Recorded as Robatham, Robathon, Rhubottom, Roubottom, Roobottam, Rowbotham, Roebotham, and possibly others, this is an English surname. It is either topographical for someone who lived in an overgrown valley, or possibly locational from a 'now' lost medieval village of which the only public reminder of its existence is the current surname in its many spellings. It would seem that the name derives from the Old English pre 7th century word 'ruh', meaning rough or uncultivated ground, plus 'botham', used here in the transferred sense of a dell or the innermost part of a valley. The surname is particularly well recorded in London church registers from the mid 16th Century, (see below), and examples include that on August 6th 1555 of Elizabeth Rowbotham, who was christened at Christ Church Greyfriars, and on June 2nd 1577 that of Elizabeth Rowbottom was christened in St. Martin in the Fields, Westminster. The high incidence of surname recordings in Lancashire church registers indicate that the name may be locational from that county. These include that of Mary Rheubottom who married Samuel Broadbent at St. Mary's church, Ashton Under Lyne, Lancashire on January 12th 1796. The first recorded spelling of the family name may be that of Dorythye Robotom. She married Robert Rowe,on October 23rd 1546 at St. Michael's Cornhill, during the reign of King Henry V111th, 1509 - 1547. 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.