This English locational surname may not have a simple etymology. It probably originates from at least two places, the first being Ringwood in Hampshire, and the second a 'diminished' post medieval hamlet near Burnham on Crouch in Essex. It is our opinion that most, if not all, nameholders do originate from the East Anglia region, all early recordings being seemingly from Norfolk and Suffolk. However there have been no less than four coats of arms granted, two in East Anglia, which is logical, and one in Ireland where it is a 'settler' surname. Margaret Ringwood of Ringwood House, Kilkenny, married John Golbourne, the bishop of Kildare, in 1679. The other rather muddies the water, because it was granted in Hampshire, suggesting that some nameholders at sometime were to be found there! The surname translates as 'the chase within a boundary fence', and as such Ringwood in Hampshire is recorded in the 1086 Domesday Book in the spelling of 'Rincvude'. The Essex village is not recorded, but we have no reason to attribute a different meaning. The epi-centre of the early recordings of the surname was clearly Norwich city, and examples taken from the surviving church registers include Ann Ringwood of Covenhithe, Suffolk, on October 9th 1580, Anne Ringwood who married Roger Perte at the church of St Michael at Plea, Norwich, on November 31st 1601, and Helen Ringwood, christened at St Martins in the Field, Westminster, on March 13th 1617. Henry Ringwood married Ellinor Jollife at Newport, Isle of Wight, on August 25th 1629, whilst Ann Ringwood, married John Kercher at Hursley, Hampshire, on November 17th 1730. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Joane Ringwood, which was dated December 18th 1571, christened at Thurlton, Norfolk, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1st, known as 'Good Queen Bess', 1558 - 1603. 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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