REYNOLDS families are found in all four provinces of Ireland, but this surname is commonest in Connacht where it is usually an anglicization of Mac Raghnaill, the name of a south County Leitrim sept which in the past has also appeared in English as McRannall and McGrannell. Elsewhere in Ireland persons name Reynolds may be of the same stock or may be descended from settlers who brought the common English surname Reynolds from England. Ireland was one of the earliest countries to evolve a system of hereditary surnames. They came into being fairly generally in the 11th century, and a few were formed before the year 1000. When the sparse Irish population began to increase it became necessary to broaden the base of personal identification by moving from single names to a more definite nomenclature. The prefix MAC was given to the father's christian name, or O to that of a grandfather or even earlier ancestor. At first the coat of arms was a practical matter which served a function on 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. Early records of the name mention Reinaldus Camerarius of the County of Suffolk in 1121-1148. William filius Reynaud was documented in County Cornwall in 1273. Walter Reynolds (d.1327) was the English prelate, the son of a Windsor baker. He was made treasurer by Edward II (1307) and bishop of Worcester in 1308. He became chancellor in 1310, and the archbishop of Canterbury in 1314, despite the opposition of monks. He later crowned Edward III in 1307. Rainaldus filius Willelmi was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Reginald Reynold of Reading, registered at Oxford University in the year 1566. Robert Reygnoldes and Jane Watts were married in London in the year of 1617. A notable bearer of the name was Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792) who was the English portrait painter, the first President of the Royal Acadamy, where he delivered his 'Discourses '.The associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884. Registered 19th May 1661 in Dublin.
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