Whats in a Name
It is assumed by some that ‘Robin Hood’ was his real name but Professor Holt says, "Some or all the names in the legend could be aliases. Little John, Scathelock or Scarlett, and Much the Miller’s son fit that very well. Robin Hood alone seems authentic, but that name too could be an alias. If so, identification of an original outlaw is rendered nigh impossible."
The general practise was for people to be named after their status, location, or occupation and Robin Hood may derive from 'robber in hood' or 'robber in wood’ giving both his occupation and location thereby conforming to established naming practise. A second explanation is that the suffix -hood
signifies a group of people sharing the same lifestyle as in priesthood and knighthood and ‘robinhood’ may simply have been a way of life for many people. William-le-Fevere is a prime example of this for in a court record he became William Robehod, his second ‘name’ branding him a robber. See Mark Twain for the use of the word robberhood and see here and here for the etymology of the word hood/head.
A third possibility is simply that place names bearing the name Robin Hood are notorious for robbers. An example being Baytown near Scarborough, which was a haven for smugglers and robbers and became known as "Robin Hood's Bay." Also Robin Hood’s Well on the Great North Road was feared by travellers and it is at Robin Hood's Well where Robin Hood is said to have robbed the Bishop of Hereford. About a quarter of a mile from the well, is Bishop Tree Root and on this spot stood the Tree, round which Robin made the Bishop dance in his boots, after he had robbed him.
Then Little John took the bishop's cloak,
And spread it upon the ground,
And out of the bishop's portmanteau
He took three hundred pound.
"Here's money enough master," said Little John,
"A comely sight it is to see;
It makes me in charity with the Bishop,
Tho he heartily loveth not me."
Robin Hood took the Bishop by the hand,
And he caused the music to play,
And he made the Bishop to dance in his boots,
And glad he could so get away.
Further examples of the use of the 'name' are the Archbishop who introduced the Poll Tax, he was known as "Hobbe the Robbere" (Hobbe meaning evil) and in an act of parliament robbers were known as "Roberdesmen." Further examples of the use of the 'name' are Robert Hod, servant of the Abbot of Cirencester. Robert Hod, fugitive. Robert Hode, accused of manslaughter in Somerset. Robert Hod, vassal of the Constable family in Holderness. Robert Hod accused of committing forest offences in Rockingham Forest, Northamptonshire. Robert Hode of Ilveston. Robert Hode of Wadsley/Loxley, West Yorkshire. John Rabunhod. Alexander Robehod. William Robehod. Richard Hood of Sowerby. Gilbert Robehod Sussex. Robert Robehod Hampshire. Robert Hood of Newton. Robert Hood the Grave. Robertus Hood and his wife Matilda. Robyn Hod 1324. Robert Robynhoud. of West Harting, Sussex. Robert Robynhoud. Winchelsea, Sussex etc. The above amply illustrates the fact robbers were known as ‘Robinhode’ with its many spelling variations. William Robehod’s family name was Smith and everyone knows Robert of Loxley was Robin Hood.
Lud's Church in a part of the ‘Royal Forest of the Peak’ known as the Black Forest is a cavernous recess, a quarter of a mile long ranging from 30 to 50 feet in depth. It offered shelter and concealment to outlaws, disaffected people, criminals and rebels. It is possible to walk or ride past on horseback and not see the entrance, the Major Oak in Sherwood is supposed to have served a similar purpose but it has to be asked, "How many people can you get inside a tree?" One of the traditions is of services conducted by Friar Tuck in the presence of Robin Hood and his merry band of men. The church was also the model for the 'Green Chapel' in the classic medieval poem 'Sir Gawain and the Green Knight' where Sir Gawain fought the Green Knight in a return match after their earlier fracas at Camelot. The Green Knight's castle has been speculatively identified as a medieval hunting lodge that stood on the site now occupied by Swythamley Hall, little more than a mile from Lud's Church".