This ancient German surname is one of the earliest recorded. This is perhaps not surprising in that it describes one of the most important occupations of the medieval period, at the very dawn of the later Industrial revolution. The name derives from an old word "runga", meaning stick or whip, and it was used in a transferred sense to describe a driver of wheeled vehicles, one who used a stick or whip, as part of his work. The American Dictionary of Surnames describes it as a nickname, and they give the origin as from the word "runico" meaning wisdom. If correct, this would indicate that the original nameholders were clerics or possibly school masters, people who gave out 'wisdom' and perhaps used sticks to enforce their authority! Unfortunately it is often impossible to apply 20th century logic and translations to 12th century (or earlier) meanings. What is certain is that the name as a surname has been around since the very beginning of surname adoption, about seven hundred years ago. These early recordings include such examples as Martin Runghe of Barth, in 1324, and Wilreich Runge, also recorded as Ronge, of Neibe, Germany, in 1487. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Hartmudus dictus Runge, which was dated 1283, the rolls and charters of Osterspai, Rheingau, during the reign of Emperor Rudolph 1st of Hapsburg, reigned 1273 - 1291. 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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