This interesting surname, found mainly in the East Midlands and Yorkshire, is of early medieval English origin, and is an occupational name or nickname for a coppersmith. The derivation of the name is from the Middle English "grene", green, with reference to the characteristic colour of oxidized copper, and "smith", smith (a derivative of the Olde English pre 7th Century "smitan", to strike, hammer). Metal-working was one of the earliest occupations for which specialist skills were required, and its importance ensured that the term "smith" and its equivalents were perhaps the most widespread of all occupational surnames in Europe. Medieval smiths were important not only in making horseshoes, ploughshares, and other domestic articles, but above all for their skill in forging swords, other weapons, and armour. In the modern idiom the surname can be found as Greensmyth, Grenesmyth, Grenesmith, Greenesmith and Greensmith. On December 12th 1585, Willus Greensmith married Alicice Swift at Sheffield, Yorkshire, and George, son of John Greensmith, was christened at St. Botolph's, Bishopsgate, London, on May 2nd 1613. A Coat of Arms granted to the family is a green shield, on a gold fesse between three silver doves close, beaked and legged red each with a gold ear of wheat in the bill, three blue pigs of lead, the Crest being a dove as in the Arms standing on a pig of lead. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Thomas Grenesmyth, which was dated 1523, in the "Index of Wills proved in the Rochester Consistory Court", during the reign of King Henry V111, known as "Bluff King Hal", 1509 - 1547. 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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