The Rote surname is most often identifed as being of German origin, but may also indicate Jewish origin. Several sources, Ancestry.com among them, suggest that the name may be related to Roth or Rothe. For example, according to the for-profit site, House of Names, the name originated in Bavaria, probably as a nickname for someone with red hair or a ruddy complexion. House of Names identifies a number of names (including Roth and Rothe) as being related, but some sources are more tentative in making these connections.
The Jewish Virtual Library states that the name Rote, along with related surnames (Roti, ar-Reuti, Arrueti, Aruety, Aroti, al-Rueti, er-Routi, Rutty, Ruti, Rute) indicates descent from "a Spanish-Moroccan family which originated either in Rota on the Bay of Cadiz, or in Rueda (At. Rotʾa), Aragon." According to this source, members of the Rote family can be traced to the 14th century, when Rotes were prominent members of Jewish communities in Spain. The information given on the Rote name is sourced to the Neubauer Chronicles and provides information on several prominent Rotes of the 14th and 15th centuries.
British Surnames and Surname Profiles indicates that fewer than 0.001% of the populations of the United Kingdom, United States, and Australia have this surname. Ancestry.com provides the information that in the United States, the name Rote was concentrated primarily in Pennsylvania at the time of the 1820 census. The number of immigrants to the United States appears to have been quite small, with most departing either Norway or Germany; Ancestry.com identifies these immigrants as having arrived between 1864 and 1887, with most arriving in 1874. There were a total of 69 US Civil War veterans with the Rote surname, 65 for the Union, 4 for the Confederacy.