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Family spelling variants includes Greensmith, Greenham, Greenfield, Greene, Grene
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Greenfield Family History
Recorded as Green and Greene, this is one of the most widespread of English, and occasionally Irish, surnames.
With Germanic and Old English origins, the name derives from the word 'grene' meaning green, and may in some cases have been a topographical nickname for a person who lived near to a village green or a place called Green. The word's alternative meaning, a symbol of youth, spring and the re-growth of nature, may have referred to a young man who took part in ancient May Day fertility celebrations, or referred to that young man's inexperience.
In Ireland, it may have derived from a number of Irish surnames: Ó hUaithnín, containing the root word 'uaine'- green; Ó Fathaigh by mistranslation; and Mac Giolla Ghlais which includes the root word 'glas' meaning grey/green; and and Ó hUainidhe (which again includes the root word 'uaine', green).
It is also an anglicisation of the German as well as the Ashkenazic Jewish surname Grün which also means green.
Some of the earliest references to the surname appear in the 1181 Kent Pipe Rolls (Geoffrey de Grene); the 1350 Oxfordshire Feet of Fines (Geoffrey atte Grene); and the 1379 Norfolk Poll Tax (Johannes le Grenex).
Examples of the anglicisation of an Ashkenazic Jewish variation of the surname include the name of Levi Ephraim Green, who was born in Holland and who appears on the 1851 London census; and of Hyman Green, born in Poland, who appears on the 1881 Middlesex census.
In 1881 the surname was widespread across England, but appeared in heavy concentrations on that year's census in London, Lancashire, West Yorkshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire, the south east of England as well as in Lincolnshire and Norfolk.
In 1891 the frequency of the Green spelling on that year's census was 88,772 throughout the whole of England and Wales; and there wre 917 incidences of the Greene variation. The highest concentration of the surname was in London, with 12,683 entries, and in Lancashire with 11,984.
In Scotland in 1891 there were 2,136 entries, and the highest numbers were found in Lanarkshire.
In Ireland in 1890, there were 152 relevant birth registrations (105 for Green, 47 for Greene), mainly ocncentrated in Dublin, and counties Galway, Tipperary and Clare.
In Wales the highest numbers of Green family members were historically most evident in the counties that border England, including Flintshire and Monmouthshire.
- In 1836 Charles Green (1793–1841) made avaiation history by flying from Vauxhall Gardens, London, to Weilberg, Germany (480 miles), in just under 18 hours.
- Solomon Green from Dorset was transported to Van Diemen's Land, Australia aboard the 'Albion' on 17th May, 1823.
1851, 1881, 1891 Census
Homes of Family Names in Great Britain, H.B. Guppy, London 1890
Special Report on Irish Surnames, R.E. Matheson. Dublin 1901/9
Sloinnte Gaedheal is Gall, P. Woulfe, Dublin 1913
Dictionary of American Family Names, P. Hanks, OUP 2003/13
The Oxford Dictionary of Family Names in Britain 7 Ireland, Hanks, Coates, McClure, 2016
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