This surname of ROWARTH was derived from the Old Norman word HROALDR meaning 'glory-brave' and the name was brought into England in the wake of the Norman Invasion of 1066. The earliest of the name on record appears to be ROLD (without surname) who was listed as a tenant in the Domesday Book of 1086. During the Middle Ages, when people were unable to read or write, signs were needed for all visual identification. For several centuries city streets in Britain were filled with signs of all kinds, public houses, tradesmen and even private householders found them necessary. This was an age when there were no numbered houses, and an address was a descriptive phrase that made use of a convenient landmark. At this time, coats of arms came into being, for the practical reason that men went into battle heavily armed and were difficult to recognise. It became the custom for them to adorn their helmets with distinctive crests, and to paint their shields with animals and the like. Coats of arms accompanied the development of surnames, becoming hereditary in the same way. Later instances of the name mention Alanus filius Ruhald, who appears in 1175 in County Yorkshire, and Edward Rowath was documented in Lancashire in 1273. William Rowett of Yorkshire was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. The name has numerous variant spellings which include Rowath, Rold, Rowat and Rowett. A later instance of the name includes John Hillam who married Eleanor Rolt at St. George's, Hanover Square, London in the year 1745. The origin of badges and emblems, are traced to the earliest times, although, Heraldry, in fact, cannot be traced later than the 12th century, or at furthest the 11th century. At first armorial bearings were probably like surnames and assumed by each warrior at his free will and pleasure, his object being to distinguish himself from others. It has long been a matter of doubt when bearing Coats of Arms first became hereditary. It is known that in the reign of Henry V (1413-1422), a proclamation was issued, prohibiting the use of heraldic ensigns to all who could not show an original and valid right, except those 'who had borne arms at Agincourt'. The College of Arms (founded in 1483) is the Royal corporation of heralds who record proved pedigrees and grant armorial bearings.
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