- This interesing name has two possible origin. The first of these is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational surname from any of the numerous minor places called "Greenfield". These are all derived from the Olde English pre 7th Century "grene", green and "feld", pasture, open country, land cleared of forest but not yet cultivated. This is the source for the following early recording of the surname. Peter de Grenefeld (1242, Suffolk). The second possible origin for the modern surname, found as Grenfell, Greenfield, Grenville and Granville, is Norman, another locational name from any of various places in Normandy called "Grainville", from the Germanic personal name "Guarin", guard, and "ville", settlement. The Register of the Freeman of the City of York records one William de Grenfell in 1363. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Gerard de Grenvill, which was dated 1161, in the "Berkshire Pipe Rolls", during the reign of King Henry 11, known as "The Builder of Churches", 1154 - 1189. 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.
Surnames reference. 2013.