The associated coat of arms for this name are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884. That Ilk, County Berwick. This surname GREENLAW was a nickname from the Old English word 'GRENELEAF' a name given to a character who would have played a part in the pageants of Robin Hood. Surnames having a derivation from nicknames form the broadest and most miscellaneous class of surnames, encompassing many different types of origin. The most typical classes refer adjectivally to the general physical aspect of the person concerned, or to his character. Many nicknames refer to a man's size or height, while others make reference to a favoured article of clothing or style of dress. Many surnames derived from the names of animals and birds. In the Middle Ages ideas were held about the characters of other living creatures, based on observation, and these associations were reflected and reinforced by large bodies of folk tales featuring animals behaving as humans. The name is also spelt GRENLAWE, GREENLEAF, GREENLEY and GRENLEY. Early records of the name mention Johannes de Grenelef et Lora, of Yorkshire, who was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Elen Grenelef of County Somerset, was documented during the reign of Edward III. This name through early emigrations has become strong in America. William Greenlefe sailed from Gravesend in 1635 for St. Christophers. Robert Greenleafe, went as early as 1610, and settled at 'Charles Cittie in Virginia'. He married and left children. Since the dawn of civilisation the need to communicate has been a prime drive of all higher mankind. The more organised the social structure became, the more urgent the need to name places, objects and situations essential to the survival and existence of the social unit. From this common stem arose the requirements to identify families, tribes and individual members evolving into a pattern in evidence today. In the formation of this history, common usage of customs, trades, locations, patronymic and generic terms were often adopted as surnames. The demands of bureaucracy formally introduced by feudal lords in the 11th century, to define the boundaries and families within their fiefdoms, crystallized the need for personal identification and accountability, and surnames became in general use from this time onwards.
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