According to the famous International Genealogical Index, this English surname is recorded as Rainsden, Rainton or Raynton. It is locational from places called Rainton or Raynton in the counties of Durham and North Yorkshire. The place name and hence the surname may according to the Oxford Dictionary of English place names mean the village (tun) of the Regna people. However recently doubt has been cast on many of these meanings, and it is now considered more likely that the prefix refers to something which in someway distinguished the villages from the rest of the communities. This is thought to be the Scandanavian word "hreinn" meaning clean, and hence a reference to a clean place. Rainton in Yorkshire was a stopping place on the old Great North Road in the days of the horse drawn vehicle, so for it to be dignified in this manner may have been a reference to the quality of its accomadation! Certainly as place names they are first recorded in the Domesady Book of 1086, although the surname, as was usual, would seem to be much later. Examples of early recordings in surviving church registers of Greater London include Robert Rainton at St Mary Woolchurch on August 14th 1586, and Nicholas Raynton, a christening witness at St Andrews Enfield, on August 3rd 1641.
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