This long-established surname is rather confusingly of both early medieval English and Scottish development, although they share the same origin. 'Rankin' is a diminutive form of the given name "Rand" meaning shield, with the hypocoristic suffix "kin" (son of). Amongst the early examples of the 'Rankin' name recording in England are Reginald Ranekyn in the 1296 Subsidy Rolls of Sussex, Ralph Rankin in the 1301 Subsidy Rolls of Yorkshire, and John Randekyn of Suffolk in the 1381 Subsidy Rolls for that county. The surname has a long history in Scotland. It was found early in Ayrshire, originally part of the ancient Kingdom of Strathclyde. The first recording would seem to be that of John Rankeyne, burgess of Glasgow in 1456, whilst another John Rankin was vicar of Girwane in 1504, and yet another John Rankin was a tenant under the bishop of Aberdeen in 1511. The surname is also recorded in Ulster as Ranken and Raincin, the nameholders being originally of Scottish stock from Ayrshire. Other examples of recordings include the christening of Jon(athan), son of Paull Rankin, at the Church of St. Nicholas, Aberdeen, on May 12th 1657, whilst Thomas Rankin (1738 - 1810), a close friend of John Wesley, was sent to America in 1773 to 'reform the Methodist church there. He arrived at a bad time for 'reformers', as it was the middle of the War of Independence, and barely escaped back to England with his life! The Coat of Arms granted to the Rankin family depicts three red boars' heads couped between three red battleaxes on a silver shield, and in the centre a green quatrefoil. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Gilbert Reynkyn, which was dated 1273, in the "Hundred Rolls of Kent", during the reign of King Edward 1, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. 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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