Greenlees History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The Scottish surname Greenlees 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." [1] [2]

Early Origins of the Greenlees family

The surname Greenlees was first found in Berwickshire. [3]

"[Greenlaw, Berwickshire] is supposed to have derived its name from the situation of the ancient village on one of those conical eminences of which there are several in the parish, which eminence, from its superior verdure, obtained the appellation of the Green Law." [4]

"This is the name of an old family in Berwickshire, derived from their lands there. They may have been an offshoot from the Dunbars. William de Grenlawa, c. 1180. An agreement between the abbot of Kelso and Roland de Grenelawe regarding the chapel was made c. 1200. Magister William de Grenlau, a churchman, witnessed a charter by Walter, bishop of Glasgow, c. 1208-18, and in 1221 was one of a number appointed to settle a dispute between the churches of Glasgow and Kelso, and c. 1221-31 witnessed the grant of the church of Lympetlaw to Kelso Abbey. In 1233 he witnessed resignation of the lands of Eduluestun to the church of Glasgow. William of Greenlaw, son of Roland, son of William, witnessed Melrose documents of 1236-37, and held lands in Hawington of Robert de Muschamp, part of which he gave to Melrose Abbey before 1247, in which year he died." [5]

Early History of the Greenlees family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Greenlees research. Another 302 words (22 lines of text) covering the years 1574, 1689, 1296, 1306, 1868, 1327, 1361, 1386, 1422, 1424, 1426, 1439, 1452, 1503, 1729, 1820, 1696, 1354 and 1421 are included under the topic Early Greenlees History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Greenlees Spelling Variations

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

Early Notables of the Greenlees family (pre 1700)

More information is included under the topic Early Greenlees Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Greenlees migration to the United States +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Greenlees Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Margaret Greenlees, who arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1746 [6]
  • John Greenlees, who landed in Wilmington, North Carolina in 1774 [6]
Greenlees Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • William Greenlees, who arrived in Ohio in 1858 [6]

Australia Greenlees migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Greenlees Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • William Greenlees, aged 41, a labourer, who arrived in South Australia in 1851 aboard the ship "Sultana" [7]
  • William Greenlees, aged 41, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Sultana" in 1851 [7]
  • Isabella Greenlees, aged 36, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Sultana" in 1851 [7]

New Zealand Greenlees migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Greenlees Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Neil Greenlees, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Berwickshire" in 1881

West Indies Greenlees migration to West Indies +

The British first settled the British West Indies around 1604. They made many attempts but failed in some to establish settlements on the Islands including Saint Lucia and Grenada. By 1627 they had managed to establish settlements on St. Kitts (St. Christopher) and Barbados, but by 1641 the Spanish had moved in and destroyed some of these including those at Providence Island. The British continued to expand the settlements including setting the First Federation in the British West Indies by 1674; some of the islands include Barbados, Bermuda, Cayman Island, Turks and Caicos, Jamaica and Belize then known as British Honduras. By the 1960's many of the islands became independent after the West Indies Federation which existed from 1958 to 1962 failed due to internal political conflicts. After this a number of Eastern Caribbean islands formed a free association. [8]
Greenlees Settlers in West Indies in the 17th Century
  • Thomas Greenlees, aged 21, who arrived in Barbados in 1683-1684 [6]

Contemporary Notables of the name Greenlees (post 1700) +

  • Donald "Don" Greenlees (b. 1875), Scottish professional footballer who played from the late 1800s to the early 1900s. Member of the Scottish League XI National Team in 1904
  • Dr Thomas Duncan Greenlees FRSE (1859-1929), Scottish physician, Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1897, Director of the Medical Association of South Africa, Inspector of Asylums for the Cape of Good Hope
  • Henry Dickson "Harry" Greenlees (1903-1969), Scottish rugby union fly-half who played 153 games for Leicester Tigers (1926-1932) and 6 games for Scotland (1926-1932)
  • Ysobel Greenlees (1902-1996), Scottish international golfer and founder of the Greenlees Trophy League
  • Robert Greenlees (1820-1894), Scottish stained glass artist and teacher at the Glasgow School of Art
  • Dr. James Robertson Campbell Greenlees DSO &Bar (1878-1951), Scottish rugby union footballer and educationlist, Member of the Scotland National Team (1900-1903)
  • Vilma 'Ronalyn' Greenlees (b. 1971), Philippines bronze medalist lawn bowler as the 2016 World Outdoor Championships
  • Gavin Greenlees (1930-1983), Australian poet from Melbourne, Victoria but grew up in Sydney
  • Duncan Greenlees (1899-1966), East African-born, English writer, theosophist and educationist, known for having written the 'World Gospel Series' from 1949 to 1966
  • John Greenlees Semple (1904-1985), British mathematician working in algebraic geometry


The Greenlees Motto +

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.


  1. ^ Sims, Clifford Stanley The Origin and Signification of Scottish Surnames. 1862. Print.
  2. ^ Harrison, Henry, Surnames of the United Kingdom: A Concise Etymological Dictionary Baltimore: Geneological Publishing Company, 2013. Print
  3. ^ Charnock, Richard, Stephen, Ludus Patronymicus of The Etymology of Curious Surnames. London: Trubner & Co., 60 Paternoster Row, 1868. Print.
  4. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  5. ^ Black, George F., The Surnames of Scotland Their Origin, Meaning and History. New York: New York Public Library, 1946. Print. (ISBN 0-87104-172-3)
  6. ^ Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  7. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) SULTANA 1851. Retrieved http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1851Sultana.htm
  8. ^ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_West_Indies


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