This unusual and interesting English surname derives ultimately from the Old Scandanavian and Germanic pre 5th century personal name "Hrodwulf". This was composed of the elements "hrod", meaning "renown", and "wulf",a wolf. In Norse the contracted form was "Hrolfr", in Danish and Swedish "Rolf", and it is said that these personal names reached England first through their popularity with Scandinavian settlers before the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Normans thereafter introduced their own form of the name, generally found as "Rou" or "Roul" and often Latinized as "Rollo". There are more than twenty variants of the modern surname, including Rolf, Rolfe, Rolph and Roalfe to Rofe, Roof, Rulf and Rule. The Indian princess Pocahontas, who pleaded successfully with her father for the life of the English Explorer John Smith in Virginia, later married the English colonist John Rolfe (1582 - 1622). The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert Rolf. This was dated 1272, in the rolls known as the "Customary Laws" of Battle Abbey, in the county of Sussex, during the reign of King Edward 1st of England, 1272 - 1307. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes 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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