Recorded in many forms including the French Rive, Rives, Larive, Delarive, Rivelon, the Italian Riva, Rivani, Rivano, the Catalonion Ribe, Ribes and Riba, the Spanish Rivero, and the Portugese Rebeira, da Rebeiro, and Ribeiro, this is a locational or residential surname. It originates from the ancient Roman (Latin) word 'ripa' meaning a river bank or possibly a plateau by a river or from places of the same name. As a surname it originally denoted someone who lived at such a place. It is one of that group of early European surnames that were adopted from conspicuous features in the landscape, whether natural or man-made, which could provide easy identification in the small communities of the Middle Ages. The particular forms of the surname from this source, identified as double diminutives, are mainly to be found in the Brittany and Anjou regions of France, and also in the south western counties of England, particularly Devon and Cornwall, reflecting their shared Celtic traditions. Early examples of the surname recording taken from surviving registers include: Hellena da Rebeiro of Canico in Maderia, on September 1st 1557, Francis Ryvallan of Plymouth, Devon, England, in 1596, and Louis Rives at Angers, in Maine-et-Loire, France, in 1643. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as the Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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