Recorded in a number of forms including Redhead, Redhed, Redhede, and the cognates Rednap, Redknapp and Rednap, this is an Anglo-Scottish surname. It is one of a sizeable group of early medieval European surnames that were gradually created from the habitual use of nicknames. These nicknames were given with reference to a variety of characteristics, such as physical attributes or habits of dress and occupation. Whether English or Scottish the derivation is from the Olde English pre 7th century word "read" meaning red, and "heafod or hnaepp", meaning head but denoting someone with red or auburn hair, and probably an Anglo-Saxon. Occasionally, the surname may be topographical in origin from residence by the "red headland". Early examples of the surname include: John Redheved of Cambridgeshire, in the Hundred Rolls of 1273, Fargus Redhede, a Scottish merchant, who in 1358, complained "that goods of great value were taken from the wreck of his ship at Cotum in Clyveland", and Judetha Redknappe, the daughter of Edwarde, who was christened at St Martins in the Field, Westminster, in 1590. Christopher Redhead, an early emigrant to America, was recorded in a census of those "living" in the colony of Virginia on February 16th 1623. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Adam Redhed, a witness in the assize court of Northumberland in 1246. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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