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  1. #1
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    Default De Greet family from Kent

    Does anyone happen to have, or know where I might find, any information regarding the De Greet (sometimes De Gret) family who were in Doddington, Kent from 1100 until 1300? I have tried the Domesday Book.

    I suspect they may have been of Norman origin but I believe that it was fashionable to use a French sounding name at that time.

    Regards & thanks
    John Adey

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    Default De Greet family

    It sounds as if this surname could well be Flemish, and not Norman (Breton is another possibility). There were strong familial ties between the Norman ducal family and the rulers of Flanders and Brabant, ditto Brittany. There were almost certainly similar ties among the lesser nobility of the period.

    Substantial numbers of Flemings and Bretons were involved in the invasion force in 1066 and in the occupation of England in the succeeding years. During the reigns of William I ('The Bastard') and William II Rufus, and also after 1100, when Henry I came to the throne, it is fairly certain that these links with the European mainland would have been maintained.

    Alternatively, de Greet may have been the name of a mercantile trading family from the Low Countries (present day Netherlands and Belgium) who were not members of the nobility, and who, for business reasons, chose to settle in Kent. --- In French (Norman French) 'de' = 'of'; in Dutch/Flemish 'de' = 'the'; This is its origin in many present day Netherlandic surnames, e.g. de Groot ('Mr Large'!), etc.

    Regards

    Geoff
    Last edited by geoffpowers; 20-01-2006 at 11:38 PM. Reason: typo

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    Default De Greet

    Thank you.

    That is very interesting. As with most old names the spelling is not consistant, sometimes De Greet or De Gret and sometimes De Grit. You wouldn't be able to offer a translation of any of these assuming Flemish origin would you?

    Thanks again
    John Adey

  4. #4
    Geoffers
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnadey
    sometimes De Greet or De Gret and sometimes De Grit. You wouldn't be able to offer a translation of any of these assuming Flemish origin would you?
    Middle-Flemish isn't my strong point and I'd bow to others with better knowledge; but I wonder if this is a variant of the verb 'groeten' - to greet. The root 'greten' existed in Middle and Old English, having the meaning either, to weep/cry - or to greet.

    Alternatively - in Old English 'gret' was a of variant of 'great' and also 'greot' (as in modern 'grit')*. Flemish and English were very similar languages at this time.

    Geoffers

    * See Stratmann's Middle-English Dictionary pages 307-8.

    Geoffers

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    Default de Greet

    Geoffers

    Your ace has trumped my king! I hadn't got as far as thinking about Middle English, but if the name became established in the late 11C we should probably be talking about Late Old English, technically speaking. But then languages don't stand still, do they?

    Your suggestion for the etymology sounds very plausible. I don't have any Middle English resources to hand to consult. As German is my specialism, not English, my slender knowledge of Dutch has fallen through the gap in the middle!

    Cheers

    Geoff

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    Geoffers
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    Quote Originally Posted by geoffpowers
    Your ace has trumped my king! I hadn't got as far as thinking about Middle English, but if the name became established in the late 11C we should probably be talking about Late Old English, technically speaking.
    True enough, despite its name Stratmann's includes references back to OE, ON, OHG, OLG, Fris, etc and is an excellent dictionary (OUP ISBN 0-19-863106-5). I have double checked against other sources, such as Sweet and can find nothing else which I think might fit - sorry.

    Geoffers
    PS I shall bear you in mind for Germanic references as my knowledge of that labguage is bound to be less than yours is of Dutch

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    Default De Greet family

    John, Geoffers!

    A much more mundane, but much more likely explanation: there is a small hamlet called Greet, tucked into the North Downs about 2 miles SE of the village of Wichling, Kent (south of the section of M2 between Sittingbourne and Faversham)........., but you say it doesn't feature in Doomsday, John?

    (There are quite a lot of Greets elsewhere in England according to Streetmap.com, but I'm assuming that the one in Kent is the most relevant.)

    Almost any Tom, Dick or Harry could say he was of (de) such-and-such a place in the Middle Ages. It does not mean he was anyone special, but then most of William's barons weren't anyone special either........ mostly a bunch of brigands!

    (Thinks: Now why didn't I look at the map first? So much for my my far-fetched Flemings. Ah, well!)

    GP
    Last edited by geoffpowers; 22-01-2006 at 11:40 AM.

  8. #8
    Geoffers
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    Quote Originally Posted by geoffpowers
    A much more mundane, but much more likely explanation: there is a small hamlet called Greet, tucked into the North Downs about 2 miles SE of the village of Wichling, Kent
    Well done, local knowledge wins again, which brings us back to the original suggestion that it's a frecnh 'de'. Having checked a couple of place name dictionaries, thre is a Greete in Shropshire, where the name is derived from the Old English word 'greot', here meaning a gravelly place.

    Geoffers

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    Plenty of gravel in the Sittingbourne - Faversham area too.

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    Default De Greet

    Thanks all.

    I have since found out that the family were later in Doddington , Kent which puts it very close to the area mentioned.

    Regards
    John Adey

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