This is an English residential surname. It may be locational from one of the villages called Redworth in the counties of Devon and Durham, or be topographical and describe a dweller by a red wood, or it may even derive from a now "lost" medieval village, of which the surviving surname is the only public reminder of its existence. "Red wood" is probably a reference to some type of birch trees which in the spring develop a reddish tinge, or perhaps to a maple wood. The derivation is from the Old English pre 7th century words read, meaning red, and wudu or worp, a wood or copse.In the modern idiom the spellings include Ridewood, Readwood and Redwood. Residential surnames were amongst the earliest names to be created, as natural or man made features in the countryside, provided obvious and convenient means of identification. Furthermore as people began to move about the country to seek work in the Middle Ages, an obvious method of identification was to call these people by the name of the place from whence they came. Spelling being at best erratic, and local dialects very thick, soon lead to the development of "sounds like" spellings. Amongst the early surviving recordings in the diocese of Greater London is that of John Redewood, at the church of St James Clerkenwell, on July 18th 1558, and rather later, the marriage between Thomas Ridewood and Jane Boulton on November 25th 1791 at St. Mary's, St. Marylebone. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John de Redwode, in the charters of the county of Northumberland, in the year 1272. This was during the reign of King Edward 1st, known by the nickname of "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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