This ancient surname, of English origin with variant spellings Reade, Reede, and Reide, has three sources. Firstly, it may be a nickname for a person with red hair or a ruddy complexion, deriving from the Middle English "re(a)d", Olde English pre 7th Century "read" meaning "red". Secondly, it may be a topographical name for someone who lived in a clearing in woodland, deriving from the Olde English "ried, ryd". Thirdly, it may be a locational name from any of the various places called Read or Reed. Read in Lancashire derives its name from a contracted form of the Olde English "roege" meaning "female roe deer" plus "heafod", "head(land)". Rede in Suffolk is so called from the Olde English "hreod" meaning "reeds", and Reed in Hertfordshire derives from the Olde English "ryht" meaning "brushwood". The surname dates back to the early 11th Century (see below). Further recordings include Hugo le Rede (1220), the Curia Regis Rolls of Lancashire, and Hamo le Reed (1296), the Subsidy Rolls of Sussex. Church Records include Barsabe Reede who was christened on May 2nd 1548 in St. Dionis Backchurch, London, and James Reed who was christened on June 16th 1605 in St. Dunstan's, Stepney, London. Mary Reed, aged 17 yrs., a famine emigrant, sailed from Liverpool aboard the "Devonshire", bound for New York on April 10th 1846. A Coat of Arms granted to the family has the blazon of gules a saltire ore between four garb's ore. The crest being from an oak tree stump an eagle rising. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Leofwine Reade, which was dated 1016 - 1020, in the "Olde English Bynames of Kent", during the reign of King Ethelred 1, known as "The Unready", 978 - 1016. 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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