Rowland Surname Genealogy

Rowland and
have similar origins, although the former tends to
be an
English name and the latter a Welsh one.
The personal name Roland –
comprising the Germanic elements hrod
meaning “renown” and land as
“land” – was a popular one in Europe during the Middle Ages as a result
of the fame of one of Charlemagne’s warriors by that name.
Roland was the common spelling in England and France, Rolland in
Germany, Rolando in Spain, and Orlando in Italy.
became Rowland as a surname in England and then often evolved into the
Rowlands (son of Rowland) in Wales. Rowland is
more prevalent than Rowlands
as a surname outside the UK.

Rowland Resources on

Rowland Ancestry

Some suggest the early Rowlands were Scottish, possibly from the
Norman Roland, Lord of Galloway, who was made constable of Scotland in
1196. The names of Gilbert and John Rolland of Ayrshire were
recorded in the Ragman’s Roll of 1296.
However, the Rowland name is scarce in Scotland today.

Rowland was a fairly common personal name in north
Wales and may have emerged first as a surname in Caernarvonshire.
One Rowland family began with Rowland ap John of Llanbebig. His
son became a successful banker in London, returned as John Rowlands,
and built his family estate at Plas y Nant in 1671. The Rowlands
stayed there until Emma Rowlands’ marriage into the Bulkeley family in
the 1750’s. Meanwhile Henry Rowland of Mellteyrn, the son of Rolant ap
Robert, was Bishop of Bangor from 1598 to 1616.

Rowlands in nearby Anglesey included:

  • Henry Rowlands of Plas Glyn, an early historian and antiquarian
    of his native Anglesey. His best-known work was Mona Antiqua Restaurata, published
    in 1723. Later Henry Rowlands were vicars at the local church in
    Llanedwen until the 1840’s.
  • and the Rowlands of Plas Tirion, Llanrug. Hugh
    Rowlands of this family was awarded the Victoria Cross during the
    Crimean War and later rose to be a General in the British Army.

From Cardiganshire in mid-Wales came Daniel Rowland who led a
Calvinist Methodist revival in Wales in the mid-18th century. His
son Nathaniel followed in his father’s footsteps, but was less
successful and lost his position for alleged drunkenness in 1807.
Daniel Rowland of this family prospered as a lawyer in London and built
a medieval-style mansion, Saxonbury Lodge, in Sussex. Meanwhile William Bowen
was the Cardigan MP from 1886 to 1895.

England. There
were Rowlands in Elizabethan and early Jacobean London, although
their general origin is uncertain. Samuel
Rowland was a popular writer of London life of his time. His
father was thought to be Anthony Rolland, a cooper in London.
Richard Rowlands, another writer, was also the son of a London cooper
but the grandson of a Dutch immigrant. Thomas Rowland, born in
London in 1562, was the forebear of William Rowland, an early emigrant
to Virginia.

Rowland was a
popular first name in English border counties such as Shropshire and
Cheshire. It too became a surname,
generally Rowland. Rowland and Rowlands
divide roughly equally in Shropshire and Cheshire, because of the
proximity to
Wales. In Lancashire further away, the
name is mainly Rowland.

The Rowland
place-name in Derbyshire, near Baslow, probably gave rise to the
surname there. Humfridus Rowland was
born in Baslow in 1584. Later Rowlands
of this line were to be found in Chesterfield and Sheffield. There is also the place-name Nymet Rowland in
Devon, formerly Rowlands Leigh, which might have been the source for
some Devon Rowlands.

Rowland in Ireland is an anglicization of the Irish
descendant of Rothlain. Rowlands can be
found in and around Castlebar
in county Mayo. One family from here
emigrated to Iowa in 1854.

The first Rowland in America was probably
English, beginning with William Rowland in James City county, Virginia
in the 1630’s. He later got caught up in Bacon’s rebellion of

“William Rowland was pressed into
Bacon’s service during the rebellion of Nathan Bacon. He was
imprisoned and forced to pay 8,000 pounds of tobacco for his

Later lines of this family were in Botecourt county, Virginia and in
North Carolina. William Rowland led his family first across the
Cumberland Gap into Tennessee in 1816 and then south, twenty years
later, to what would become Tippah county in NE Mississippi.

Rowlands to Pennsylvania from Wales included John Rowland, who came in
1699, and Owen Rowland and
his family, who arrived in 1725. John’s descendant Benjamin
founded what was to become the Rowland Shovel Works in
1796. John Rowland, born in Pennsylvania, was an early settler in
Los Angeles. His house, built
in 1855, is the oldest surviving brick structure in southern

William Rowland from the Orkney islands off
Scotland was recruited into the Hudson Bay Company in 1820.He
spent his life in the Canadian West as a fisherman,
hunter and trader, first at Norway House in Manitoba and later in

Welsh settlement at the
Chubut colony in Patagonia began in 1865 and Rowlands – such as James
William Price Rowlands, and Hugo Rowlands – were among those who
migrated there
in the next fifty years. James Rowland
published his memoirs of those times in 1946.

Australia. Another William Rowland,
this time from
Cornwall, departed with his young family on the Warrior
in 1839 for South Australia. He worked
there for a while as a gardener
before he and his family decamped to Victoria in the early 1850’s at
the time
of the gold discoveries. His son George Rowland had some
success in his
gold prospecting and later farmed at Rathscar.

Rowland Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:

Rowland Names

Daniel Rowland was one
of the leaders of the Calvinistic Methodist revival in Wales in the
18th century.
John Rowlands, born in north Wales,
changed his name to Henry Stanley in America and became famous for
Dr. Livingstone in Africa.

Tiny Rowland, born Roland Fuhrhop in India,
developed his business empire in Rhodesia, creating the Lonrho
conglomerate in the 1960’s. Prime Minister Heath called him
“the unacceptable face of capitalism.”
Clive Rowlands was the
successful coach of the Welsh rugby union team between 1968 and
Gena Rowlands is an American
actress. She is of Welsh descent.

Select Rowlands Today

  • 30,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Lancashire)
  • 14,000 in America (most numerous in Georgia)
  • 8,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)




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