Recorded as Rigg, Rigge, the diminutives Riggey and Righy, and the patronymics Riggs and Rigges, this is a very old English surname. It is residential for someone who lived at a place called Ridge, such as the village of Ridge in Hampshire, or who lived on the ridge of a hill. The derivation is from the Olde English pre 7th century word "hrycg" or the Norse Viking "hyrggr", both of which developed into the Middle English word "rigge". Locational place names and topographical features provided useful and obvious distinguishing surnames in the Middle Ages, and these surnames ranged from such as Tree, which was owing to residence close by a conspicuous parish or even county boundary marked by a tree, to Hill, or Bridge as examples. These include the marriage between Thomas Ridge and Jane Waters at St James Clerkenwell in the city of London on February 28th 1620, Joseph Righy at St Mary-le Bone on December 10th 1806, and James Riggey, who was christened at St Alphage, Greenwich, on February 10th 1865. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Geoffrey de la Rigge, which was dated 1166, in the Hampshire Pipe Rolls, during the reign of King Henry 11, known as the Builder of Churches, 1154 - 1189. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was often 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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