This is an ancient and noble surname recorded in many forms. These include Roderick (English), Rodiger (German), Rodriguez (Spanish), and Rodrigues (Portugese), as examples of popular surnames. There are apparently two quite separate origins, although with curious similarities which suggest a possible common source in pre-history. The first is from the ancient Gaelic-Breton compound "Rhyd-derch" which translates as "famous chief", a meaning which no doubt contributed to its early popularity. In the Middle Ages a secondary meaning was "the red haired one", although this in itself may also have harked back to the original meaning.The second origin is Germanic, from the pre 5th century, when German tribes, particularly the Vizigoths sweptd down into Spain and Portugal. They left behind many examples of their names, of which this is one of the most popular. The derivation is from 'hrod' meaning renown and 'ric' - power, a not dissimilar translation to the Gaelic.The name was at first baptismal and pagan, although at later times after the 7th century it became closely associated with the early Christians. The first authenticated recording is believed to be that of Rhodri Mawr, or Roderic the Great, King of Wales, who died in 877 a.d., however this was not a surname. Early examples of these taken from church and civil registers include Christobal Rodriguez de Leon in 1536, and Juan Rodriguez de Santos, in 1662, at Valladolid, Spain. The coat of arms has the bl;azon of quarterly, red and gold, in one and four an eagle displayed in gold, in two and three, three fleur de lis in blue. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Heinrich Rodigerus, which was dated 1260, in the charters of the city of Lubeck, Germany, during the reign of Emperor Alonso X of the German Empire, 1257 - 1273. 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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