Recorded as Rawler, Rowler, Roller, Rollier, Rouller, Roullier, the patronymics Rowlerson and Rolinson, and no doubt others, this is an unusual surname. It is almost certainly of French in origin, of which it probably has two. According to the famous Victorian etymologist Canon Charles Bardsley writing in about the year1880, it is a form of Ralf or Ralphe, a personal name introduced into the British Isles after the Conquest of England by the Norman French in 1066. Our research suggests that whilst this origin may be true of some name holders in that Ra or Raw was in medieval times used as a short or nickname from Ralf, more likely it is occupational. This is born out by the "Dictionnaire etymologique de noms de France" which says that the name is from "roulier," literally one who makes rollers, but by transposition a voiturier, or a maker of carts or carriages. Confirmation is also given by a recording on November 26th 1693 of Isaac Roulier, whose son Pierre was christened at the Fernch Huguenot church, Threadneedle Street, in the city of London. He would have been a refugee escaping from the persecution of the Protestants by the Roman Catholics. It is unclear when the name was first recorded but other recordings in the city of London registers include Frederick Rawler at the church of St Martin-Vintry on May 19th 1642, and John Rowler at St Dunstans in the East, on October 30th 1651.
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