Recorded in England as Rider and Ryder, and in Germany as Retter and Ritter, this is a surname of two possible meanings. The first is from the Anglo-Saxon and Germanic pre 7th century word "ridere", itself from ridan, meaning to ride, and as such an occupational surname given originally to a mounted warrior or 'cnit', the modern knight. In England after the Norman Conquest of 1066, and the introduction of the feudal system, rider or ryder described a messenger, whilst knight became a status name and described a landed tenant, one who was bound to serve his lord as a mounted soldier.Job- descriptive surnames originally denoted the actual occupation of the namebearer, and later became hereditary. The second possible origin of the modern surname is from the word "ried or ryd", found in both Britain and Germany, and meaning a clearing in a wood. When used with the agent suffix "-er", they became topographical denoting residence in or by such a clearing. Topographical surnames were among the earliest created, since both natural and man-made features in the landscape provided easily recognisable distinguishing names in the small communities of the Middle Ages. The first recorded spelling of the family name anywhere is believed to be that of Thomas le Rider, which was dated 1204, in the Assize Court Rolls of Yorkshire, during the reign of King John, 1199 - 1216, and in Germany that of Henricus Ritherus of Worms in the year 1216. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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