Whilst this rare surname may now be considered Scandinavian, its origins trace a torturous path back to a medieval Germanic root. The name derives from "Rhein", meaning "flow", as applied to a fast-moving "river", plus "beck", a stream, and is therefore habitational for one who dwelt on a river bank or more probably was an inhabitant of a village called Ronnebeck. This village appears in the state records of Brandenburg as early as 1483, although, as is common with many German surnames, baptismal recordings are very much later. The number of varied spellings of the surname suggest that at some date in the early 16th Century the village was "cleared" either by plague, famine, or war, and the then inhabitants scattered. These people then took as their surname the original village name whilst applying for their own variety of spelling. In Germany these forms include: Rennebeck, Rentenbeck and Rennebach, whilst recordings include, Anna Rennebeck, who married Paulus Paul at Frankenthal, Bayern, on January 19th 1734. The surname also appears at much the same time in the Danish city of Odense, the first of such recordings being Anna Kirstine Reinbeck, who married Lauritz Hyldekiar at Vor Frue, Odense, on January 20th 1769. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Heinrici Rennenbach, which was dated February 26th 1713, a christening witness at Gaubickelheim, Hessen, Germany, during the reign of King Frederick William 1 of Prussia, 1713 - 1740. 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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