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Home: Surnames: Ruscoe Family Genealogy Forum

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Ruscoe, Roscoe and Similar Surname Origins
Posted by: John Guittard (ID *****6550) Date: January 19, 2009 at 15:14:52
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The surnames RUSCOE, ROSCOE and similar sounding surnames or variations most likely originated, developed and changed at different times in different places from different sources.

We expect DNA testing to establish that the Ruscoes, Roscoes and similar surnames came from two or more different, genetically unrelated families that chose similar names either when surnames were being adopted beginning ca. 1250, or more recently. So far we have a RUSCOE descendant testing G2a, plus two other British RUSCOE tests plus a Slovakian ROSKO test now pending, plus six RASCOS and RASCOES and a British ROSCOE testing I2a, plus a British ROSCOE testing R1b1b2.

English Ruscoe researcher George Ruscoe reports that the RUSCOE family today is found primarily in neighboring Cheshire and Shropshire. The Shropshire Ruscoes apparently drifted in more recently from earlier homes in neighboring Cheshire, according to parish registers. The earliest recorded English Ruscoe known to us is JOHN RUSSCO, who married Katheren Dykes in Cheshire in 1538. On RUSCOE origins, George states the Huguenots were mainly French from about 1560; later craftsmen from France and the Low Countries were encouraged to settle and practice their trade in southern and eastern England. They settled in Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex from the 16th century, and might have given rise to the Essex Ruscoes.

On possible place-name origins for the RUSCOE surname, George reports that RUSCO is a hamlet in the Girthon parish, Kirkcudbrightshire, Scotland -- a variant of RUSKIE, RUSKY: dweller in a marshy place. RUSKIE is a village in Perthshire, Scotland -- the origin being a Gaelic word RIASGACH ‘marshy, boggy land’. There are several similar names in Ireland. A RUSKOE or Ruscoe estate is found in southwest Scotland (Galloway) with an ancient Ruscoe Tower, as well as the Hall and various farms or cottages that bear the name (usually spelled with a "k"). The place name Ruscoe is also found in the West Riding of Yorkshire, which seems to mean RUSH-WOOD [Old English risc, ‘rush’ and Scandinavian skógr, ‘wood’]. However, George observes there have never been very many Ruscoe or Roscoe families to his knowledge in Scotland or Ireland, and those in Yorkshire appear to have come from Lancashire.

RUSCO may also have an Italian origin -- possibly a topographic name from rusco ‘butcher’s broom’ (Latin ruscus). Also, the 1841 English census shows 16 RUSCONI in Bolton le Moors and 3 in Manchester, Lancashire, a name that could have been anglicized later to RUSCO. But the numerous derivatives of this name suggest it more likely comes from a personal name, RUSCO, of Germanic origin.

ROSCOE is the most frequently encountered of the similar sounding English surnames. Most English Roscoes have historically lived in Lancashire, where they are largely concentrated today.

RUSCOE, RASCOE, RASCO, ROSCO, and ROSCOW are sometimes described as variations of Roscoe. We have seen evidence of RUSCOES, RASCOES, ROSCOWS, ROSKOS, etc. changing their names to ROSCOE, but as yet no ROSCOES permanently changing their names to RUSCOE or ROSCOW. We hope to learn through appropriate tests whether RUSCOES originally were genetically distinct from ROSCOES, as we suspect, with some later name changes from RUSCOE to ROSCOE. So far we have found I2a2 and R1b1b2 Roscoe lines in Lancashire and a G2a Roscoe line tracing back to the Essex-Hartford Ruscoe/Rouscoue family in Essex.

Mark Antony Lower wrote in his early PATRONYMICA BRITANNICA, 1860, that ROSCOE / ROSCOW was possibly a corruption of ROSCROWE and "certainly a Cornish name." Charles Wareing Bardsley doubted that statement in his DICTIONARY OF ENGLISH AND WELSH SURNAMES, 1901. He felt sure ROSCOE was a Lancashire locational or habitational surname, though he could not find the spot in Lancashire from which it derived. We understand there may once have been a Roscoe place in Lancashire near Leyland and Chorley.

The English surnames ROSCOE and RASCOE have been described as --
(1) an English habitational name from places in Lancashire and Yorkshire called Roscoe, meaning in old Norse roe (deer) + coe (glen or wood) -- hence, deer wood; or
(2) an Americanized spelling of the French name RACICOT (derivation unknown).

ROSCOE also appears in some cases to have derived from RUSCOE, which may have been an anglicized version of ROUSCOUE or RAUSCOUE. The first Rouscoue we know about was JOHN ROUSCOUE, alien, who was taxed in Essex in 1545, and his likely son was JOHN RUSCOE. Some later descendants apparently changed their name to ROSCOE. RASCOE family historian Harvey Dann believed that the Huguenot RASCOES were of Flemish or Dutch Flemish origin, and that French Huguenots named ROUSCOUE or RAUSCOUE migrated to England during the 1500's to avoid religious persecution. A tester tracing back on this line has been classified as G2a haplogroup. Another tester is needed on this line to verify the profile.

The English surname RASCO is said by one internet source to have been first found in Yorkshire where family members were anciently seated as lords of the manor. Spelling variations of this name are said to include RASKILL, RASKELL, RESKELL, RASCAL, CASCALL, RASCILL, and others. A test is needed to determine whether these particular RASCO families came from their own genetically different source.

RASCON -- Spanish
1. probably a habitational name from either of the places called Rascón in Cantabria and Badajoz provinces on the northern and western coasts of Spain.
2. possibly a nickname from rascón ‘sour’, ‘sharp’ or a homonym meaning ‘rail’ (the bird).

The Spanish RASCO surname may have come from RASCON. RASCO families have been found in Spain and Italy, and RASCHAUS and RASCHKAUS lived in Prussia. A Spanish RASCON on RASCO test is needed to see whether they are related to any English Roscoe line or to our pending test back to a Slovakian Rosko family.

ROSKO is from the Hungarian Roskó, which is derived from a pet form of the personal name Roska, of Romanian origin. A test is now pending on a Slovakian ROSKO line, which may be very remotely related to the I2a2 Northampton-Bertie line of Balkan-origin RASCOES.

Primary Source: Dictionary of American Family Names, Oxford University Press.

For more information on RUSCOE, ROSCOE and similar surname notables and patriarchs, family lines, origins, haplogroups, ancestor locations, populations, etc., please see the Roscoe / Rasco Family History Y-DNA Study Website at
and the Roscoe Family History Forum (join free) at

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