This surname was a locational name 'of Rowland' in County Derbyshire. Local names usually denoted where a man held his land, and indicated where he actually lived. The name is also spelt ROULAND, ROWLAND, ROLLANT, ROLLANG, ROWLANDS, ROLANCE, ROELAND and ROELANDS, to name but a few. The earliest record of the name mentions Rolland (without surname) listed in the Domesday Book of 1086. In 1066 Duke William of Normandy conquered England. He was crowned King, and most of the lands of the English nobility were soon granted to his followers. Domesday Book was compiled 20 years later. The Saxon Chronicle records that in 1085 'at Gloucester at midwinter, the King had deep speech with his counsellors, and sent men all over England to each shire to find out, what or how much each landowner held in land and livestock, and what it was worth. The returns were brought to him'. William was thorough. One of his Counsellors reports that he also sent a second set of Commissioners 'to shires they did not know and where they were themselves unknown, to check their predecessors' survey, and report culprits to the King'. The information was collected at Winchester, corrected, abridged, and copied by one single writer into a single volume. Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex were copied, by several writers into a second volume. The whole undertaking was completed at speed, in less than 12 months. William Roulland was recorded in the year 1185 in Glamorgan and Robertus Rouland was recorded in 1273 Wiltshire.
Nicholas Roland appears in the year 1303 in the County of Essex. Surnames as we know them today were first assumed in Europe from the 11th until the 15th century. They had not been in use in England before the Invasion of William the Conqueror in 1066, when they were introduced into England by the Normans. They themselves had not long before adopted them. It became, in course of time, a mark of gentler blood, and it was deemed a disgrace for a gentleman to have but one single name, as the meaner sort. It was not until the reign of Edward II (1307-1327) that it became general practice for all people. Later instances of the name include Saray, daughter of William Rowland who was baptised at St. James's, Clerkenwell, London in 1683, and Thomas Rowlandson and Anne Waters were married at St. George's, Hanover Square, London in 1700. The associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884.
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