This unusual and interesting surname is of Scottish origin, and is locational from a place so called in the parish of Liberton, in Lanarkshire. The placename is derived from the Olde English pre 7th Century "grene", green, and "shiel", a pastureland for the grazing of cattle in summer; hence "the green pastureland". 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. The placename was first recorded as "Greynchellis" in 1499, and as "Grenescheill" in 1602. The surname development since 1617 (see below) includes: John Greenscheills (1624, Eister Moderwell); Jeane Greinscheills (1655, Dalziel); and William Greenscheills (1687, Ormistoun). The modern surname can be found as Greenshields, Greenshiels, Grenshiels and Grenshields. The marriages were recorded in Scotland of Thomas Greenshields and Janet Hamilton on July 28th 1693 at Lesmahagow, Lanarkshire, and of John Greenshields and Anna Miller on July 1st 1697, also at Lesmahagow. The christening was recorded in Barony, Lanarkshire, of Archibald Greenshields on February 15th 1795. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Greinscheillis, which was dated 1617, retoured heir of William Greinscheillis, in Lanarkshire, Scotland, during the reign of King James 1 of England and V1 of Scotland, 1603 - 1625. 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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