The surname of GRISWOLD was derived from the Old Norman 'griss' an occupational name meaning 'a keeper of pigs'. The small villages of Europe, or Royal and Noble households, even large religious dwellings and monasteries, gave rise to many family names, which reflected the occupation or profession of the original bearer of the name. The name spelt 'gris' is also derived from a French spelling meaning "grey" or "grey-haired". The name is also spelt GRISS, GRISTOLD, GRISSWOLD and GRISWOLT. Originally the coat of arms identified the wearer, either in battle or in tournaments. Completely covered in body and facial armour the knight could be spotted and known by the insignia painted on his shield, and embroidered on his surcoat, the draped garment which enveloped him. Early records of the name mention Eustace Gris, 1176 County Kent. Nicholas le Gris, was bailiff of Norwich in the year 1259. Robert le Gris, 1198 Norfolk. Johannes Gryse was listed in the Yorkshire Poll tax of 1379. During the Middle Ages, when people were unable to read or write signs were needed for all visual identification. For several centuries city streets in Britain were filled with signs of all kinds, public houses, tradesmen and even private householders found them necessary. This was an age when there were no numbered houses, and an address was a descriptive phrase that made use of a convenient landmark. At this time, coat of arms came into being, for the practical reason that men went into battle heavily armed and were difficult to recognise. It became the custom for them to adorn their helmets with distinctive crests, and to paint their shields with animals and the like. Coats of arms accompanied the development of surnames, becoming hereditary in the same way. Other records include Leticia Grise of Yorkshire, who was recorded in the year 1317 and Thomas Grys of Sussex appears in the year 1327. Walter Griss was recorded in County Lancashire in 1337. In many parts of central and western Europe, hereditary surnames began to become fixed at around the 12th century, and have developed and changed slowly over the years. As society became more complex, and such matters as the management of tenure, and in particular the collection of taxes were delegated to special functionaries, it became imperative to distinguish a more complex system of nomenclature to differentiate one individual from another.
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