Recorded in several spelling forms including Grimcy, Grimsey, Grimsley, Grimsy and Grimsie, this is a surname which is generally accepted as being of English origins. It is clearly locational, although no such place appears to be recorded in any of the known (surname) spellings in England. The only near spelling is Grimsay, an island in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland. However if this island is the spiritual home of the surname, we have not been able to establish any conclusive Scottish recordings, all early recordings being found in England. In our opinion the surname is a development of the village name of Grimley, in Worcestershire, or it is from a now lost village. Grimley, recorded as "Grimanlea" in the famous Domesday Book of England for the year 1086, has the meaning of "Grima's farm", from Old English pre 7th century personal name "Grima", meaning a mask or a masked person, or even a ghost! As such it was originally a byname bestowed on male children to secure the protection of the gods at a time when the fear of the supernatural was at its height. The Old English word "leah", can describe a wood or a clearing in a wood, or even a farm, whilst the "eg" now "ey" in the modern surname, if it is not a development of "leah", may refer to an island. Early examples of the name recording taken from early surviving church registers of the post medieval period include: Frauncis, the daughter of John Grimesley, christened at Upton on Severn on September 27th 1563, Mary Grymsey who married Robert Bossock at St. James church, Clerkenwell, in the city of London, on June 7th 1612, and Robert Grimsey, who married Elizabeth Buffitt on November 11th 1759, at St Giles Cripplegate, also in the city of London.
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