Recorded as Ralston, Ralestone, Rolston, Rolstone, Rowlestone, and possibly others, this is an Anglo-Scottish surname. It is locational and may originate from a place called Ralston near Paisley in Renfrewshire, or it could possibly for some nameholders, be English from a small village called Rolstone in the county of Somerset. If Scottish, the placename and hence the later surname was "Ralph's settlement", with Ralph being a younger son of the first earl of Fife. "Ralph" is from the Old Norse pre 7th century personal name Rathulfr, composed of the elements "rad", meaning counsel, "wolf", a wolf, plus the Old English word "tun", meaning farm or settlement. The personal name was reinforced after the Norman Conquest of England by the French version spelt "Radulf". The surname development includes: Thomas de Raulfrestone of Lanarkshire in 1296, Jacobus de Raulyston of Paisley in 1346, and John Raleston of Renfrewshire in 1488. In England the name is recorded in the church registers of the diocese of Greater London in 1629, when Frances Roulston married Henry Reede at St Dunstans in the East, Stepney, on January 26th of that year, whilst James Rolston is recorded at St Matthews church, Friday Street, in the city of London, on March 7th 1680. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Nicholas de Ralstoun. This was dated 1272, in the 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 sometimes known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.