There are several potential origins for this surname, recorded in this spelling in Spain, France and England. It is quite impossible to separate one from another, owing to the culture overlap in the past one thousand years. The most likely and popular explanation is that the name is a development of the original Roman (Latin) pre Christian 'rex' through the later 8th century a.d. Frankish-Norman 'rey' and meaning 'the king'. However if this was the case, then the name is either a nickname for a person who had a kingly manner, or more likely, one who played the part of a king in the many pageants and festivals which abounded in the 13th century. The actual surname 'King' is one of the most popular of all Anglo-Saxons surnames. A second explanation for this surname is that it is topographical and describes a person who lived at a 'rea'. This was a piece of hard ground within a marsh, and the word seems to have been used throughout Northern Europe and Spain. Early examples of the surname recordings in California include Juana Reyes at Misson San Carlos, Moneterey, on December 27th 1786, Maria Dominguez Reyes at San Gabriel, Los Angeles, on January 16 1816, and the patriotically named America Ray, who married the equally patriotic Thomas Jefferson Bidwell, at Butte, California, on December 20th 1859. The coat of arms has the blazon of a blue field charged with three gold trefoils, and a red chief with a gold knights spur pierced. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Ralph de la Reye, which was dated 1279, in the Hundred Rolls of the county of Oxford, England, during the reign of King Edward 1st, known as 'The hammer of the Scots', 1272 - 1307. 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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