Last name: Greene

Recorded in the spellings of Green and Greene, this is one of the most widespread of English, and sometimes Irish, surnames. It is usually of Olde English and Anglo-Saxon pre 7th century origins, and derives from the word "grene" meaning green. It has a nunber of possible origins. It may be topographical for a person resident by the village green, or it can be a "status nickname" for a young man who played the part of the mystic and fertile "Green Man" or "Jack in the Green", in the medieval and later May Day celebrations. In this context "green" was symbolic of youthful ardour, springtime and the growth of nature. Sometimes the surname can be of Irish origins, and a 16th century anglicised translation and spelling of the ancient Gaelic given name "Uaithne". Examples of the early recordings taken from authentic rolls, registers and charters of the Middle Ages, the birth of surnames as we understand them, include: Richard de la Grene of the county of Norfolk in the year 1200; William Grene in the Hundred Rolls of Yorkshire in 1230; Robert Othegreen, and Henry on the Green, both of Worcestershire, in 1274. Among the many distinguished namebearers listed in the "Dictionary of National Biography" are Charles Green (1785 - 1870), an early aeronaut, who made the first ascent with a hydrogen gas balloon in 1821. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Geoffrey de Grene. This was dated 1188, in the "Pipe Rolls" of the county of Kent", during the reign of King Henry 11 of England. He was known as "The Builder of Churches". 1154 - 1189. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.

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