This interesting and rare surname is a variant of the surname Reynard, which is of both English and French origin. The surname is derived from a Germanic personal name, composed of the elements 'ragin', counsel, and 'hard', hardy, brave, strong, thus, 'counsel-brave'. The personal name was introduced into England as 'Re(i)nard' by the Normans after the Invasion of 1066. 'Re(i)nard' was the name borne by the cunning fox in the popular medieval cycle of beast-tales, with the result that from the 13th Century it began to replace the previous Old French word for the animal, which was 'goupil'. The modern surname can be found as Ranyard, Reynard, Renhard, Rennard and Renyard. An interesting namebearer was one Ellen Henrietta Ranyard (1810-1879), who was the founder of the female bible mission. She published 'The Book and its Story' in 1852, and from 1856 she edited a periodical called 'The Book and its Mission'; this was renamed 'The Missing Link Magazine' in 1865. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Elias Reynardi, which was dated 1205, at St. Benet of Holme, Norfolk, during the reign of King John, known as 'Lackland', 1199-1216. 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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