Origins of the Greyling family in South Africa

There is a lot of information on the internet about the origins and meaning of the surname Greyling. In the South African context almost all of it is wrong. Most of the information about the meaning of Greyling is pure speculation on sites with “boilerplate” explanations of the meaning of surnames.

The progenitor (stamvader) of the Greyling family in South Africa arrived at the Cape of Good Hope as an employee of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) in 1725. His name was Jan or Johann Greyling and all the Greylings in South Africa are his descendants. He originated from the town Linz in Saxony, a very small town near Dresden.

He was not the only Greyling that arrived at the Cape. Johann Heinrich Greyling from Leipzig arrived at the Cape much later, but he did not have any male children.

It is quite clear that the Greyling family in South Africa has German roots.

In the early 1990s I worked in Germany. I was approached by an older colleague that grew up in Saxony that asked me if I was of German origin. At the time I was not very interested in family research at all and said that as far as I know I was of Dutch origin. He then told me that the surname Greiling is a well known surname in the area where he grew up and he thinks I am of German origin. Note: Greiling is a spelling variant of the Greyling in many of the older South African archive documents. This is anecdotal but fits with the more formal evidence that the Greyling family in South Africa is of German origin.