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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2016


The ancient Anglo-Saxon surname Rathbone came from the baptismal name Rawbone. Patronymic surnames arose out of the vernacular and religious given name traditions. The vernacular or regional naming tradition is the oldest and most pervasive type of patronymic surname. According to this custom, names were originally composed of vocabulary elements from the local language. Vernacular names that were derived from ancient Germanic personal names have cognates in most European languages.

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The surname Rathbone was first found in Lancashire where they held a family seat from early times and their first records appeared on the early census rolls taken by the early Kings of Britain to determine the rate of taxation of their subjects.

The English language only became standardized in the last few centuries; therefore, spelling variations are common among early Anglo-Saxon names. As the form of the English language changed, even the spelling of literate people's names evolved. Rathbone has been recorded under many different variations, including Rathbone, Rawbone, Rathburn and others.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Rathbone research. Another 195 words (14 lines of text) covering the years 1750, 1696 and 1746 are included under the topic Early Rathbone History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 93 words (7 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Rathbone Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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For many English families, the political and religious disarray that shrouded England made the far away New World an attractive prospect. On cramped disease-ridden ships, thousands migrated to those British colonies that would eventually become Canada and the United States. Those hardy settlers that survived the journey often went on to make important contributions to the emerging nations in which they landed. Analysis of immigration records indicates that some of the first North American immigrants bore the name Rathbone or a variant listed above:

Rathbone Settlers in United States in the 17th Century


  • Richard Rathbone, who landed in Massachusetts in 1628

Rathbone Settlers in United States in the 19th Century


  • Jonathon Rathbone settled in Charleston in 1820
  • John W Rathbone, who landed in Mobile, Ala in 1850
  • M Rathbone, who arrived in San Francisco, California in 1851
  • E Rathbone, who arrived in San Francisco, California in 1851

Rathbone Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century


  • Basil Rathbone arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Stately" in 1851
  • Thomas Rathbone, aged 43, arrived in Nelson aboard the ship "Adamant" in 1874
  • Olivia Rathbone, aged 42, arrived in Nelson aboard the ship "Adamant" in 1874
  • Sophia Rathbone, aged 10, arrived in Nelson aboard the ship "Adamant" in 1874
  • James Rathbone, aged 7, arrived in Nelson aboard the ship "Adamant" in 1874


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  • Henry Reed Rathbone (1837-1911), United States military officer and diplomat who was present at the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln
  • Monroe Jackson Rathbone V (b. 1984), American actor, best known for his role as Jasper Hale in The Twilight Saga
  • Perry Rathbone (1911-2000), American Museum Director, director of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
  • William Rathbone IV (1757-1809), English merchant
  • William Rathbone V (1787-1868), English merchant and politician
  • William Rathbone VI (1819-1902), English merchant and philanthropist
  • Julian Christopher Rathbone (1935-2008), English novelist
  • Elfrida Rathbone (1871-1940), English educationist, founder of Rathbone, a British charitable organization
  • Andrew Rathbone (b. 1969), English drummer
  • Sir Basil Rathbone KBE, MC, Kt (1892-1967), English Tony Award winning actor, probably best known for his role as Sherlock Holmes which he reprised fourteen times

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The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Suaviter et Fortiter
Motto Translation: Mildly and firmly.

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  1. Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds. Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8).
  2. Magnusson, Magnus. Chambers Biographical Dictionary 5th edition. Edinburgh: W & R Chambers, 1990. Print.
  3. Lennard, Reginald. Rural England 1086-1135 A Study of Social and Agrarian Conditions. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1959. Print.
  4. MacAulay, Thomas Babington. History of England from the Accession of James the Second 4 volumes. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1879. Print.
  5. Elster, Robert J. International Who's Who. London: Europa/Routledge. Print.
  6. Markale, J. Celtic Civilization. London: Gordon & Cremonesi, 1976. Print.
  7. Burke, John Bernard Ed. The Roll of Battle Abbey. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  8. Sanders, Joanne McRee Edition. English Settlers in Barbados 1637-1800. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  9. Bullock, L.G. Historical Map of England and Wales. Edinburgh: Bartholomew and Son, 1971. Print.
  10. Bowman, George Ernest. The Mayflower Reader A Selection of Articales from The Mayflower Descendent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  11. ...

The Rathbone Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Rathbone Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 13 December 2015 at 21:42.

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