This well known Northern surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is either a topographical name from residence in an overgrown valley, deriving from the Olde English pre 7th Century "ruh", rough, overgrown, with "bothm", valley, or a locational name from some minor, unrecorded, or now "lost" place believed to have been in the Nottinghamshire/Lancashire area because of the high incidence of early surname recordings from that region. Topographical surnames were among the earliest created, since both natural and man-made features in the landscape provided easily recognisable distinguishing names in the small communities of the Middle Ages, and locational names were originally given to local landowners, the lord of the manor, and especially as a means of identification to those who left their birthplace to settle elsewhere. On November 10th 1549, Thomas Robotham and Ellen Tomlinson were married at Stutton by East Retford, Nottinghamshire, and on August 6th 1555, Elizabeth, daughter of James Rowbotham, was christened at Christ Church Greyfriars, Newgate, London. A notable bearer of the name was Thomas Charles Leeson Rowbotham, member of the New Society of Painters in Watercolours, 1851, and professor of drawing at the Royal Naval School. A Coat of Arms granted to the family in 1560 is a shield divided per fess embattled silver and black, with three roebucks counterchanged. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Dorythye Robottom, which was dated October 23rd 1546, marriage to Robert Rowe, at St. Michael's, Cornhill, London, during the reign of King Henry V111, known as "Bluff King Hal", 1509 - 1547. 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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