This surname RAWLS was a baptismal name 'the son of Randulf' an ancient personal name although now forgotten in its original form. The earliest record of this name appears to be Radulf (without surname) who was recorded as a tenant in chief in the Domesday Book of 1086. Other spellings of the name include RALPH, RALPHE, RALLS, RAWLES and RALLES. The name had reached England before the Norman Conquest and may have come direct from Scandinavia. The name was very common indeed in England in the 12th century but almost invariably latinized as RADULFUS. Since the dawn of civilisation the need to communicate has been a prime drive of all higher mankind. The more organised the social structure became, the more urgent the need to name places, objects and situations essential to the survival and existence of the social unit. From this common stem arose the requirements to identify families, tribes and individual members evolving into a pattern in evidence today. In the formation of this history, common usage of customs, trades, locations, patronymic and generic terms were often adopted as surnames. The demands of bureaucracy formally introduced by feudal lords in the 11th century, to define the boundaries and families within their fiefdoms, crystallized the need for personal identification and accountability, and surnames became in general use from this time onwards. Other records of the name mention John Radulphius, 1273, County Yorkshire. Ralph le Gras of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Ralph filius Ivo, ibid. Following the crusades in Europe in the 11th, 12th and 13th centuries, a need was felt for a family name to replace the one given at birth, or in addition to it. This was recognized by those of noble birth, and particularly by those who went on the Crusades, as it added prestige and practical advantage to their status. At first the coat of arms was a practical matter which served a function of the battlefield and in tournaments. With his helmet covering his face, and armour encasing the knight from head to foot, the only means of identification for his followers, was the insignia painted on his shield, and embroidered on his surcoat, the draped and flowing garment worn over the armour.
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