This interesting surname is of early medieval Germanic origin, and derives from the male given name Ruoff, itself coming from the Old German "Hrodwulf", a compound of the elements "hrowd", renown, and "wulf", wolf. This name was especially popular among Nordic peoples in the contracted from "Hrolfr", and was widely used by the Normans in the forms Ro(u)lf and Rou(l). It appears as "Roulf" in the Domesday Book of 1086 for Leicestershire, and as "Rof" in the Book of Fees for Devonshire, having been introduced into England at the Norman Invasion of 1066. "Ruf" and "Ruef" (without surname) were recorded in medieval records of Germany, dated 1300, the surname first appearing on record in the early 14th Century (see below). In 1374, Ruef (Rudolf) von Reischach was recorded in Wurtt, and in 1550, the birth of one Jacob Ruoff was registered at Loechqau, Neckarkreis, Wuertt. Surnames derived from given names are the oldest and most pervasive surname type, and in vernacular naming traditions (as distinct from religious), names were originally composed of vocabulary elements of the local language, and no doubt bestowed for their auspicious connotations. A Coat of Arms granted to the Ruoff family is recorded heraldically in Rietstap's "Armorial General", and depicts a red buffalo, ringed gold, on a shield divided per fess gold and azure. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Jakob Rufi, Priester zu Zurich, which was dated 1314, in "Early Medieval Records of Germany", during the reign of Louis 1V of Bavaria, 1314 - 1347. 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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