RAYNSFORD has the associated coat of arms recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884. Registered at Stanmore-Magna, County Middlesex, Dallington, County Northampton, and County Oxford and Warwick. This locational name was from Rainford, a chapelry in the parish of Prescott, County Lancashire, so called from the Old English REGNAFORDE, literally meaning the dweller by the ford. Local names usually denoted where a man held his land, and indicated where he actually lived. Habitation names are derived from names denoting towns, villages, farmsteads or other named places, which include rivers, houses with signs on them, regions, or whole counties. The original bearer of the name who stayed in his area might be known by the name of his farm, or the locality in the parish; someone who moved to another town might be known by the name of his village; while someone who moved to another county could acquire the name of that county or the region from which he originated. Many factors contributed to the establishment of a surname system. For generations after the Norman Conquest of 1066 a very few dynasts and magnates passed on hereditary surnames, but the main of the population, with a wide choice of first-names out of Celtic, Old English, Norman and Latin, avoided ambiguity without the need for a second name. As society became more stabilized, there was property to leave in wills, the towns and villages grew and the labels that had served to distinguish a handful of folk in a friendly village were not adequate for a teeming slum where perhaps most of the householders were engaged in the same monotonous trade, so not even their occupations could distinguish them, and some first names were gaining a tiresome popularity, especially Thomas after 1170. The hereditary principle in surnames gained currency first in the South, and the poorer folk were slower to apply it. By the 14th century however, most of the population had acquired a second name. Early records of the name mention Margaret Rainforth of Winstanley, who was listed in the Wills at Chester in the year 1612, and John Rainford of Rainsford, was documented in the same Wills in the year 1673. William Rainford of Weeton, was recorded in the Lancashire Wills at Richmond in 1705, and Thomas Rainforth is mentioned in Lancashire in 1717.
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