This ancient Scottish surname is recorded in the spellings of Renfrew, Renfreu, Renfree, and the extra-ordinary Rentfree. The name derives from the city of Renfrew, although all the variant spellings of the name are probably English developments. The surname is first recorded in the 13th century, the first name holder being required to give an oath of allegiance to the government of Scotland who were 'between kings' from 1296 to 1306 when the famous Robert, The Bruce, claimed the throne. Eitherway in 1304 one Robert Reynfreu was a prisoner of the English and held at Old Sarum Castle, Salisbury. He was apparently released in 1307, perhaps as an act of mercy when King Edward 1st of England, known as 'The hammer of the Scots', died. Later recordings include Galfridus Renfrew in Aberdeen in 1408, and Bartholomew Renfrew of Glasgow in 1481. The London church registers include John Rentfrow, a witness at St Leonards church, Shoreditch, on July 7th 1669, and John Rentfree, at St Brides church, Fleet Street, on November 18th 1689. On January 5th 1761 Benjamin Renfree married Jane Jones at St Dionis Backchurch, whilst possibly the same Benjamin Renfree married a Mary Jones at St Leonards, Shoreditch, in 1769. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Adam de Reynfreu, which was dated 1296, pleaded allegiance to the Scottish council, during the reign of The Interregnum Government of Scotland, 1296 - 1306. 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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