This surname of GREENBANK was a locational name meaning 'the dweller at the green-bank'. There is a small place so called in Ulverston, Lancashire, from where the original bearer may have taken his name. Surnames derived from placenames are divided into two broad categories; topographic names and habitation names. Topographic names are derived from general descriptive references to someone who lived near a physical feature such as an oak tree, a hill, a stream or a church. Habitation names are derived from pre-existing names denoting towns, villages and farmsteads. Other classes of local names include those derived from the names of rivers, individual houses with signs on them, regions and whole counties. Early records of the name include William Grover and Alice GREENBANKE, who were married at St. Peter, Cornhill, London in the year 1642, and John GREENBANCKE of Worcester and Martha Hanson, were wed in London in the year 1661. Nicholas GREENBANK of Caton, was listed in the Wills of Richmond in the year 1595, and Alice GREENBANCKE appears in the same documents in the year 1641. It was not until the 10th century that modern hereditary surnames first developed, and the use of fixed names spread, first to France, and then England, then to Germany and all of Europe. In these parts of Europe, the individual man was becoming more important, commerce was increasing and the exact identification of each man was becoming a necessity. Even today however, the Church does not recognise surnames. Baptisms and marriages are performed through use of the Christian name alone. Thus hereditary names as we know them today developed gradually during the 11th to the 15th century in the various European countries. In the Middle Ages the Herald (old French herault) was an officer whose duty it was to proclaim war or peace, carry challenges to battle and messages between sovereigns; nowadays war or peace is still proclaimed by the heralds, but their chief duty as court functionaries is to superintend state ceremonies, such as coronations, installations, and to grant arms. Edward III (1327-1377) appointed two heraldic kings-at-arms for south and north, England in 1340. The English College of Heralds was incorporated by Richard III in 1483-84.
The arms depicted here have been quartered with GREEN and BANKS.
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