This German surname is locational and topographical. Recorded in several spelling forms including Reichenbach, Reitenbach and Reidelbach, it originates from various places called "Reichenbach" in the provinces of Baden and Wurttemburg. The derivation is from the early pre 7th century words 'rihhi' meaning strong or powerful and 'bah' - a stream or flowing water. Locational surnames are usually those of the original land owners, but in most cases are or were identification, it being normal practice in olden times to name people after the place from which they came. In this case the surname is most prominently recorded in the provinces of Rheinland and Brandenburg, both well away from any source of the surname. Early German registers tend to be later than equivalent British examples, many being lost in the two World Wars of this century. However we have established a number of 18th century recordings, and examples from these include Marx Reitenbach of Weisenheim, Rheinland, on June 2nd 1762, and Anne Elizabetha Reitenbachs, of Hundsbach, Rheinland, the daughter of Philip Rheitenbachs, who was christened there on July 18th 1785. This latter recording with the suffix 's' is a good example of either a patronymic (son of Reitenbach), or more likely a locational augmentation, to indicate a cityzen of Reitenbach. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Johann Georg Reitenbach, which was dated May 18th 1707, a witness at Berlin Stadt Catholic church, Brandenburg, during the reign of Emperor Joseph 1st of the German Empire, reigned from 1702 - 1711. 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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