This very interesting, unusual, and early surname is of English topographical origins and would have denoted one who lived at a hamlet so named. The derivation is from the Old English pre 7th Century words 'grene' meaning 'green' and 'groes' grass, but this may not have been the literal meaning. The probable meaning is an area recently cultivated with 'new' grassland, or as it originates in County Suffolk, may even refer to an area which was drained or in one way or another recovered from the sea or fen. The surname dates from the late 13th Century (see below) and all early recordings are from East Anglia. Early church recordings include Agnes Greengrass who married John Towler at Barnham, St. Gregory, Suffolk in 1611, whilst William Arkinstall and Bridget Greengrass married at St. Antholin in London in 1623 and Jacobus Greengrass was christened in St. Martin in the Fields, Westminster, on June 7th 1663. Elizabeth, daughter of William and Bridget Greengrass, was christened at Thelnetham, Suffolk on the 5th June 1677. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Richard and Alice de Grenegres, which was dated 1275, in the Hundred Rolls of Suffolk, during the reign of King Edward 1, known as 'The Hammer of the Scots', 1272 - 1307. 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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