Recorded as Reckford, Retchford, Richford, Rickford, and possibly others, this is an English surname. It is locational and is one of those names which in appearance suggests that it is quite popular, but in fact is very rare. The name probably originates from Rickford, now a 'lost' medieval village near Guildford in the county of Surrey, or from Rickford, near Axminster, in Somerset. Both places probably have the same meaning of the narrow and shallow river crossing from the pre 7th century Olde English "ric-forda". Locational surnames are usually 'from' names. That is to say names given to people after they left their original village to move somewhere else, and were most easily identified by being called after their original homesteads. In this case the surname is quite well recorded in the surviving church registers of the city of London from Elizabethan times. Early examples include those of Thomas Retchford who married Sara Dowcher at St James Clerkenwell, in 1573, William Richford, who was christened at St. Mary Whitechapel, Stepney, in 1634, Charles Rickford, who was a christening witness at the famous church of St Martins in the Field, Westminster, in 1694, and Simon Reckford who married Mary Martin at St. Benets, Pauls Wharf, in 1729. 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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