This unusual and interesting surname is of Old Welsh origin, and derives from the Old Welsh personal name "Ris", Welsh "Rhys" meaning ardour. The popularity of the name is borne out by the number of surnames it has generated. The personal name appears as "Hris" (1052) in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle of Cambridgeshire, as "Rees" (1086) in the Domesday Book, and as "Res" (1198) in the Pipe Rolls of Shropshire. The surname dates back to the early 13th Century (see below), and early recordings include John Rees (1288) in the Feet of Fines, Suffolk. Variations in the spelling of the surname range from Reace, Reece, Rees, and Reese to Rhys, Rice, Rase, Raise, and Rays. London Church Records list the christening of Franncis, son of Richard Race, on September 29th 1580 at St. Botolph's, Bishopsgate, and the marriage of Willim Race to Elizabeth Coverley on November 10th 1607 at St. Dunstan's, Stepney. One James Race, aged 17 yrs., a famine emigrant, sailed from Liverpool aboard the "Broom", bound for New York, on June 1st 1846. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Res, which was dated 1203, in the Curia Regis Rolls of Lincolnshire", 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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