Recorded as Grealis, Gresley and Grealish, and many others as shown below, this interesting and unusual name is medieval English, but of Norman French origins. First introduced into Britain after the famous Conquest of 1066, it is a good example of that large group of European surnames that were gradually created by the habitual use of a nickname. In this case the nickname was originally given to someone with a pitted or pock- marked face, possibly to some of those few survivors of the frequent epidemics of the plague in the Middle Ages in Europe. The name derives from the Old Norman French word "greslet", meaning pitted or scarred, and is itself derived from the very early Germanic word "gresle", or hailstone. The development of the surname includes: Robert Greilli of Bedfordshire in 1133, Alexander Grisle of Hampshire in 1148, Albert Gresley of Norfolk in 1153 and Robert Grelay of Lancashire in 1230. The modern surname has at least eighteen variant forms, including Grealey, Grayley, Greasley, Grisley, Grellis and Grealish with as an example John Grealish who married Margaret Ann Brown being recorded in Bury, Lancashire on October 8th 1876. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Albert Greslet. This was dated 1086, in the "Domesday Book" of Cheshire, during the reign of King William 1st, known as "The Conqueror", 1066 - 1087. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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