This interesting surname is a variant of Routledge, which is chiefly found on the English/Scottish borders, and is believed to be of topographical origin from residence by a border stream, named with the Northern Middle English (1200 - 1500) 'rout', itself coming from the Scandinavian 'ruta', meaning a roar or loud noise, and the Middle English 'lache' or 'leche', a stream. There is a place in Cumbria called Routledge Burn, but surname derivation from this spot is unlikely as the place was not recorded until the 16th Century, and the surname first appears on record in Scotland towards the end of the 15th Century. The surname development since 1494 (see below) includes: David Routlesche (1512, Scotland), Jorge Rugliche (1524, Suffolk), Elizabeth Rutley (1559, London) and John Rugledge (1606, Yorkshire). The modern surname can be found as R(o)utledge, Rudledge, Rucklidge, Rookledge, Ritlidge, Rutley and Ruthl(e)y. Among the recordings in Yorkshire is the marriage of Thomas Rutley and Isabell Jackson on November 3rd at Aberford. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Symon Routlage, which was dated 1494, Acts of the Council of Lords, Scotland, 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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