The surname of REECE was a baptismal name 'the son of Rees' an ancient Welsh personal name. Early records of the name mention HRIS (without surname) who was listed as a tenant in the Domesday Book of 1066. Resus filius Griffini, was documented in Durham in the year 1178. William Rys was documented in County Somerset, during the reign of Edward III. Later instances of the name mention Edward Reece of County Hereford, who registered at Oxford University in the year 1601. Giles Rhys (combmaker) was documented in Chester in 1647. John Rhys and Mary Williams were married at St. George's, Hanover Square, London in 1790. Following the crusades in Europe in the 11th, 12th and 13th centuries, a need was felt for a family name to replace the one given at birth, or in addition to it. This was recognized by those of noble birth, and particularly by those who went on the Crusades, as it added prestige and practical advantage to their status. At first the coat of arms was a practical matter which served a function of the battlefield and in tournaments. With his helmet covering his face, and armour encasing the knight from head to foot, the only means of identification for his followers, was the insignia painted on his shield, and embroidered on his surcoat, the draped and flowing garment worn over the armour. The associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884. A notable member of the name mentions James Rice (1843-82) who was the English novelist born in Northampton. He studied at Queen's College, Cambridge, drifted into literature, and was proprietor and editor of 'Once a Week' (1868-72). From 1872 he was involved in writing novels with Sir Walter Besant. This Old Welsh personal name meaning 'Fiery Warrior' was the name of the last ruler of an independent kingdom of Wales, Rhys ap Tewder who died in 1093 unsuccessfully opposing the last Norman advance. In many parts of central and western Europe, hereditary surnames began to become fixed at around the 12th century, and have developed and changed slowly over the years. As society became more complex, and such matters as the management of tenure, and in particular the collection of taxes were delegated to special functionaries, it became imperative to distinguish a more complex system of nomenclature to differentiate one individual from another.
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