This ancient surname of GREENSLADE is a locational name meaning 'the dweller at the green-slade' from residence beside a small strip of green in a woodland, a spot in County Devon. The name is also spelt GRINSLADE and GRENESLADE. Habitation names were originally acquired by the original bearer of the name, who, having lived by, at or near a place, would then take that name as a form of identification for himself and his family. When people lived close to the soil as they did in the Middle Ages, they were acutely conscious of every local variation in landscape and countryside. Every field or plot of land was identified in normal conversation by a descriptive term. If a man lived on or near a hill or mountain, or by a river or stream, forests and trees, he might receive the word as a family name. Almost every town, city or village in early times, has served to name many families. The earliest of the name on record appears to be Robertus de GRENESLADE who was a tenant in County Devon, circa. 1150. William de GRENSLEDE was documented in County Sussex in the year 1230, and Bartholomew de GRENESLADE was recorded in 1257. 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. A later instance of the name is recorded in 'The Standard' on October 30th, 1886. 'On October 27th, at Poltimore Church, G.G.Hick married Bessie GREENSLADE, at Stoke Canon'. In the Middle Ages heraldry came into use as a practical matter. It originated in the devices used to distinguish the armoured warriors in tournament and war, and was also placed on seals as marks of identity. As far as records show, true heraldry began in the middle of the 12th century, and appeared almost simultaneously in several countries of Western Europe.
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