Recorded as Rice, Ryce, Rhys, Reasce, Reece, Rees and Reese, this is regarded as a Welsh surname but is equally English. It originates from the pre 7th century Olde English personal name Ris or Rhys, meaning "ardour or sometimes "fiery warrior". The name first appears as "Hris" in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles for the county of Cambridgeshire, in the year 1052, and as Rees in the Domesday Book of Cheshire, dated 1086. It was also the name borne by the last ruler of an independent Kingdom of Wales, Rhys ap Tewder, who died in 1093, after unsuccessfully opposing the Norman advance. The surname was first recorded at the beginning of the 13th Century (see below), and other early recordings include: John Rees, who appeared in the 1288 Fine Court Rolls of Suffolk, and Walter Rys, who was recorded in the Subsidy Rolls of Worcestershire, dated 1327. In 1536, Richard Rice or Price was the abbot of Conway in Wales, John Ryce appears in the Hearth Tax rolls of Suffolk in 1524, whilst on August 29th 1591, Griphin Rice and Agnes Careless were married at St. Margaret's Church, Westminster. An interesting namebearer was Edmund Ignatius Rice (1762 - 1844), who founded the (Irish) Christian Brothers Order in County Waterford in 1808. A coat of arms of the family has the blazon of a silver shield charged with an erminois chevron cotised black between three ravens. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Res. This was dated 1203, in the Pipe Rolls of Lincolnshire, during the reign of King John of England, 1199 - 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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