Last name: Rigney

Recorded in many spelling forms including Raggeny, Ragne, and Rigney, this is an English surname. It is clearly locational and therefore from some place, however no such place or anything like it, has been found in any of the known gazetters, even those going back several centuries. This suggests that the surname either originates from a now "lost" medieval village of which the surname in its various forms is the only surviving public reminder, or the place name spelling or the surname spelling, has been "transposed" to the point where it is no longer recognizeable. Either are possible as it is known that over three thousand surnames of the British Isles originate from "lost" places. Furthermore locational surnames are by their nature "from" names. That is to say names given to people as easy identification after they left their original homes to move somewhere else. Spelling being at best indifferent and local accents very thick, soon lead to the development of "sounds like" forms. In this case early examples of the surname recordings taken from surviving registers of the diocese of Greater London include: Thomas Raggeny, the son of Ezechiel Raggeny, who was christened at St Botolphs Bishopgate, on June 17th 1599, Susanna Ragne, who married Stephen Renew at St Dunstans in the East, Stepney, on September 29th 1717, and Thomas and Mary Rigney, whose son also called Thomas, was christened at Holborn Lying in Hospital, on April 18th 1776.

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D. Rigney
The Latin word-endings agna, igna, agnae, ignae became igné, igney, ignies, igny, etc. in French dialects. They are probably variants of the Latin word ignis (fire). The French word igné means on fire, or incandescent. Therefore, igney may refer to a place where there is fire, or an encampment. 33 towns in France end in "igney", and all but two are in Franche-Comté. 576 towns in France end in "igny", all over France. Therefore, the spelling of Rigney suggests a Franche-Comté origin. Rigney might be a contraction of Roche-igney (Encampment at, of, or on the rock), as evidenced by the chateau at Rigney, Franche-Comté called Chateau de la Roche, which is built upon a cliff that dominates the valley of the Ognon river (La Roche-sur-l'Ognon). In the 1600s, there was more than one reason to leave Franche-Comté. One was the religious wars. Another was the practice of serfdom, which caused emigration. One place to go was a plantation in Ireland, which was land confiscated by the English crown, and colonized by settlers from England, the Scottish Lowlands, and continental Europe. One of the oldest plantations was the Plantation of King's County (now Offaly). The Rigneys in Ireland were associated almost exclusively with Offaly, suggesting that they were settlers there and became "Scotch-Irish", who, it should be noted, were in general neither Scotch nor Irish. Genetic tests of at least one lineage of Rigney that came to America before 1750 indicate that they are Saxons who originally lived in Lower-Saxony in the vicinity of what is now Hannover, Germany. Rigneys are not celts.

Bernadette Pruitt
There is a town in France named Rigny-Usee. Some accounts have suggested that some Rigneys might have been French Hugenots who fled to England.