This unusual and interesting surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is an occupational name for a steward or bailiff, the precise character of whose duties varied from place to place and at different periods. It derives from the Middle English "reeve", a development of the Olde English pre 7th Century "(ge)refa", meaning reeve (steward, bailiff). Job-descriptive surnames originally denoted the actual occupation of the namebearer, and later became hereditary. The surname dates back to the early 13th Century (see below), and early recordings include: Sampson le Reve (1273) in the Hundred Rolls of Suffolk, and James le Reve (1281) in the Calendar of Letter Books of the City of London. London Church Records list the christening of Christopher, son of John Reeve, on November 13th 1587 at St. Botolph's, Bishopsgate, and the marriage of Edward Reeve to Fraunces Dobs on June 21st 1592 at St. Mary the Virgin, Aldermanbury. A Coat of Arms granted to a Reeve family is silver, on a black fess engrailed between three blue escallops, three gold eagles displayed. The Crest is a gold eagle's head erased, black collared. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Walter le Reve, which was dated 1220, in the "Register of the Freemen of Leicester", during the reign of King Henry 111, known as "The Frenchman", 1216 - 1272. 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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