RUFF was a baptismal name 'the son of Rudolph' from the nickname Rolf. The name was originally of German origin and was brought to England in the wake of the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Norman spelling of the name was HROOWULF. Early records of the name mention Rolf (without surname) listed as a tenant in the Domesday Book of 1086 in County Northumberland. Robertus filius Rolf was documented in 1142 in London, and Roger Rolves of County Oxford was recorded in 1160. Robert Rolfes, was documented in the year 1273 in the County of Essex. Roger Rolf of Yorkshire was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of the year 1379. Thomas Rouf was recorded in County Sussex in the year 1524. Jasper Devenish married Elizabeth Rolphe at St. Michael, Cornhill, London in the year 1654. Thomas Rolph and Anne Bates were married at St. Michael, Cornhill, London in the year 1654.
A later record of the name is that of Frederick William Rolfe (1860-1913) who was an English novelist and essayist. He converted to Roman Catholicism but his life was shattered when he was rejected from the novitiate for the Roman priesthood at the Scots College in Rome, but this prompted his most acclaimed work, "Hadrian VII" (1904). At first the coat of arms was a practical matter which served a function on 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.
This name was especially popular among Nordic peoples in the contracted form of HROLFR, and seems to have reached England by two separate channels; partly through its use among pre-Conquest Scandinavian settlers, and partly through its popularity among the Normans, who, however, generally used the form ROUL.
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