- Green, one of the most widespread of English surnames, is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and derives from the Olde English pre 7th Century "grene" meaning green, and was originally given either as a topographical name to one resident by the village green, or perhaps as a nickname to someone who habitually dressed in this colour or played the part of the "Green Man" in the May Day celebrations, green being symbolic of youth, springtime and growth. The fact that nearly every village had its "green" accounts for the prevalence of the surname which was first recorded in the late 12th Century (see below). Various early recordings include: Richard de la Grene (Norfolk, 1200); William Grene (Yorkshire, 1230); and Robert Othegreen with Henry on the Green (Worcestershire, 1274). Among the many distinguished namebearers listed in the "Dictionary of National Biography" is one Charles Green (1785 - 1870), an early aeronaut, who made the first ascent with carburetted hydrogen gas in 1821. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Geoffrey de Grene, which was dated 1188, in the "Pipe Rolls of Kent", 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.