Surname Saturday: Reeve (and America’s first law school)

ReeveCrestThis English surname is occupational, an official one for a steward or bailiff.  According to House of Names, the name can be traced back to the Anglo-Saxon tribes of Britain, and one that was given to the member of a family who “worked as a local representative of a lord.”  The surname is derived from the Middle English word “reeve” which was derived from an Old English word, “(ge)refa”.

Early records show Sampson le Reve on the Hundred Rolls of Suffolk in 1273 and James le Reve appeared in the Calendar of Letter Books (London, 1281).  Spelling variations include: Reeve, Reeves, Reve, Reave, Reaves, Rives, Reavis and more.

In researching the Reeve surname I came across an early American with an interesting forename I had never seen before.  As it turns out, he made quite an impact on American history and the shaping of our judicial system.

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