written here is open for debate, if you have information
to prove or disprove what I have written, or you simply
have something to add, I will be more than happy to publish
your views or information here on the web site.
Some may say that the following is pure conjecture, but
it is based on known facts. I look forward to your thoughts,
good or bad.
Where do they come from?
Surnames were not generally used until around the time
of the Norman Conquest, & they were still not commonplace
for another 200 years. The reason behind this, is there
was no need for them, as communities were small & travel
outside of that community was rare, so the chance of two
people having the same name was remote. If they did travel
out side of the community, they would use descriptions of
themselves. So second or surnames names fell in to the following
Greenhalgh surname facts
The name Greenhalgh does not appear in the top 500 surname
list in the UK, and the name is found most extensively in
the Lancashire area.
the Origins & meaning
One theory is that the name is of Nordic (Viking) origin,
one possible meaning which I keep hearing over the years
is Land by a body of water.
The current spelling of Greenhalgh I believe is an English
approximation of the local pronunciation. The spelling has
probably changed several times since the Norman conquest
of England which was complete by 1071AD.
Doomsday Book which was written 14 years after the Norman
conquest states that the original spelling of Greenhalgh
was Greneholf, so lets have a look at the meaning of this
spelling by breaking this in to its two parts, firstly Grene.
found at www.dictionary.com
Using their Dictionary search
Middle English grene, from Old English grne;
sense 7 translation of German Grünen, Greens, from grün,
lets look at the second part holf
Meaning found at www.dictionary.com
Using their thesaurus search
N. island, isle, islet, eyot[obs], ait[obs], holf[obs],
reef, atoll, breaker; archipelago; islander.
loosely translated from old English Greenhalgh means Green
Island, rather nice I think. I feel to take the
HALGH in modern English/Dutch or German is impossible, as
I said earlier this spelling is an approximation of the
pronunciation & is not truly a word.
have found no information to detail when the village
of Greenhalgh was originally named. It has even been
suggested that Garstang
was originally called Greenhalgh! This I cannot prove, but
it seems unlikely as the Doomsday Book mentions both Garstang
& Greenhalgh or Greneholf as it was known. The Doomsday Book was commissioned,
December 1085 & was complete by the August of 1086.
castle which is near Garstang was not built until the year
1490 by Thomas Stanley, some 400 years after the Doomsday
records. The record clearly states that Garstang & Greneholf
were two separate villages/towns, make your own conclusions.
would be fair to say that the origins of the name came from
the village as people started to move between villages.
The village of Greenhalgh (Greneholf) was probably in existence
quite some time before 1071 possibly with the treaty of
Wedmore, which gave the Danish settlers the north & the
east of the country in 880AD.
coat of arms
As far as I can tell the Greenhalgh coat of arms was granted
to Thomas Greenhalgh of Bandlesome . Further information
can be found here The motto with this coat of arms is "vinctus sola" time
to get out the latin dictionary!
The one thing that won't be argued about by many Greenhalgh's
is the fact that not many people know how the name should
be pronounced, most people can't even spell it! The spelling
of GREENHALGH has been here for a very long time, certainly
since the first scholars started to record English history.
But the modern pronunciation has caused no end of debate.
Forgetting all the rather rude & non entertaining pronunciations
that I have heard, there is one that I do hear regularly, GREENHALSH. Not a bad pronunciation but I have always
been brought up to pronounce the name as follows.
down it would look like this GREEN-HAL-J the J is
pronounced the same as the way J is pronounced in Jeep,
so put it all together & there you go. Ironically some
believe that HALGH was spelt with a J originally!
It is fair to say that the name of Greenhalgh is indeed
old, with the first Greenhalgh surnames probably going back
to around 1200A.D. The castle & its owner Thomas Stanley
played a major part in early English history, but the reasons
why they called it Greenhalgh castle so far elude me. The
one thing the castle does do is confirm that the current
spelling has been in existence since 1490, who knows how
many spelling changes there have been since the name was
first recorded in the Doomsday Book some 400 years earlier.
history is indeed a truly European affair, & its this cosmopolitan
mish mash of nations which has given us this rather unusual
name, & I hope during 2001 to find out more about the origins
of the Greenhalgh name, as well as the castle & its place
in English history. Still I hope this page has been interesting
for you to read, remember if you would like to add your
thoughts please do contact me, It will be great to hear
you would like to make comment on the theories and views
on this page, why not visit the Greenhalgh Forum by clicking
origins & meaning finds on the Internet:
I have found this site
which is all about the Doomsday Book http://www.domesdaybook.co.uk/index.html
which states that the name was originally spelt Greneholf.
Now this is straight out of the Doomsday Book, so I cant
argue with that really!