R is for …

Continuing my exploration of surname origins in Andrew’s Kindred.

Based on: Reaney, P H, (ed. Wilson, R M), 1997, Oxford Dictionary of English Surnames, 3rd ed., OUP, Oxford, unless otherwise stated.


Earliest in Andrew’s Kindred:  William Rathbone, born about 1793, Coventry, Warwickshire.

Irish (Rathbane, white fort) and Welsh (Rathbon, stumpy clearing or plain) definitions are put forward, but “No satisfactory suggestion can be offered.”

Ancestry suggests from Radbourn, Warwickshire or Derbyshire, from Old English  hreod ‘reeds’ (a collective singular) + burna ‘stream’, but I remain to be convinced.

Richards / Richardson

Earliest in Andrew’s Kindred: John Richards, born about 1822, Essington, Staffordshire.

Richard, or variants, was one of the most popular names introduced by the Norman Conquest.  From Central French and Old German, powerful brave.  If from the German Reichhardt it would be ruler + powerful.

I always thought the “s” ending denoted “son of”, which seems to hold true for Wales.


Earliest in Andrew’s Kindred: Frances Roberts, born about 1791, Woolwich, Kent.

Introduced by Normans in the reign of Edward the Confessor, and very popular.  Diminutives include Robin (below).  Old French Rodbert and Old German Rod(b)ert, frame + bright.

Again, the “s” for “son of”.


Earliest in Andrew’s Kindred: Robert (7th great grandfather), father of Robert Robinson, baptised 12 June 1692, Whitwick, Leicestershire.

Son of Robin, itself a diminutive of Robert.


Earliest in Andrew’s Kindred: Elizabeth Rose, born about 1776, Wolston, Warwickshire.

Something more complex is put forward as one origin, but Robert de la Rose, from the sign of the rose, seems most likely.  So, from the sign of the rose, which appears in many motifs

Tudor Rose. Wikimedia, public domain.




Earliest in Andrew’s Kindred: Charles Henry Ross, father of Beatrice Elizabeth Ross, born 30 November 1894, baptised 5 January 1895, Burntwood, Staffordshire.

Probably from Ross, Herefordshire or Northumberland [or north east Scotland?].

This is a proper mystery!  When married at Burntwood, Staffordshire, in 1894, Charles was 22 and a soldier.  From birth of last child in mid-1900 and his widow in the 1901 census, there is a short window for his death, but I can find no record, and there is nothing in the newspaper archive to which I have access.  Perhaps he was mixed up in the Second Boer War?  I know from the marriage that his father was Charles Joseph Ross, shoemaker, but cannot find any records that appear relevant.


Earliest in Andrew’s Kindred: Ann Rushton, born about 1799, Derbyshire.

From Rushton, Cheshire, Northamptonshire or Staffordshire.


Earliest in Andrew’s Kindred: John Russell, born about 1836, Knowle, Warwickshire.

From Old French rouse-el, a diminutive of rous, red.


Earliest in Andrew’s Kindred: Ann Rutter, born about, 1807, Measham, Derbyshire.

Old French roteur, player of the rote, a kind of stringed instrument or from routier, highwayman or ruffian.





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