This Danish, Norwegian, German and Jewish surname of GREENMAN is, with its many variants one of the most common and widespread of surnames. It was either a nickname for someone who was fond of dressing in this colour, or who had played the part of the 'Green Man' in the May Day celebrations. It was also a topographic name for someone who lived near a village green. 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 countries. The name has numerous variant spellings which include GROENEVELD, GRUN, GRIN, GREEN, GREENE, GROEN, GRUNBLATT, GRINBERG, GRUENGRAS and GRINMAN, to name but a few. 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. A notable member of the name was Guilaumme GROEN van Prinsterer (1801-76) the Dutch historian and statesman, born in Voorburg. After studying law and classics at Leiden university, he became secretary to the king's cabinet and archivist to the Dutch royal family, and edited the massive 'Arcgives de la maison d'Orange-Nassau' (1835-61). The Rose depicted in the arms is used as a distinction for the seventh son. The Distinction of Houses are used to distinguish the younger from the elder branches of a family, and to show from which line each is descended.
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