This long-established surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is primarily a locational name from any of the various places in northern England and Scotland named with the Olde English pre 7th Century "grene", green (a widespread first element in placenames), and "heafod", head, used in various transferred senses such as "headland, summit, upper end, promontory". These places include: Greenhead, an ecclesiastical district, north west of Haltwhistle, in Northumberland, recorded as "le Greneheued" in 1290; the hamlet of Greenhead in the West Riding of Yorkshire; and minor places thus called in the Chapel-en-le-Frith rural district of Derbyshire, and in the Auckland rural district of Durham. The lands of Greenhead in the parish of Innerleithen, Peeblesshire, is the primary source of the Scottish surname, and to a lesser extent, Grenheid near Kelso in Roxburghshire. Locational surnames, such as this, were originally given to local landowners, and the lord of the manor, and especially as a means of identification to those who left their birthplace to settle elsewhere. Occasionally, Greenhead may have originated as a nickname for a hunter or forester who habitually wore a green hood as in Robert Grenehod (Suffolk, 1221). In 1423, one John Grenehed was noted in Wills Records of Norwich, and on March 13th 1588, Margaret, daughter of John Greenhead, was christened at Berwick upon Tweed, Northumberland. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert de la Greneheued, which was dated 1290, in "A Calendar of Documents relating to Scotland", during the reign of Margaret of Norway, Ruler of Scotland, 1286 - 1290. 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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