This interesting surname is one of the patronymic forms of the male personal name "Richard", which is Germanic in origin and means "powerful ruler". The Old German name "Ric(h)ard" is composed of the elements "ric", power and "hard", hardy, brave, strong. The name is found occasionally in pre-Conquest Britain, but was popularized to a great extent by the Normans after the Conquest of 1066, introduced in the form of "Ricard". There are a great many variant surnames that were generated by the given name "Richard", including the patronymic forms Richards, Ritchard, Richardes, Ric(e)ards and Ricarde, which all mean "son of Richard". The surname Richard is first recorded in the Oxfordshire Hundred Rolls of 1276 as Thomas Richard. Church Recordings include Anne Richardes who was christened on January 13th 1542 at St. Andrew Hubbard with St. Mary at Hill, London, and Arthur Richardes who was christened on March 14th 1564 at St. Margaret Lothbury, London. One John Richards was an early emigrant to the New World; he left London in August 1635 bound for Virginia. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Thomas Richardes, which was dated 1327, in the "Worcestershire Subsidy Rolls", during the reign of King Edward 111, known as "The Father of the Navy", 1327 - 1377. 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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