Recorded in the North East of England from the 16th century, but rarely elsewhere, this is a locational surname. It would seem to originate from a now "lost" medieval village which may have been in the Scottish borders. Some three thousand British Isles surnames are believed to originate from now lost villages, so whilst unusual, such events are not unique. The derivation of the village name, and hence the later surname, being probably from the Olde English pre 7th century word glen meaning a valley, or an agricultural area within a valley, and either rhyd, an original Ancient British word for a ford, or ryge, a Norse-Viking word for rye, and hence a place where rye was grown. As the kingdom of Northumbria was an area controlled by the Norsemen for several centuries, a valley where rye was grown seems a reasonable assessment. Another possibility is that the surname is a developed form of the village name Glenridding. This place is also found in Northumbria, and the only one in the Britsh Isles which in sound and spelling is anything like Glenwright. Over the centuries spelling has at best been erratic, and local dialects very thick, and this in turn this has lead to the development of "sounds like" surname spellings. Early examples of the surname recordings taken from surviving church registers include: Gilbert Glenwright of Haydon Bridge, Northumberland, a village which was the early epi-centre of the surname, on June 28th 1654, and Joseph Glenwright at the same place, on September 25th 1659. A later recording from another popular area for the name was that of Nichlas Glenwright of Haltwhistle, Northumberland, on October 18th 1772.
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