This interesting and uncommon name is of early medieval English derivation from continental origins. It is one of the diminutive forms of the surnames usually found as Roll(e), Rule or Rowe. These all derive from the Norman-French 'Rou' or 'Roul', introduced into England after the Conquest of 1066. It maybe said that the true origin of the name is Germanic from the male personal name 'Rolf', which despite its short appearance is composed of the two elements 'hrod', meaning 'renown' and 'wulf', the wolf. The suffix was originally 'petit' (little) which was foreshortened and anglicized to 'et' and 'at'. The people of the 'dark ages' were very keen on names which glorified heroism, victory, and the warrior in general, and 'Rolf' was a popular example. The modern forms of the surname include a wide range of spellings although all have the same meaning of 'Little Rolf or Son of Rolf'. These include Rollett, Rollitt, Rowlett, Rowlatt, Rylett, Rylatt, Rillett, Rylett, Rillatt and many others. Examples of the surname recording include James Rillett recorded in London at St. Botolph's, Bishopsgate, on August 21st 1656, and Thomas Rylatt who married Martha Christiana Scarborough at Boston in Lincolnshire on October 15th 1754. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Roulot, which was dated 1327, in the Suffolk Subsidy Rolls, during the reign of King Edward 11, known as 'Edward of Caernafon', 1307 - 1327. 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.

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