Greenlay History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Of all the Anglo-Saxon names to come from Britain, Greenlay is one of the most ancient. The name is a result of the original family having lived in Greenhalg in Kirkham and Greenhalg Castle in Garstang. The surname Greenlay originally derived from greene as n the village greene which was the center or main square of each region. Many inhabitants in various counties adopted this surname as part of their family's nomenclature. The surname Greenlay is a topographic surname, which was given to a person who resided near a physical feature such as a hill, stream, church, or type of tree. Habitation names form the other broad category of surnames that were derived from place-names. They were derived from pre-existing names for towns, villages, parishes, or farmsteads. Other local names are derived from the names of houses, manors, estates, regions, and entire counties. As a general rule, the greater the distance between an individual and their homeland, the larger the territory they were named after. For example, a person who only moved to another parish would be known by the name of their original village, while people who migrated to a different country were often known by the name of a region or country from which they came.

Early Origins of the Greenlay family

The surname Greenlay was first found in Shropshire where Richard de Grenhal was listed in the Pipe Rolls of 1230. A few years later, William de Grenol was listed in the Assize Rolls for Lancashire in 1246, as was Matill de Greenhalgh, William de Grenolf, de Grenholl in the Subsidy Rolls for 1332. [1]

Early History of the Greenlay family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Greenlay research. Another 172 words (12 lines of text) covering the years 1246, 1576, 1591, 1671, 1611, 1658, 1648, 1652, 1655, 1658, 1615, 1679, 1669, 1740, 1646, 1708, 1644, 1676, 1644, 1651 and 1599 are included under the topic Early Greenlay History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Greenlay Spelling Variations

The first dictionaries that appeared in the last few hundred years did much to standardize the English language. Before that time, spelling variations in names were a common occurrence. The language was changing, incorporating pieces of other languages, and the spelling of names changed with it. Greenlay has been spelled many different ways, including Greenhalgh, Greenhow, Greenhough, Greenhall and others.

Early Notables of the Greenlay family (pre 1700)

Distinguished members of the family include William Greenhill (1591-1671), an English nonconformist clergyman from Oxfordshire, independent minister, and member of the Westminster Assembly; Thomas Greenhill (1611?-1658), an English colonial administrator, one of the early pioneers of the East India Company and the Agent of Madras for two terms (1648-1652) and (1655-1658); Elizabeth Greenhill, (1615-1679), who bore 39 children alive, and baptised, the last of whom was Thomas Greenhill (1669?-1740), English surgeon to Henry Howard, 7th Duke of Norfolk; Henry Greenhill (1646-1708), Agent-General at...
Another 83 words (6 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Greenlay Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Migration of the Greenlay family

Thousands of English families in this era began to emigrate the New World in search of land and freedom from religious and political persecution. Although the passage was expensive and the ships were dark, crowded, and unsafe, those who made the voyage safely were rewarded with opportunities unavailable to them in their homeland. Research into passenger and immigration lists has revealed some of the very first Greenlays to arrive in North America: William Greenough, (another variant), a sea Captain from Lancashire, settled in Boston in 1669; Adam, Edward, James, John, Joseph, Peter, Robert and William Greenhalgh all settled in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania between 1832 and 1880.


Contemporary Notables of the name Greenlay (post 1700) +

  • Michael R. Greenlay (b. 1968), Brazilian-born, Canadian former National Hockey League player who played for the Edmonton Oilers in 1986
  • Charles Edwin Greenlay (1899-1984), Canadian politician who served in the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba from 1943 to 1959


  1. ^ Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)


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