This is an English surname of great antiquity. Widely recorded, it is said to originate in East Anglia and the county of Yorkshire, and was originally a medieval nickname for a cautious or wise man, perhaps a local village elder or even an early lawyer. However another suggestion is that given the very robust and Chaucerian humour of those far off times, it could well mean, at least in some cases, the complete reverse! The derivation is certainly from Olde English pre 7th century word 'gleaw', which does mean wise or even prudent. Whatever the original meaning, it was a popular practice in medieval England to create surnames from nicknames, and in this instance it was reinforced by the occasional use of Glew or Glue as early personal names. One example is the recording of Radulfus filius Gleu in Yorkshire, in 1219. This meant that Radulfus was the son of Glew, both having as it were, just the one name. Other early examples which show the surname recordings include: Agnes Glewe of Huntingdonshire, in the Hundred Rolls of 1273, and Peter Glew, in the Subsidy Rolls of Yorkshire, dated 1301. In the Poll Tax returns of Yorkshire in 1379, the surname is recorded as Glewe, Glwe and Glugh, whilst in 1679, Thomas Glew was a soldier under the command of Major Thomas Helmes, in the island militia of Barbados in the West Indies. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Gleu. This was dated 1168, in the Pipe Rolls of the county of Norfolk, during the reign of King Henry 11nd of England, 1154 - 1189. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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