English: from the Middle English and Old French personal name Rollant Rolant Rolent Roulent (ancient Germanic Hrodland Rodland from hrōd ‘glory’ + land ‘land’) introduced into England by the Normans. It was made famous by French romances about Roland the most famous of the peers of Charlemagne who was killed at Roncesvalles in AD 778. Although widely used across post-Conquest England (along with Oliver the name of Roland's companion) it seems to have been restricted to particular gentry families and was never popular. Compare Roland . English: habitational name from Rowland (Derbyshire) or Rowland Wood in Slinfold (Sussex). The Derbyshire placename derives from Old Norse rá ‘roe roe buck’ or rá ‘land mark boundary’ + lúndr ‘small wood grove’. The Sussex placename probably derives from Middle English roughe ‘rough’ + lond ‘land’ (Old English rūh land). English: in northern England and perhaps elsewhere perhaps a post-medieval variant of Rawling . Compare Rawlinson Rollinson . English: perhaps also a variant of Rolling 2 with -land substituted for -ling. Altered form of German Roland .
Source: Dictionary of American Family Names ©2013, Oxford University Press