The ancestoral descendency chart above shows the family branches as they decelop from the anglo saxon brothers Hereweald (Harold) and Æðel (Æthel or Athel) Grēneleāh or Gryndeleā (c.850)) down through the Greenly and Grindlay lines today. Click on the picture for more information.
Our Greenly family name begins life as 'de Greneleye' from around c850 AD in northern England when two brother knights of this family, Harold and Athel ... "were gifted by King Alfred to a demesne (area of land) in the County of Warwick...where this branch lived in opulence and high respect"
From the c1200's some of our family is based in Staffordshire around an area known as 'Grindley' today but in ancient Saxon times the area was known as 'Greneleye'. Our ancestors who lived in that small area were known as 'de Greneleyes' which means 'of the Greneleye'.
People often took their surname from a place near where they lived, or a feature of their appearance or character. This is how people were identified. In those times very few people could read or write, so the easiest way to describe a man who lived near an oak tree was to call him John Oak, or had white hair to be known John White, or John Small or John Long. There is more on the origin of names in The Greenly Story section.
Additionally, the following from the history of the current Grindley family (a branch of the Greneleye family). (note: all hyperlinks are to wikipedia pages):
The family are reputed to be descended from the Anglo-Saxon thegns, Hereweald (Harold) and Æðel (Æthel or Athel) Grēneleāh or Gryndeleā (c.850), transliterated as Greenlee or Greenley, of northern Northumbria. The surname is of territorial origin and historically attributed to either the ancient village of Grinnla, now Greenlaw in the Scottish Borders, or the medieval hamlet of Greenley near Haltwhistle in Northumberland,both formerly of the Kingdom of Northumbria.
According to records gathered by James Watt of Aston Hall in Birmingham, the brothers were awarded the demesne of Balsal Chase or Bordeshale, now Balsall Heath, in Warwickshire and its manors by King Alfred the Great for "heroic gallantry" during the Norfolk Campaign against the Danes. Control of these lands and the surrounding region in northern Warwickshire, the then Kingdom of Mercia, established the family in the Midland counties in addition to the North of England and the Scottish Lowlands. Their kin who remained in the north, are considered to have largely become part of the wider lowland clanship of Home and Wedderburn.
"Of an ancient family "thorough Anglo Saxon" named Greenlee, called in the Midland Counties of England "The Greenlees"...two knights of this family...were gifted by King Alfred to a demesne in the County of Warwick...where this branch lived in opulence and high respect" – Archives of Aston Hall, Warwickshire
Some modern historians trace the surname to a small cluster of settlements in the English Midlands,[c] namely Grindley in Staffordshire, Grindley Brook and Tushingham cum Grindley on the Shropshire and Cheshire border,and Little Gringley in Nottinghamshire Professor Patrick Hanks, instead suggests the family took their name from their lands in the Midlands, where by the mid 11th century, the Warwickshire line of the family held territories across the county, centred around Bordeshale Manor, over which they held lordship into the Late Middle Ages as the resident Lords of Bordeshale.
For further reading on the above please visit the excellent site here: Grindlay family
Whatever the earliest source that can be found there is much evidence from Staunton on Arrow in Herefordshire from the early 14c that brings the story right up the current day ancestors in the UK, USA, Australia and New Zealand to name a few.
Our formal family records commence from 1250AD - the 15 July 1250 to be precise - in the reign of Henry III. Our de Greneleye family leaves Staffordshire and settles in North Herefordshire in the small villages of Staunton-on-Arrow and eventually Titley as well. The name simplifies to Greenly over the centuries. In fact in many of the wills (see section) our surname is spelt in a number of ways; Greenly, Greneleye, Grenely, Grenly, Greneley - the recorder of the will would write the names as he heard them.
Philippe Greneleye is mentioned in a will dated 1546. In 1578 this Philippe dies and in his will we learn that he is a Yeoman (Gentleman Farmer) and his children are, Philip (the younger), Thomas, Stephen, Richard and John. This John Greneleye was granted a Lordship (by Henry VIII) of the area that he and his family lived in, Mowley, next door to Staunton-on-Arrow. This Lord was now stood apart from his Staunton-on-Arrow family and would settle in Titley a few more miles up the River Arrow.
