Recorded in many spelling forms including Read, Reed, Red, Redd, Reid, Ried, Reade, Rhead, and even Wreyde, this is a surname of some controversy. It is Anglo-Scottish and therefore can best be described as "British". It has at least three possible origins. Firstly, the surname may derive from the Olde English pre 7th century word "read" meaning red, and as such was probably nationalistic for an Anglo-Saxon, as these people were often red haired or had a ruddy complexion. Early examples from this source may include William Red in the Pipe Rolls of the county of Gloucestershire in 1176, and Gilbert le Rede of Coul, Scotland in 1296.The second possibility is that the name is locational from various places such as Read in the county of Lancashire, from the Olde English word "roegheafod", meaning the land occupied by deer, or Rede in Suffolk, deriving from the word "hreod", meaning reeds as grown in a river; or the village of Reed in Hertfordshire, from the word "ryht", meaning brushwood. Ralph de Rede is recorded in the Curia Regis rolls of Hertfordshire in the year 1203. The final suggestion is that the name is topographical from the Olde English "ried" and describes somebody who lived in a clearing. Roger de la Rede is noted in the Pipe Rolls of Devonshire in the year 1208. Joseph Reid (1843 - 1917), born in Ayrshire, was the inventor of the Reid oil burner, which did so much to advance the oil industry in the United States. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Leofwine se Reade. This was dated 1016 in the records known as the "Olde English Bynames for the county of Kent", during the reign of King Canute, 1016 - 1035. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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