- This is a topographical name of Olde English origins which derives from "Reade Clif" meaning "The Red Cliff". In the 9th Century the "Reade" was "Vikingised" to the Scandanavian "Ravor", although the meaning is the same, and hence the modern spelling. The surname can also be locational from the hamlets of Rawcliffe in Lancashire and Yorkshire, Roccliffe in Yorkshire and Rowcliffe in Devon, the name development including John de Rouclef in the Rolls of Cumberland for 1332 whilst Henricus de Roucleff was also recorded in the Poll Tax Rolls of 1379 in the reign of Richard II (1378 - 1399). The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Elsi de Routeclia, which was dated 1170, in the "Pipe Rolls of Yorkshire", during the reign of King Henry 11, known as "The Church Builder", 1159 - 1189. 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.
Surnames reference. 2013.