This interesting surname is of English locational origin from either Renishaw or Ravenshaw. Renishaw is situated in Derbyshire and derives from the Middle English given name "Reynold" from the Germanic "Ragin-wald" meaning "counsel-rule" plus "showe" meaning a copse or small wood. Ravenshaw in Warwickshire is a compound of the elements "raven" raven and "showe" a wood; hence "dweller by the raven-wood". The surname is first recorded in the early half of the 14th Century (see below). Sir Ralphe Rayshae, was vicar of Potte, East Cheshire (1548) and Rauffe Renshae was buried in Prestbury Church, Cheshire (1561). In the modern idiom the surname has many spelling variations, including Ravenshaw, Ravenshear, Ranshaw, Renshaw, Renshall, Renshell, etc.. On August 26th 1655, Elizabeth Ranshaw married William Butterfield, at St. Dionis Backchurch, London. Mary, daughter of Edward and Rebecca Ranshaw, was christened on March 11th 1659, at Commeringham, Lincolnshire. On January 21st 1668, at St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Westminster, Isabella, daughter of Guiliemli and Annae Ranshaw was christened. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Stephen de Ravenshagh, which was dated 1332, in the Subsidy Rolls of Lancashire, during the reign of King Edward 111, known as the Father of the Navy, 1327 - 1377. 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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