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History

With William the Conqueror was a commander of archers named Paulyn who rendered such faithful and courageous service to the Norman cause that he was rewarded with lands, a portion of which was the manor on Rawden Hill. Granting manors to military leaders was more than a matter of largesse on William’s part. It was the medieval method of controlling newly conquered countries. For Paulyn, as for scores of other new lords of new manors, it meant a continuing obligation to the new ruler, but it also meant a near guarantee of prosperity by means of a new family seat and the control over fiefdom.

At the time of invasion, Paulyn, in common with his peers, had no true surname, or family name. Surnames were not yet necessary to distinguish one man from another. In fact, it seems that the first real use of the surname came about because of the Norman invaders’ need to know how much land they controlled and what the value of the land was. To determine this, a census, called the Domesday Survey, was taken of the 5500-or-so land-holding knights and each was identified with a surname.

If Paulyn was still alive when the Domesday Survey was made, we assume that he received his surname – taken from the place-name Rawden (as it was spelled at that time). He is generally referred to as Paulyn de Rawden, meaning simply Paulyn of Rawden Hill Manor.

“Rawden,” means in Old English, “a dweller in the rough valley.” The manor, or tract of land, on the hill near the “rough valley” awarded to Paulyn was on the River Aire in the former Urban District of Aireborough in Yorkshire, England’s largest county. Rawdon, as it is spelled nowadays, is a quiet residential village with a fine view of Aire valley.