1) A word of Old English origin with more shades of meaning formerly than it has now. It was commonly an office, position or function.
1514 we have yeven [given] ... unto hym th’office and rowme of baner berer, Ripon
1530-1 the rowme and office of their common stable to hymsylffe, Rievaulx
1725 in the Room of Mr Henry Adams lately deceased, Leeds. In this sense it was a ‘space’ occupied or left vacant: 1700 recommending your son ... as theire representative in Parliament in the room of Mr Fleming, Castle Howard. In fact, it was used in many contexts where ‘space’ or ‘place’ was the meaning: 1538 one rowme in the xxvj stall apon the sowthe sid of the middist alley within the said chirch of Halifax
1564-5 to sett and plant vj yonge trees ... and if any dye to sett ... so many other of the like ... kynde in their roome, Hemsworth. More particularly it was used of the ‘compartments’ in structures such as piers and fish garths, recorded as rowmes as early as 1394. As a compartment within a house, the most frequent meaning now, it is found in a Durham document in the mid-fifteenth century. Examples which illustrate that development include: 1586-7 to haue a bed Roome in my house, Huddersfield
1618 all and euery the roumes and parcels of that messuage ... vizt all the dwelling roumes, Handsworth Woodhouse
1642 Mary Goodale and Richard Miller have a Cottage betwixt them. Mary Goodale hath two rooms and the orchard, Elmswell
1705 20s to his daughter Alice Tatham and a room in which to live while unmarried, Eshton. In numerous compound terms it was linked with specific elements such as fire, house, moss, stee, tenter, all of which are dealt with separately.
2) Cleared space', roughly equivalent to 'stubbing'.
An undated thirteenth-century charter for Worsbrough has a reference to ‘two assarts called Rokelay stubbing and Rockelay Roum’ and in the latter the use of ‘room’ as a place-name element is sufficiently rare to deserve comment. The context suggests that the meaning is ‘cleared space’, roughly equivalent to ‘stubbing’, and it is additional evidence that the word was an active vocabulary item. This name has apparently not survived but it may share the same origin as the Morley place-name ‘Rooms’ which also dates from the thirteenth century. In 1202, Adam de Beston purchased lands in the township which included an assart lying inter le Ruhm et domum Adć filij Hugonis : Smith gave the meaning as ‘an open space, a clearing’. Later in the deed there is mention of forty acres of land in le Ruhm, so the name can be seen to emphasise how spacious or expansive the initial clearance had been. Almost incidentally it suggests an alternative meaning for the local surname Room which flourished for several centuries in the Beeston and Morley area. It had previously been considered to derive from Rome in Italy, as a name given to pilgrims.