This interesting name is Scottish in origin, and is a locational surname from the lands of Rutherford in the parish of Maxton, Roxburghshire, in the Scottish Borders. The placename means 'the cattle ford', derived from the Old English pre 7th Century 'hryther', oxen, cattle, with 'ford', ford. There is another place with the same name and derivation in North Yorkshire, but this place does not seem to have been the source of the modern surname, which is mostly found in the borders and Lowlands of Scotland.There are a number of variant forms of the modern name ranging from Rutherfo(o)rd, Rutterford, and Rudeforth, to Rotherforth and Rudditforth. Daniel Rutherford (1749 - 1819), the scientist who discovered nitrogen, was born in Edinburgh. One Andrew Rudeforth was christened at St. Andrew's, Holborn, London, on the 6th September 1635. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William de Rwthirford, charter witness, which was dated circa 1200, Ancient Charters of the Earldom of Morton, during the reign of King William of Scotland, 'The Lion', 1165 - 1214. 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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