The Greenly story - of the Titley and Staunton-on-Arrow branches - has some great characters and historical events associated with it; There are Lords and Lady's, famous battle's like the Battle of Traflagar, an amazing link with Lord Nelson's funeral in 1806, a famous eye witness account of a bloody battle from the Amercian Civil war, there's a link with Laurel and Hardy, and with the Chitty, Chitty Bang Bang car and lots, lots more ...
- Learn about me, David Greenly, and my own personal link with this incredible story. My tree will be of interest to anyone from America looking for a connection back to England.
- Read The Greenly Story. Learn about the origins of the family from its roots in Saxon ruled Staffordshire, and see the timeline of the past hundreds of years unfold.
- Look at some amazing Greenly Images that really bring some colour to the story.
- Read in detail all of the significant wills of some Greenlys or those that mention a Greenly, from 1500 to 1850.
- Read the full entry in Burke's Peerage for the Greenlys of Titley Court.
- Discover some of the ancestors of the Greenly's that emigrated to America.
- Read about one of the most amazing character's in the story who served on HMS revenge at the Battle of Trafalgar and is acknowledged with recording two very important events of the battle.
- Read about the oldest working car in the UK; originally owned by a Titley Court Greenly.
- Learn about the Greenly link back to 1066 and William The Conqueror.
- Interested in the early geologists that were able to age the Earth?, then meet Edward Greenly from Victorian times. A bit of a celebrity in the rock breaking circle.
- Watch this 30 minute film from 1961 about the wonderful world of advertising and which features Greenlys Ltd (founded in 1909 by Arthur J. Greenly). By 1961 Greenly's was the most successful advertising agency in the UK and part of the Londsdale-Hands Group. I want to work there !
- Look at the Royal Family Tree and see just how far back the de Greneleye's go in history. The earlierst recorded reference is from the reign of Henry III in 1230 AD!
- Read about John Greenly who emigrated to Perth, Canada in 1816.
- See the Greenly Wills section for a view of some copies of original wills including Lady Elizabeth Greenly.
- Read an amazing 1,000 page book on the Greenlees in America (PDF below). Published in 1838 it's a magnificent period piece stuffed full of pictures, personal ancestry and references. The book claims a link to the Greenly's of England and throughout the book there are many switches in spelling to Greenly. Have a read, it'll take a while, and see what you think? it's a cracking read. Enjoy it below.
- My own personal link into this book is on page 531 which describes the following characters from my own tree branch. RICHARD GREENLY was bom in 1787 at Leominster, Herefordshire, England;died in 1874; married about 1813, HANNAH BRADFORD, who was bornin 1794 at Bristol, England, died in 1873, daughter of Thomas Bradford. Hewas a farmer; Episcopalian. Resided at Bristol, England and at Elingsland,near Leominster, England. He emigrated to America in 1832.
- Albert H. Greenly was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, March 11,1881, the son of Albert H. and May J. Greenly. He is famous for his Greenly Collection of material about Abraham Lincoln. Click here to read the book.
- Watch this amazing video of Laurel and Hardy opening the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway. This railway was the work of Henry Greenly - who was there on the day the film was recorded.
- See which land was owned by Greenly's in Herefordshire
- Review all census records in the UK from 1841- 1911
- In 1730 Edward Greenly, Esq., was His Majesty's Procurator General (Head Lawyer to George III).
- Read about Tom Barnard, the racing driver, the grandson of Lady Lucy Greenly and Lt-Col the Hon Anthony Schomberg Byng.
- Read the account of William Bradford, one of the Pilgrim Fathers who arrived in America on board the Mayflower (see PDF below)
History_of_Plymouth_Plantation (William [...]
Adobe Acrobat document [13.4 MB]
Sheriff of Herefordshire 1881.pdf
Adobe Acrobat document [74.1 KB]
Please feel free to download this and use it as you wish.
Greenly's UK Census Data (1841 _ 1911).d[...]
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