This interesting surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational name from Gresley in Derbyshire, recorded as "Griseleia" in the 1130 Pipe Rolls, or from Greasley in Nottinghamshire, recorded as "Griseleia" in the Domesday Book of 1086. The placename derives from the Olde English pre 7th Century "greosn", gravel, with "leah", wood, clearing; hence "gravelly clearing". Locational surnames were developed when former inhabitants of a place moved to another area, usually to seek work, and were best identified by the name of their irthplace. William de Greseleia is noted in the Staffordshire Chartulary (1130). The surname may also be of Norman origin, introduced into England after the Conquest of 1066, and is an example of that large group of European surnames that were gradually created by the habitual use of a nickname. In this case the name was originally given to someone with a pitted or pock-marked face, possibly to some of those few survivors of the frequent epidemics of plague in the Middle Ages in Europe. The name derives from the Old Norman-French "gresle", "greslet", pitted, scarred. Albert Gresley is listed in the Records of St. Benet of Holme, Norfolk (1153). The surname can also be found as Gresley and Gresly. On February 15th 1633, Elizabeth Greasley married Thomas Ward at Radford, Nottinghamshire. The Coat of Arms most associated with the family is a shield vaire ermine and red, the Crest being an ermine lion passant, armed, langued and collared gold. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Albert Greslet, which was dated 1086, in the "Domesday Book of Cheshire", during the reign of King William 1, known as "The Conqueror", 1066 - 1087. 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.

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