This long-established name, found chiefly in the Northern counties of Northumberland, County Durham, Yorkshire, and Lincolnshire, is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and either a locational surname from Radshaw Gill in Fewston, West Yorkshire, or a topographical surname peculiar to those counties. The placename is derived from the Olde English pre 7th Century elements "read", red, with "sceaga", copse, grove, small wood, in Middle English "shaw(e)". The use of "read", red, as the first instance in similar placenames, such as Radley, "red glade", and Redwood, probably refers to birch trees as they appear in the spring. As a topographical surname Re(a)dshaw denotes residence near or by such a "red copse". The modern surname from this source can be found as Readshaw, Redshaw, Reedshaw and Reidshaw, and the development of the name has included the following examples: Readeshawe (1569, Durham); Redeshawe (1569, Lincolnshire); Ridshay (1575, Yorkshire); and Redgeshawe (1586, Lincolnshire). Recordings from Church Registers include the christening of Iditha, daughter of Thomas Readshaw, in Howden, Yorkshire, on June 19th 1571, and the marriage of Thomas Readshaw and Jane Welande on August 11th 1578, at Gateshead, County Durham. A Coat of Arms granted to a family of the name is an ermine shield, on a black chief embattled a gold talbot's head couped between two silver pheons. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Jahanna Readshawe, which was dated November 23rd 1561, christened at Kyme, Lincolnshire, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, known as "Good Queen Bess", 1558 - 1603. 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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