This interesting name has two possible origins. It may be a byname applied to a cheerful person, from the Old English pre 7th Century "rot" meaning glad. Alternatively it may be a metonymic occupational name for a musician who used the "rote", a medieval stringed instrument. The word "rote" is itself cognate with the Welsh "crwth", a variety of harp. The surname was of very early emergence, as far back as the middle of the 10th Century in Anglo-Saxon England (see below). One Walter Rote is mentioned in Lincolnshire records of the Templars (1185). Among variant forms of the name are Root, Roote, Rootes, and Roots. One early recording in London church registers is for Edward, son of Isaac and Mary Root, who was christened on March 18th 1621 at All Hallows's, London Wall. Another Root was John Root, an English emigrant to Virginia, and a "dweller" on "Hog Island", who was included in a muster of inhabitants on February 4th 1624. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Aethelstan Rota, which was dated 955, in the "Old English Records", during the reign of King Ethelred 11, known as "The Unready", 978 - 1016. 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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