This interesting and rare name of medieval English origin is locational from a so called "lost" village, probably once found in the eastern border of Wiltshire, suggested by the fact that there are recordings of this surname in Wiltshire, Berkshire, and Hampshire. The derivation is from the Olde English pre 7th Century "ragu", lichen, or moss, and "burna", a stream or burn. The phenomena of the "lost" village is a result of enforced land clearance, during the 12th and 13th Centuries, at the height of the wool industry, to make way for sheep pasture. It is estimated that between seven and ten thousand such villages have disappeared from British maps. During the Middle Ages many people leaving the birth place to seek work elsewhere would often adopt the placename as a means of identification. One Harriot Ragbourn was christened on May 1st 1796 in Old Arlesford, Hampshire. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Frances Ragborne, which was dated December 29th 1687, witness, at "Chieveley Books", during the reign of King James 11, known as "The Last Catholic King", 1685 - 1688. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as 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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