Recorded as Ranshaw, Ramshaw, Renshaw, Renishaw, Renshall, Ravenshaw and others, this is an English surname of some complexity. Over the centuries the name spellings have overlapped or become fused, and the bbest that can be said is that the nameholders originate any of several places. These include the villages called Renishaw in Derbyshire, Ramshaw in County Durham and Northumberland, or the rather similar Ravenshaw in Warwickshire. The first place derives from the Norman-French given name "Reynold", itself from the pre 7th century Germanic name "Raginwald," meaning counsel-rule, with the English word "schage," meaning a copse or small wood, the later word shaw. Ravenshaw in Warwickshire has the different meaning of Raven wood, although it is possible that Raven is not a description of a flock of birds, but may be a personal name for somebody who owned that wood. Ramshaw can mean the rams wood, or it may be the garlic wood, from the Olde English word 'hramsa'. Early examples of the surname spelling include Sir Ralphe Rayshae, who was the vicar of Potte in East Cheshire in 1548, and Elizabeth Ranshaw who married William Butterfield, at St. Dionis Backchurch, city of London on October 26th 1655. Other recordings are those of Mary, the daughter of Edward and Rebecca Renshaw, who was christened on March 11th 1659, at Commeringham, Lincolnshire, whilst Isabella Ramshaw was christened on January 21st 1668, at St. Martins-in-the-Fields, Westminster. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Stephen de Ravenshagh. This was dated 1332, in the Subsidy Rolls of Lancashire, during the reign of King Edward 111rd of England, 1327 - 1377. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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