Greenlee last name popularity, history, and meaning

Find out how popular the last name Greenlee is in the United States and learn more about the meaning, history, and race and ethnic origin of people in America who are named Greenlee.

Meaning of Greenlee

Derived from a place name meaning "green clearing" or "green meadow" in Old English.

Greenlee, like all of the last names we have data for, is identified by the U.S. Census Bureau as a surname which has more than 100 occurrences in the United States in the Decennial Census survey. The most recent statistics we have for the Greenlee surname is from the 2010 census data.

Popularity of Greenlee in America

Greenlee is the 3933rd most popular name in America based on the data we have collected from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The Greenlee surname appeared 9,048 times in the 2010 census and if you were to sample 100,000 people in the United States, approximately 3 people would have the surname Greenlee.

We can also compare 2010 data for Greenlee to data from the previous census in 2000. The table below contains all of the statistics for both years in a side-by-side comparison.

2010 2000 Change (%)
Rank 3933 3819 2.94%
Count 9,048 8,531 5.88%
Proportion per 100k 3.07 3.16 -2.89%

The history of the last name Greenlee

The surname Greenlee originates from the northern English county of Lancashire, dating back to the 13th century. It is derived from the Old English words 'grene' meaning green and 'leah' meaning a meadow or clearing in the woods. Thus, the name likely referred to someone who lived near a green meadow or clearing.

One of the earliest recorded instances of the name appears in the Subsidy Rolls of Lancashire from 1332, where it is spelled 'de Grenelowe'. This early spelling suggests the name may have evolved from a place name, possibly a lost or unnamed village or hamlet.

By the 16th century, variations like 'Grenelagh' and 'Greneley' were found in records from Lancashire and neighboring Yorkshire. The modern spelling 'Greenlee' emerged in the 17th century, with records showing families of this name residing in the towns of Burnley and Colne.

Historically, the Greenlee name is associated with the Greenhalgh and Greenall families, who were prominent landowners in Lancashire during the medieval and Tudor periods. The Greenlees may have been a cadet branch or tenants of these larger families.

Notable individuals bearing the Greenlee surname include William Greenlee (1675-1737), a Quaker minister from Pennsylvania who campaigned against slavery. John Greenlee (1718-1792) was an American Revolutionary War soldier and early settler of Kentucky. Haym Greenlee (1723-1790) was a Polish-born Jewish immigrant who helped finance the American Revolution.

In the 19th century, James Greenlee (1833-1900) was a Scottish-born pastor who founded the Presbyterian Church in New Zealand. Edward Greenlee (1858-1932) was an American businessman and philanthropist who co-founded the Greenlee Tool Company in Illinois.

Tracing its origins to medieval Lancashire, the surname Greenlee has a rich history spanning several centuries and countries, with bearers making significant contributions in various fields.

Race and ethnic origin of people with the last name Greenlee

We also have some data on the ancestry of people with the surname Greenlee.

The below race categories are the modified race categories used in the Census Bureau's population estimates program. All people were categorized into six mutually exclusive racial and Hispanic origin groups:

  1. White only
  2. Black only
  3. American Indian and Alaskan Native only
  4. Asian and Pacific Islander only
  5. Hispanic
  6. Two or More Races

For the most recent 2010 census data, the race/ethnic origin breakdown for Greenlee was:

Race/Ethnicity Percentage Total Occurrences
Non-Hispanic White Only 77.19% 6,984
Non-Hispanic Black Only 17.06% 1,544
Non-Hispanic Asian and Pacific Islander Only 0.66% 60
Non-Hispanic American Indian and Alaskan Native 0.38% 34
Non-Hispanic of Two or More Races 2.13% 193
Hispanic Origin 2.58% 233

Note: Any fields showing (S) means the data was suppressed for privacy so that the data does not in any way identify any specific individuals.

Since we have data from the previous census in 2000, we can also compare the values to see how the popularity of Greenlee has changed in the 10 years between the two census surveys.

2010 2000 Change (%)
White 77.19% 79.18% -2.55%
Black 17.06% 16.96% 0.59%
Asian and Pacific Islander 0.66% 0.39% 51.43%
American Indian and Alaskan Native 0.38% 0.49% -25.29%
Two or More Races 2.13% 1.35% 44.83%
Hispanic 2.58% 1.63% 45.13%

Data source

The last name data and ethnic breakdown of last names is sourced directly from the Decennial Census survey, conducted every 10 years by the United States Census Bureau.

The history and meaning of the name Greenlee was researched and written by our team of onomatology and genealogy experts.

If you have a correction or suggestion to improve the history of Greenlee, please contact us.

Reference this page

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"Greenlee last name popularity, history, and meaning". Accessed on July 12, 2024.

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