This rare surname, with spellings Rutledge, Rudledge, Rookledge, Routledge, Rucklesse, and Rucklidge, is chiefly found on the English\Scottish borders, and is believed to be of topographical origin from residence by a border stream. However this is not proven, and the best guestimate is that the name originates from the Scandinavian-Viking word 'ruta' meaning a roar of loud noise, plus the English 'lache' or 'leche', meaning a stream. There is a place in Cumbria called Routledge Burn, but surname derivation from this spot is unlikely as the place itself was not recorded until the 16th Century, whilst the surname first appears on record in Scotland towards the end of the 15th Century, (see below).Exampples of early recordings include David Routlesche, the bailie to James Douglas of Caver in 1512, and William of Retleche or Routleth recorded in the 'Placenames of Cumbria' circa 1520. In 1537 Martin de Rotheluche, a Scot, was procurator of the Scottish Nation in the University of Orleans, France, and in the city of London Agnes Rucklese or Rucklesse was married at St Dunstans Stepney, on August 11th 1595, and Elizabeth Ratledge was christened on March 21st 1640, at St. Giles Cripplegate. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Symon Routlage, charged with the spoil of certain goods, which was dated 1494 - in the 'Acta Dominorum Concilia', (1478 - 1495), during the reign of King James 1V of Scotland, 1488 - 1513. 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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