Recorded in several spelling forms of which the most popular are Retallack and Retallick, this is a Cornish locational surname, and probably of pre 10th century Olde English or Breton origins. It derives from the place Retallack, near St Columb Major, or Retallick, near Constantine. The meaning of the name is "the ford at the steep slope" from the ancient words res (a ford) and talek, a steep slope. English locational surnames were by their very nature, usually given either to the lord of the manor and his descendants, or to villagers who left their original homes and moved elsewhere. It being then, and to some extent remains so in the 20th century, that the easiest form of identification of a "stranger" is to call him or her by the name of the place from whence they came. However in old Celtic and Gaelic societies these rules did not apply, society being based upon the "clan", and the clan enveloping the society. As a result everybody had the same surname, but at local level they introduced sub-names, usually nicknames, to distinguish each other. These sub-names are not however reflected in the church registers recordings, which is rather sad. Early examples of this surname include Thomas Retallick of Padstow, on February 24th 1760, and Charity Retallack, the daughter of Henry Retallack, christened at Constantine, where one might have expected the spelling to be Retallick, on October 26th 1806. The first recording may be that of Phillep Retallecke, christened at St Columb Major, Cornwall, on May 24th 1573. This was during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1st, 1558 - 1603.
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