This well-known northern English surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is either a topographical name from residence in an overgrown valley, deriving from the Olde English pre 7th Century "ruh", rough, overgrown, with "botham", valley, or a locational name from some minor, unrecorded, or now "lost" place believed to have been situated in the Staffordshire/Lancashire area because of the high incidence of early surname recordings from that region. Topographical surnames were among the earliest created, since both natural and man-made features in the landscape provided easily recognizable distinguishing names in the small communities of the Middle Ages. The prime cause of medieval village "disappearance" was the enforced clearing of rural settlements to make way for sheep pastures at the height of the wool trade from the 14th Century on, along with natural causes such as the Black Death of 1348, in which an eighth of the population perished. The surname is variously spelt Robottham, Rowbotham, Ro(w)bottom, Roebottom and Rewbottom, in English Church Registers. On October 25th 1620, Richard Rowbottom and Allice Barlow were married at Bury, Lancashire. A Coat of Arms granted to the Rowbottom family is a shield divided per fess silver and black with a chief embattled between three roebucks counterchanged, the Crest being a gold eagle, pellettee, preying on a silver wing, vulned red. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Robottham, which was dated July 26th 1540, a christening witness at Betley, Staffordshire, during the reign of King Henry V111, known as "Bluff King Hal", 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.