree, Roantree, and Rowantree. On January 5th 1864, a son, Frederick, was born to Michael Roantree and Eliza Sheridan, in Lucan, Co. Dublin. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert Rountre, which was dated 1301, in the "Subsidy Rolls of Yorkshire", during the reign of King Edward 1, known as "the Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. 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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