This interesting surname is of Scottish origin, and is locational from a place so called, near Paisley in Renfrewshire. The placename was called after the first owner, Ralph, a younger son of one of the earls of Fife and means "Ralph's settlement", derived from the Old Norse personal name, composed of the Germanic elements "rad", counsel advice, and "wolf", wolf, and the Old English pre 7th Century "tun", farm settlement; the personal name was introduced into Britain by Scandinavian settlers in the Old Norse form "Rathulfr", and was reinforced after the Conquest by the Norman form "Ra(d)ulf". The surname development since 1272 (see below) includes: Thomas de Raulfrestone (1296, Lanarkshire), Jacobus de Raulyston (1346, Paisley) and John Raleston (1488, Renfrewshire). The modern surname can be found as Ralston, Raleston(e) and Raulston(e). Among the recordings in Scotland are the marriages of John Ralston and Janet Gibson on December 11th 1708 at Paisley, Renfrewshire, and of James Ralston and Elizabeth Allan on February 29th 1724, also at Paisley, Renfrewshire. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Nicholas de Ralstoun (witness), which was dated 1272, Register of the Monastery of Paisley, Scotland, during the reign of King Alexander 111 of Scotland, 1249 - 1286. 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.