This interesting surname, of Scottish origin with variant spellings Rutherford, Rutherfoord, Rutherforth, Rotherforth, and Ruddiforth, is a locational name from Rutherford in the Scottish Borders near Roxburgh, deriving from the Olde English pre 7th Century "hryther" meaning "cattle", plus "ford", ford. There is another place of the same name and etymology in Northern Yorkshire, but this does not seem to contribute to the surname, which is principally found in the borders and lowlands of Scotland. The surname dates back to the early 13th Century (see below), and further recordings include one Huwe de Ruwerford, who witnessed a charter of Philip de Valoniis (circa 1215), and Nicolas de Rotherford, who witnessed a quitclaim by Malcolm de Constabletun and Alicia, his wife, of a carucate of Edulfistun to the Church of Glasgow in 1260. Recordings from English Church Registers include: the christening of Katherina Rutherfoorde on December 19th 1562, in Howden, Yorkshire; the marriage of Robert Rutherford and Dorathi Bakstae on April 12th 1629, at St. Olave's, Hart Street, London; and the christening of William, son of Richard Rutherford, on August 27th 1697, in Darfield, Yorkshire. One Jane Rutherford, aged 22 yrs., a famine emigrant, sailed from Liverpool aboard the "Cornelia" bound for New York on January 26th 1846. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William de Rwthirford, a cleric, witnessed a charter by Henry de Grahame, which was dated 1200, in "Registrum de Panmure", during the reign of King William "The Lion" of Scotland 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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