Recorded in some forty spelling forms from Reynard, Reinhard, Renhard and Reignard, to Reinaert, Raardot, and Reintsema, this interesting surname is ultimately of pre 7th century Germanic origins. However spelt it derives from the male personal name "Raginhard", composed of the elements "ragin", meaning counsel, with "hard", hardy, brave, strong. The given names "Rainardi" and "Rainart" are noted in the Domesday Book of Norfolk (1086). This name was borne by the cunning fox in the popular medieval cycle of beast-tales, with the result that from the 13th Century the Old French "goupil", fox, was replaced by the modern form "renard", fox.This suggests that the surname may also have originated as a nickname for crafty individuals, referring to the fox's reputation for cunning. The surname is first recorded in the early 13th Century (see below), and recordings of the surname from medieval times include Heinrch Reinhard of Bonnigheld, Germany, in the year 1286, and Heinrici reinhart of Homburg, Germany, in 1315. Church register recordings in England include: the christening of Beatrice, daughter of James Reynard, on July 29th 1571, at St. Botolph without Aldgate; city of London. The first recorded spelling of the family name anywhere in the world is shown to be that of Elias Reynardi, which was dated 1205, at St. Benet Holme, Norfolk. This was during the reign of King John of England, known by the nickname of "Lackland", 1199 - 1216. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. Throughout the centuries surnames in every country have continued to "develop", often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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