Ralph Family History
Ralph Name Meaning
English: from Anglo-Norman and Middle English Raulf Ralf an Old French form of ancient Germanic Radulf (from rād ‘counsel advice’ + wulf ‘wolf’) hence the usual latinization of the name as Radulfus. Ralph was a common personal name among the Normans and from the mid 13th century among the native English. Almost 7% of men in the late 14th century were named Ralph. It was pronounced in a variety of ways giving rise to a large number of different surnames. Ralf could be shortened to Raff hence the surname Raff and possibly Raffel . Raulf was sometimes shortened to Raul giving us Rall and Rawlin (see Rawling ). It also appears as Rauf which was often shortened to Rau hence the surnames Rawe and Rawkin (‘young Ralph’) as well as Haw Hawkins Daw and Dawkins derived from rhyming pet forms. In late Middle English the diphthong -au- was sometimes simplified to long -a- later pronounced ‘ay’ as in modern English day which accounts for Rafe. This pronunciation of the personal name Ralph is still occasionally found in modern times. Ralph is a learned spelling of Ralf that became common in the 16th century. In Anglo-Norman and Middle English usage the rarer personal name Rolf was sometimes confused with Ralf which explains why Ralf is an alternative source for Rolf Rowe Dow and their derivatives.
Source: Dictionary of American Family Names 2nd edition, 2022