GREASLEY also written Greyseley, Griseley, Grisley, Greselang, Gresley and Graslee, but in Domesday Griseleia seems to mean “grassland in an opening of the forest.” Mr. Flavell Edmunds in his “Traces of History in the Names of places,”p. 217, gives gres, from Graze grass, whence grese, that is deer in grasstime, i.e. fat deer, and Gres-lay as Gras-land; while both he and Taylor in his “Words and Places” p. 360, give the leys as open forest glades where cattle love to lie.

POSSIBLY some early temporary Church may have been at Greasley, before the one which the Domesday Survey mentions as having been here in the Confessor’s time. It may have been founded by some great Thaine, who may at an early time have been the sole possessor of the large estate, on which he placed the Church near his own dwelling and equi-distant from all parts thereof, before the estate may subsequently have been divided among the proprietors which are mentioned in Domesday. But be that so or not, it must be taken for certain that only one of those whom the Survey mentions can have been the founder, because there is no trace whatever that the others had a proprietary claim on it (as in the case of Medieties, or as at Wandesley, where one Fitz Hubert had half a Church, and as at Trowell where William Ostiarius was in like manner interested in the Church of that parish.

The photo-zincographed copy of the Notts part of Domesday gives one Ulfi as having been at Greasley in the Confessor’s reign, and that the Church and a priest were then here. It is not necessary to give in this place an account of that survey as contained in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, which the reader will find there under A.D. MLXXXV. We believe, however, that the survey comprised of Greasley so much only as was then of present revenue to the King. Greasley, including all the hamlets thereof, are found in the Notts part of the survey on page vi., column 2, and on page XVi., 2, and xvii., i. These accounts, together with Thoroton, Throsby, Dugdale. and the national records, with those of the Borough of Nottingham, must be our guides.

Our County’s name in Domesday is Snotinghscire, the unsettled puzzle of the derivation of which we must leave where we find it, that is, unsolved; though we think that Thoroton’s conjecture is nearest the mark, i.e., that in the Heptarchy the capital town was by the Saxons called Snodengaham, from Snottenga: caves, and ham: home or dwelling. William the Conqueror, as Camden writes, built a castle there on the rock-site of the former ancient tower, in which the Danes so successfully held out against Alfred and Aetheired. Thoroton, on the other hand, opines that, since there is no mention of the Castle in Domesday, it is to be concluded that it was built by Peverel or by the Conqueror. Anyhow, Peverel (whatsoever his disputed descent may have been) had the Lordship of Nottingham, was Governor of the Castle, and had 48 merchants’ houses, and 13 houses of Knights at Nottingham, and 55Lordships in this County alone, one of which was Greasley, which he divided among his followers. As in other places, many of the landed proprietors of the Confessor’s time were dispossessed by the Conqueror. We need not relate how much Ulfi lost at Hodsok, where Turold, one of Roger de Busil’s men superseded him. It is enough for our history to know that he lost his two manors at Greasley, which came to the fee of Peveril who gave one to one of his men called Ailric. One of these manors was rated to be taxed at four bovats to the geld, where Peveril had one carucate, five villains, and two borderers having three ploughs; the other, which became Ailric’s fee, was also rated to the geld at four bovats and certified to be one carucate, but was then waste.

From that time forward we hear nothing more of the dispossessed Ulfi, except that in Strelley (also called Stradleg and Strally), he appears to have been permitted to hold together with one Godwin (a clerk), some of the expropriated Thane’s land (which had been Vichel’s), from the King in capite, which paid for three bovats to the tax, and where they had four villains and one bordar. It would appear that it was one of Ailric’s descendants who first assumed the name of Greasley from the place, which was very usual with those owners who superseded the expropriated proprietors of the Confessor’s reign. Thoroton mentions the first of the de Greasleys as William by name, in the fifth year of the disturbed reign of King Stephen. He takes this William de Greasley to be of the same family with one Hugh, son of Richard, who gave some land in Claindon to the Priory of Lenton. Thoroton arrives at this conclusion from the fact that the next owner of Greasley to be met with was Ralph de Greasley, who was certified to hold three Knights’ fees of the honor of Peveril in Notts, one of which was in our parish, and the two others in Claindon. It is in that way therefore, that William de Greasley of Stephen’s time, is brought into connection with Ralph de Greasley of the reign of King John.