This unusual and interesting name, now found chiefly in Lancashire, is of Old French origin, introduced into England by the Normans after the Conquest of 1066. It can be either a metonymic occupational surname for a maker or seller of swords and lances, or a nickname for a spearman, a skilled swordsman, or perhaps for the winner of a race in which the lance set up as a winning-post was given as a prize. The derivation in all cases is from the Old French "gleive, glaive", from the Latin "gladius", sword, lance, in Middle English "gleyve, gleve".The surname development includes William Gleiue (1227, Bedfordshire), and William Gleue (1283, Suffolk); early recordings of names with the modern "v" sound are invariably spelt with a "u". The modern surname can be found as Gleave, Glave, Gleaves and Glaves. Among the recordings of the name in Lancashire is that of the marriage of Thomas Gleave and Ann Erelam in Warrington, on November 9th 1600. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Glaiue, which was dated 1202, in the "Norfolk Feet of Fines", during the reign of King John, known as "Lackland", 1199 - 1216. 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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