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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2015

Where did the Scottish Greenlee family come from? What is the Scottish Greenlee family crest and coat of arms? When did the Greenlee family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Greenlee family history?

The Scottish surname Greenlee is a habitational name taken on one of the places named Greenlees, in Lanarkshire. The place name comes from the Scots words "gre-ne" meaning "green," and "ley(s)," meaning a "a meadow."


Spelling variations of this family name include: Greenlees, Greenleaf, Greenleas, Greenles and others.

First found in Lanarkshire (Gaelic: Siorrachd Lannraig) a former county in the central Strathclyde region of Scotland, now divided into the Council Areas of North Lanarkshire, South Lanarkshire, and the City of Glasgow, where they held a family seat from very ancient times, some say well before the Norman Conquest and the arrival of Duke William at Hastings in 1066 A.D.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Greenlee research. Another 289 words (21 lines of text) covering the years 1574, 1689, 1729, 1820, 1696, 1354 and 1421 are included under the topic Early Greenlee History in all our PDF Extended History products.


Another 37 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Greenlee Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Greenlee Settlers in United States in the 19th Century

  • George Greenlee, who arrived in Washington County, Pennsylvania in 1844
  • J. R. Greenlee, aged 35, who settled in America from Glasgow, Scotland, in 1892
  • W. B. Greenlee, aged 21, who settled in America, in 1892
  • Mrs. R. L. Greenlee, aged 45, who emigrated to America, in 1894

Greenlee Settlers in United States in the 20th Century

  • Robert Greenlee, aged 22, who emigrated to the United States from Belfast, in 1905
  • Mary Greenlee, aged 41, who settled in America from Belfast, in 1906
  • Clara Greenlee, aged 3, who landed in America from Belfast, in 1906
  • John Greenlee, aged 38, who landed in America, in 1907
  • William Greenlee, aged 20, who landed in America from Armagh, in 1907

Greenlee Settlers in Canada in the 20th Century

  • Helen Greenlee, aged 33, who settled in Toronto, Canada, in 1923
  • Nellie M. Greenlee, aged 34, who emigrated to Toronto, Canada, in 1923


  • Samuel Elder "Sam" Greenlee Jr. (1930-2014), African-American writer, best known for his novel The Spook Who Sat by the Door, chosen as The Sunday Times Book of the Year (1969)
  • William K. Greenlee, American Democratic Councilman-at-Large on the City Council of Philadelphia
  • Bob Greenlee, American politician, Mayor of Boulder, Colorado from 1998 to 1999
  • William Augustus "Gus" Greenlee, African-American businessman
  • David Greenlee (b. 1960), American voice actor
  • James Greenlee (1878-1951), Scottish international rugby union captain and educationlist
  • Donald "Don" Greenlee (b. 1875), Scottish professional footballer
  • Duncan Greenlee (1899-1966), English writer, theosophist and educationist
  • Gavin Greenlee (1930-1983), Australian poet


The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Viresco
Motto Translation: I flourish.


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  1. Bradford, William. History of Plymouth Plantation 1620-1647 Edited by Samuel Eliot Morrison 2 Volumes. New York: Russell and Russell, 1968. Print.
  2. Leyburn, James Graham. The Scotch-Irish A Social History. Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 1962. Print. (ISBN 0807842591).
  3. Scarlett, James D. Tartan The Highland Textile. London: Shepheard-Walwyn, 1990. Print. (ISBN 0-85683-120-4).
  4. Leeson, Francis L. Dictionary of British Peerages. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1986. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-1121-5).
  5. Prebble, John. The Highland Clearances. London: Secker & Warburg, 1963. Print.
  6. Hinde, Thomas Ed. The Domesday Book England's Heritage Then and Now. Surrey: Colour Library Books, 1995. Print. (ISBN 1-85833-440-3).
  7. Moncrieffe, Sir Ian of That Ilk and David Hicks. The Highland Clans The Dynastic Origins, Cheifs and Background of the Clans. New York: C.N. Potter, 1968. Print.
  8. Burke, John Bernard Ed. The Roll of Battle Abbey. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  9. Dorward, David. Scottish Surnames. Glasgow: Harper Collins, 1995. Print.
  10. Magnusson, Magnus. Chambers Biographical Dictionary 5th edition. Edinburgh: W & R Chambers, 1990. Print.
  11. ...

The Greenlee Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Greenlee Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 17 April 2015 at 12:18.

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