This very interesting and ancient surname can be either English or Welsh. It is a patronymic of Rowland, and has two possible origins. The first is from the Norman-French personal name "Rollant". Composed of the pre 7th century Germanic elements "hrod", meaning renown and "land", describing land or territory. Introduced into the British Isles after the Conquest of 1066, it was highly popular throughout Europe in the Middle Ages mainly as a result of the fame of one of Emperor Charlemagne's knight commanders who bore the name. The second source is locational from places called Rowland in the counties of Derbyshire and Sussex. In these cases the derivation is from the Old Norse word "ra", meaning the deer or roebuck, and "lundr", a wood. Locational surnames were usually developed when former inhabitants of a place moved to another area, usually to seek work, and were best identified by the name of their birthplace. The modern surname can be found as Rowland, Rolland, Roland, Rolance, Rowlands and Rollons. Recordings taken from early church registers in the diocese of Greater London include the marriage of Edward Rowlands and Catherine Wood, on March 9th 1799, at the famous church of St. Mary-le-Bone, and the marriage of Christopher Rowlands and Ann Beater on March 20th 1809, at St. Anne's Soho, Westminster. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Simon Rolland. This was dated 1218, when he was a witness at the Assize Court of Lincolnshire, during the reign of King Henry 111rd of England, 1216 - 1272. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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