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


The Rawls surname is a patronymic from a medieval form of the personal name Ralph.

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The surname Rawls was first found in Cornwall where they held a family seat as Lords of the Manor of Kennet and Trevil in St.Juliet. Cornwall was a land set apart, a land of mystique and quaint customs, more strongly related to Brittany and Wales than to England. It was not until the 10th century that they submitted to the Saxon rule of England. Since then, their influence has moved east into Devon, Somerset and Dorset.

Cornish surnames are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations. The frequent changes in surnames are due to the fact that the Old and Middle English languages lacked definite spelling rules. The official court languages, which were Latin and French, were also influential on the spelling of a surname. Since the spelling of surnames was rarely consistent in medieval times, and scribes and church officials recorded names as they sounded rather than adhering to any specific spelling rules, it was common to find the same individual referred to with different spellings of their surname in the ancient chronicles. Moreover, a large number of foreign names were brought into England, which accelerated and accentuated the alterations to the spelling of various surnames. Lastly, spelling variations often resulted from the linguistic differences between the people of Cornwall and the rest of England. The Cornish spoke a unique Brythonic Celtic language which was first recorded in written documents during the 10th century. However, they became increasingly Anglicized, and Cornish became extinct as a spoken language in 1777, although it has been revived by Cornish patriots in the modern era. The name has been spelled Rawle, Rawles, Rorles, Ralls, Rall and others.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Rawls research. Another 175 words (12 lines of text) covering the years 1400, 1632, 1658, and 1660 are included under the topic Early Rawls History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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More information is included under the topic Early Rawls Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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An examination into the immigration and passenger lists has discovered a number of people bearing the name Rawls:

Rawls Settlers in United States in the 19th Century


  • J J Rawls, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1851

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  • Robert M. Rawls, American Democrat politician, Chair of Greene County Democratic Party, 1943
  • Riseup Rawls, American politician, Member of North Carolina House of Commons from Gates County, 1829
  • Nancy Vivian Rawls (1926-1985), American politician, U.S. Ambassador to Togo, 1974-76; Ivory Coast, 1979-83
  • Morgan Rawls (1829-1906), American Democrat politician, Member of Georgia State Legislature; U.S. Representative from Georgia 1st District, 1873-74
  • J. Lewis Rawls Jr., American Democrat politician, Member of Virginia State Senate 15th District, 1976-79
  • Benjamin Franklin Rawls (b. 1812), American Democrat politician, Postmaster at Columbia, South Carolina, 1845-48
  • Benjamin Rawls (1772-1866), American Democrat politician, Postmaster at Columbia, South Carolina, 1835-41
  • S. W. Rawls, American Democrat politician, Alternate Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Virginia, 1944
  • Louis Allen "Lou" Rawls (1933-2006), American three-time Grammy Award winning soul, jazz, and blues singer
  • John Bordley Rawls (1921-2002), American philosopher awarded the 1999 Rolf Schock Prize in Logic and Philosophy

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  1. Weis, Frederick Lewis, Walter Lee Sheppard and David Faris. Ancestral Roots of Sixty Colonists Who Came to New England Between 1623 and 1650 7th Edition. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0806313676).
  2. Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Galveston Texas 1896-1951. National Archives Washington DC. Print.
  3. Matthews, John. Matthews' American Armoury and Blue Book. London: John Matthews, 1911. Print.
  4. Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin . Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8).
  5. Thirsk, Joan. The Agrarian History of England and Wales. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: 7 Volumes. Print.
  6. Browning, Charles H. Americans of Royal Descent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  7. Mills, A.D. Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-19-869156-4).
  8. Reaney P.H and R.M. Wilson. A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X).
  9. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  10. Burke, Sir Bernard. General Armory Of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Ramsbury: Heraldry Today. Print.
  11. ...

The Rawls Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Rawls 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 28 January 2016 at 12:56.

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