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About the study
My link with the surname REYNISH is through my great grandmother Eleanor Jane REYNISH, born Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire, Wales in 1846, daughter & 6th child of William and Sarah (nee POWELL). Eleanor married Henry HEARD (my maiden surname) in 1864 in Llanfabon, Glamorganshire, Wales. Upon his death she lived with Henry TREASURE and took his name. Yet she died as Eleanor HEARD in 1899 in Chelsea, London. UK
I believe all REYNISHs seem to originate from Pembrokeshire in West Wales but I am happy to be given alternative ideas.
The variants registered with the Guild are RANICH, RAYNISH, RENISH, RENNISH, RHENICH and RHENISH.
However I have also come across RAYNICH, RENIS, RENNESH, RENNICH, RENNIS, REYNICH, RHYNISH, RINISH, RINNICH, RINNISH, RYNICH, RYNIS, RYNISH. I am now advised by experts in Pembrokeshire to include GREENISH & variants but to date (Jan 2018) I have not included these.
The origin is open to discussion although all researchers who contact me have the oral tradition that it is originally a Norman/French surname.
Some say it comes from the Flemish in Belgium. Some say it is Norman in origin and is linked with the county of Essex in UK but this is based on the assumption that the surname RAINES is a variant. It may be a link with wine called RHENISH...or not!
To date (Jan 2018) the surname has not been found in any surname dictionary-not even in the comprehensive dictionary produced by John & Sheila Rowlands on Welsh surnames.
There is an heritage of Flemish chimneys in Pembrokeshire (see Wikipedia). Also from a biography of Henry 1st I found he allowed immigrants from the Low Countries, flooded out of their homes, to settle in Northern England (there is a RENNISH farm in Yorkshire!) and then commanded their help to colonise the area around the Cleddau Estuary to enable him to tame the unruly Welsh! An informative article can be found here:
Dyfed FHS have several members researching other Norman/Flemish names with this same oral tradition.
Historical occurrences of the name
The most famous ancestor (so far) is George Edward Crowther REYNISH (1836 to 1924) who emigrated to New Zealand via Australia and was responsible for the large community of REYNISH names in New Zealand.
For football fans, I have recently discovered (via Twitter!) that Edgar Benajmin REYNISH was Chairman of Stoke on Trent football club from 1914 to 1924. Any more information welcomed. Anyone interested in American Football please see Kyle REYNISH on Wikipedia.
Also I must not forget Timothy REYNISH, the internationally renowned composer and conductor whose biography can be see on
In 1881 census there were 167 persons recorded. The highest concentration of the REYNISH surname was in Pembrokeshire (77), moving out to Glamorgan (45), Monmouthshire (10), Gloucestershire (7), Wiltshire (5), Lancashire (7), London, Essex and Kent (14). Two were supposed to be in Yorkshire but not found yet!
Hopefully more analysis will be attempted once all the REYNISH census material is published on this site.
To date (Aug 3 2009) I have uploaded 1841,1851,1861,1871,1881,1901 and part of 1911 censuses.
Distribution of the name
'Scotland's People' website has been searched but there are no births. marriages or deaths in Scotland since Civil Registration began there in 1855. However one marriage has been found in Musselburgh in 1821 between Martha RENISH (father's name John) and Thomas THOMSON.
It is known from various websites that there are descendants in New Zealand, Australia and the United States. The currently most newsworthy of these being Kyle REYNISH, goalkeeper with UC Santa Barbara in California and Salt Lake City and recently signed to New York (Feb 2013)
I hold copies of the indexes in England and Wales for Births. Marriages and Deaths from 1837 to 1911.
I also have details of Probate (Wills and Administrations) from 1858 to 1996. I have many wills before 1858. This information has been placed on the Guild's archive for REYNISH.
All England & Wales censuses have been collected.
I do have some parish register material for baptisms, marriages and burials before 1837. I also have some family trees but these are not yet verified for accuracy.
I have added to the archive (Aug 2013) Marriages from 1619 to 1836, Burials from 1592 to 1837, Baptisms 1602 to 1837. There are gaps still to be filled but be aware that the parish registers are not complete or missing so information has to be gleaned from wills and other documents.
PLEASE contact me for any information which I will freely give to you. If you can add details to anything placed on the GOONS REYNISH archive please let me know so that we can build a significant database together. Thank you to those who have already helped me.