Recorded in several spellings as shown below, this is an English surname. It has two possible origins. Firstly it may be a byname applied to a cheerful person. If so then the origin is the Old English pre 7th century word "rot" meaning glad. Secondly it may be a metonymic occupational name for a musician, one who played the "rote", a medieval stringed instrument. The word "rote" is itself cognate with the Welsh "crwth", and describes a form of harp. The surname is one of the very earliest recorded, although it is arguable as to whether the original holder or holders would have recognized it as such. In ancient times occupational surnames only became heriditary, when a son followed the father into the same occupation. The importance of this surname was very early with Walter Rote appearing in the register of the Knight Templars, the famous crusaders, for the county of Lincolnshire in 1185. Modern spellings of the surname are known to include Root, Roote, Rutt, and the patronymics Rootes and Roots. Early examples of the name recording include James Rutt of the county of Suffolk in 1524 when he appears in the Hearth Tax rolls, Edward, the son of Isaac and Mary Root, who was christened on March 18th 1621 at All Hallows's church, London Wall, city of London, whilst John Root was one of the earliest settlers in the colony of Virginia, New England. He appears in the earliest "muster" of the colony as living on Hog Island, on February 4th 1624. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Aethelstan Rota, which was dated 955, in the "Old English Records", during the reign of King Ethelred 11, known as "The Unready", 978 - 1016.
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