The Rhodes Name Origins have been explained in a number of ways. The one I find least believable that I have seen through family history shops that supposedly specialise on names, state that Rhodes derives from a clearing in the woods, that is a road. English surnames are generally formed from occupational names and place names. I feel that too many of these organisations make assumptions without enough facts, so they say things like, "the name 'MAY' have come from", etc, etc. The one thing I have come to very much believe looking at history records is that many names are anglicised to English, from Celtic, Norman, Norse, Flemish and others. This mainly occurred during the 1500's and on. This did occur earlier, but that is the time period in which the English enforced all names possible into English sounding names so that they could understand each other. From that you find that all these cultures are then translated with many variant names. The name Rhodes is also related to Rhoads, Rhoades, Roads, Rodes, Rode and de Rode etc. There is a historic island called Rhodes in Greece that some people claim the name comes from, but I personally find that less believable, but not impossible.
I formerly believe that the name Rhodes comes from "de Rode" which means it is a Norman name. "de" means "son of" and "Rode" would be the first name of the man who was at the begining of this line. Celtic names came about the same way with "Mac, Mc and M'" for "son of" or "O'" for "grandson of". Norman's came from the Normandy region of France, but were in fact descendants of Vikings, the Norse of old and the Scandinavians of today.
Our Rhodes family has always been told that we are connected to Cecil Rhodes who was born in England, but was responsible for the diamond mining in the former Rhodesia that was named after him, now called Zimbabwe. We are somehow connected to his family, but a number of branches back in his ancestry. A book I read on Cecil Rhodes simply states that his name has Scandinavian origins. That most likely means either Norman or Norse.
The most believable and useful information I have on our Rhodes Name Origins have come from people over the Internet with, or related to the Rhodes name that have done their own extensive research. One states "If you will check on Willemus de Rode, you will find that he was a Norman that came to England with William the Conqueror in 1066. The names of his decedents stayed de Rode until approx. 1450 when the "de" was dropped. Then in 1550 Rode was changed to Rhodes and this name has been spelled both Rhodes and Rhoades". That is the most common view that I believe is highly probable.
Another example that was explained to me was "Yes, Rhodes surnames can be found in England for hundreds of years. Yes, the forbears of the surname of Rhodes /Roth /De Rode came from Scandinavian and Germanic descent. The pronunciation of the name varies with the region. But long before any of these branches of the name occurred, you will find the roots of the name originated in a province that is now lost and a part of the Czech. Republic. The principality of origination was called " SILESIA "".
An American also gave me this example "As for the Aussie, Rhodes, Rhoades, Rhoads and Rhoads almost definitely came from England, considering the immigration pattern (those that went to Australia). In the States, at least 2/3 of Rhodes, Rhoades, Rhoads, etc. were illiterate German farmers named Roth who came over prior to about 1820. English speaking scribes wrote the familiar spelling based on that which they heard on Rhodes, Rhoads, etc. Within their German speaking communities they still called themselves Roth until about 1870. There is no "th" sound in German, so it was pronounced "Rote". If your relatives came to New England first then they were probably English (referring to America). If they came to Philadelphia or Baltimore, they were almost definitely German. Within my own lineage, today the name is spelled Rhoades, Rhoads, Rhodes and Roades.
That is the extent of my research on the Rhodes name and I stand firmly in my belief that it is at least Norman in origin.