This rare surname is of medieval 13th century English origin. It is a dialectal transposed spelling of the village name Grimston, of which a number of examples occur, mainly in the north of England, and specifically Yorkshire. It is a curious fact that whilst the place names are, and always have been recorded as 'Grimston', the surname in the earliest recordings (see below) appeared with an 'n' replacing 'm'. The translation is from either the Olde English 'gren' meaning green and 'stan' - a stone, thus a landmark or perhaps parish boundary stone, covered in moss, the alternative suggestion being that 'Grim' was a personal name of (Germanic) Anglo-Saxon pre 8th century origins.Locational and topographical surnames were amongst the earliest to be created, as natural and to some extent man made features in the landscape provided obvious and convenient means of identification. Examples of the early surname recordings include William de Grinneston of York, in the 1273 Hundred Rolls, and Johannes de Grymmeston in the 1379 Poll Tax register. Thomas de Grymston appears in the same 1379 Poll Tax rolls whilst in 1321 William de Grimeston is recorded as being a freeman of the city of York. Later church recordings include such examples as Albert Grinnston, christened on September 13th 1604, at the church of St. Katherine's by the Tower (of London), and James Grinson, christened at St Mary Whitechapel, Stepney, on December 1st 1768. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Adam de Grinneston, which was dated 1273, the hundred rolls of the county of Yorkshire, during the reign of King Edward 1st, known as 'The hammer of the Scots', 1272 - 1307. 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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