Recorded in various spellings including Raywood, Rawood, Rayworth, and Reawood, this is an English locational surname. It obviously originates from somewhere, but no place in any of the surname spellings has been found in the known gazetters of England. This suggests that the name is from a now "lost" medieval village, of which the only surviving memory in the 20th century is the surviving surname itself. The makeup of the name suggest that the meaning is similar to Rayleigh, a place in Essex. Here the suffix "leigh" is from the Olde English pre 7th century word "leah" meaning a clearing in a wood suitable for agriculture, and "Ray" is thought to be from the word "raege" meaning "roe deer", suggesting that the original Raywood was a "worp" or place where dear were reared for hunting. At least three thousand surnames of the British Isles are known to originate from lost villages, so whilst still unusual, the phenonmena is not totally uncommon. Examples of the surname recording in the surviving registers of the diocese of Greater London include those of Mary Rawood, who was christened at St Giles Cripplegate, in the city of London, on October 13th 1652, Elizabeth Raywood, who married Richard Baker at St James Clerkenwell, on October 5th 1696, and Elias Rayworth, a christeneding witness at St Sepulchre church in the city of London, on September 14th 1766.
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