This unusual and interesting surname has three origins; firstly, it may be of Old French origin, from a nickname for a wealthy person, deriving from the Middle English "riche", a development of the Old French "riche" meaning rich, wealthy; the term was introduced into England after the Conquest of 1066. Secondly, it may be a patronymic of the medieval given name "Rich", a short form of the personal name "Richard", composed of the Old German elements "ric", power, with "hard", hardy, brave, strong. The given name was found occasionally in Anglo-Saxon England, but was popularized by the Normans after 1066. Thirdly, the surname Riches may be of Anglo-Saxon origin, from a locational or a topographical name derived from the Olde English "ric", stream, drainage channel. As a locational surname, Riches comes from any of the minor places named with this element, such as Glynde Reach in Sussex, or the now "lost" village of Riche in Leicestershire. As a topographical name, it denoted residence by a stream or channel, the plural form being the genitive case; "of Riche/Reach" or "of the stream". One Henry Riches was listed in the Norfolk Feet of Fines for 1573, and the marriage of William Ryches to Grace Tyffin was recorded at St. Mary Somerset, London, on June 30th 1588. One Captain Andrew Riches, of the "White Fox" of London, and his son Samuel, were early settlers in the New World colony in the Barbadoes; they are listed as resident there in 1679. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Richard Ryches, which was dated 1296, in the "Subsidy Rolls of Sussex", during the reign of King Edward 1, 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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