Recorded in a number of spellings including Rich, Riche, and diminutives Richen, Richin, Riching, Richings, Ricing, as well as patronymics Riches, Richens, Richins, Riching, Richings, and possibly others, this is an English surname. It has at least three possible origins. Firstly, it may be Old French, and a nickname for a wealthy person from the pre 10th century "riche" meaning rich or wealthy; the term being introduced into England after the famous Conquest of 1066. Secondly, it may be a patronymic of the medieval given name "Rich". This is a short form of the personal name "Richard", of Old German origins and meaning 'Strong and powerful'. This name was found occasionally in Anglo-Saxon England, but was popularized by the Normans after 1066. Thirdly, the surname could be residential and if so it derives from the Olde English word "ric", meaning a stream or channel, as in the now "lost" village of Riche in Leicestershire. Early examples of recordings include Henry Richens in the tax register known as the 'Feet of Fines' for Norfolk in the year 1373, and the marriage of William Ryches to Grace Tyffin at St. Mary Somerset, London, on June 30th 1588, and John Richings, at St Mary Whitechapel in the city of London, on October 8th 1606, and John Richings who married Elizabeth Ely at St Dunstans in the East, Stepney, on July 18th 1765. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Richard Ryches. This was dated 1296, in the Tax Subsidy Rolls of Sussex, during the reign of King Edward 1st of England, 1272 - 1307. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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