- This is a surname of French and Huguenot protestant origins. It is first recorded in England in the late 17th and early 18th century, at a time when religious persecution of the protestants in France was at its height. As a result at least one hundred thousand people fled France, and over half came to the British Isles where their skills particularly in the growing textile industry, were the world leaders. As a result these advantages passed to the British and played a major part in the Industrial Revolution which enable the British Empire to rule much of the world for two centuries, to the anger and frustration of the rest. The recordings of the name splling includ, Grel, Grelet, Grellet, Grelot, Grelon, Grellon, Greslon, Gresle, Grelier and Grellier, although only the latter forms seems to be recorded in England in its original form. Apparently the name has three possible origins. It may be a nickname for somebody with 'grey' hair or complexion, or it may be also a nickname for a comedian, or at least a good humoured person, or finally it may be an actors name for one who played 'The fool' in the travelling theatres of this ancient times. The first church recording in England may be that of Gabriel Grellier and his wife the former Jeanne Roulet, at the French church called La Patente, in the city of London on March 10th 1703.
Surnames reference. 2013.