This interesting surname of English origin with variant spellings Grealey, Greally, Grealy, Greeley, Greely, Graley, Grayley, Greedley, Gridley, Gridly, etc., is a locational name from Greasley in Nottinghamshire or Gresley in Derbyshire, deriving from the old English pre 7th Century "greosn" meaning "gravel, pebble" plus "leah" "wood, clearing", hence the "gravelly leah". The surname dates back to the late 11th Century, see below. Further recordings include one Robert Greslet (1130), "The Pipe Rolls of Yorkshire", and Robert de Gredlei (1196 - 1197), "The Pipe Rolls of Lincolnshire".Church recordings include one Ambrose, Gredley who married Elinor Tanner at St. Margeret's, Westminster on December 19th 1657, Frances, daughter of Stephen Gridley was christened at St. Olave's, Southwark, on January 13th 1660, and Pacience Gridley married John Swaine at St. Nicholas Cole Abbey London on August 1st 1699. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Albert Greslet, Cheshire, which was dated 1086, The Domesday Book, during the reign of King William 1, known as The Conqueror, 1066 - 1087. 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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