This interesting surname is of early medieval English origin. It is a patronymic from the name Roul, popular in early medieval documents. "Roul" is the usual Norman form of "Rolf", from "hrod", meaning renown, and "wulf", a wolf. The personal name reached England in two ways. Firstly, through its use among pre- Norman Conquest Viking invaders, and secondly, through its popularity amongst the Normans themselves. Modern spellings of the surname include: Rollingson, Rollison, Rolinson, Rowlson, Rowlison, Rowlerson and Rowlandson and others. It is very well recorded in the north of England, especially in Yorkshire and Lancashire. These recordings in Yorkshire Church registers include the christenings of Beingeman Rowlinson, the son of Thomas Rowlinson, on July 16th 1654, and of Josuhaye, son of Joseph Rowlinson on October 24th 1672, both at Guiseley, whilst Richard Rowlson, was christened on September 20th 1681 at Holy Trinity, Wibsey. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Rollynson, which was dated 1449, in the register of the manor of Halifax, Yorkshire. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as the 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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