- Recorded as Regis, Regus, Rex, Recks, Reekes, Reeks and others, this is an English surname, but one ultimately of Roman (Latin) origins, of which it has at least two. Either way it almost certainly derives from the Latin words rex or regis both meaning absolute monarch or leader, but it must be said that it is very unlikely that any British nameholder descends from a person of such stature. In most cases like the surname King it refers to an actor, one who played the part of a rex or regius in the travelling theatres of the medieval times from around the 11th century. The second origin in a sense is similar. It described a man who was regularly elected to be "King (or regius) for a day" of his village during the festivals such as Christmas, Easter and Michaelmas. Such a person was endowd with all the powers that the citizens could grant, but only for twenty four hours. If they liked the way he conducted affairs they would re-elect him at the next feast day, until eventually the status became a hereditary surname. It is also just possible that the name in the last four spellings could describes a man who lived by or worked with wreeks or reeds used mainly for roofing. Amongst the surviving church recordings are the marriage of John Rex and Debrah Chapman at St. Dunstan's Stepney, on April 4th 1650, whilst Lewis Regis was a christening witness at Sunbury on Thames on May 6th 1724. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Adam Rex. This was dated 1273, in the Hundred Rolls of landowners of Cambridgeshire, during the reign of KIng Edward 1st, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
Surnames reference. 2013.