This interesting surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and has two possible sources. Firstly, the surname may be locational from a place thus called in Preston, Lancashire. The placename derives from the Olde English pre 7th Century "graefe", grove, brushwood, thicket. Locational surnames were developed when former inhabitants of a place moved to another area, usually to seek work, and were best identified by the name of their birthplace. Secondly, the surname may have been topographical for a "dweller by the grove", from the same derivation as before. Topographical surnames were among the earliest created, since both natural and man-made features in the landscape provided easily recognisable distinguishing names in the small communities of the Middle Ages. Richard del Greues is noted in the 1246 Assize Rolls of Lancashire and Richard de Greves is listed in the 1259 Assize Rolls of Cheshire. In the modern idiom the surname can be found as Greave, Greve, Greaves, Greves and Greeves. On October 17th 1585, Thomas Greaves married Jone Gibbes at St. Dunstan's, Stepney, London, and John Greaves married Susan Malter at Limehouse, London, on April 16th 1597. A Coat of Arms granted to the family depicts a gold eagle displayed, armed and langued red, on a shield divided per bend green and red, the Crest being a gold demi eagle displayed, winged and langued red. The Motto, "A quila non captat muscas", translates as, "The eagle catcheth not flies". The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Geoffrey de la Greue, which was dated 1203, in the "Pipe Rolls of Leicestershire", 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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