This surname GIRTON was a locational name 'of Gretton' a chapelry in the parish of Winchcombe, Gloucestershire. There is also a parish 'Gretton' near Rockingham, Southampton, and GIRTON in Nottingham. The name was derived from the Old English word GREOTUN, and literally meant the dweller in the enclosure or settlement. Other spellings include GIRTE, GRITTEN and GRITTON. Habitation names are derived from names denoting towns, villages, farmsteads or other named places, which include rivers, houses with signs on them, regions, or whole counties. The original bearer of the name who stayed in his area might be known by the name of his farm, or the locality in the parish; someone who moved to another town might be known by the name of his village; while someone who moved to another county could acquire the name of that county or the region from which he originated. Early records of the name mention GRETONE (without surname) who appears in the year 1185 in County Gloucestershire. Nicholas de GIRTON who was documented in the year 1273 in County Gloucestershire and Adam de GRETTON, County Cambridge, ibid. Edward GRETTON was recorded during the reign of Edward III (1327-1377) and William GRITONE was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Many factors contributed to the establishment of a surname system. For generations after the Norman Conquest of 1066 a very few dynasts and magnates passed on hereditary surnames, but the main of the population, with a wide choice of first-names out of Celtic, Old English, Norman and Latin, avoided ambiguity without the need for a second name. As society became more stabilized, there was property to leave in wills, the towns and villages grew and the labels that had served to distinguish a handful of folk in a friendly village were not adequate for a teeming slum where perhaps most of the householders were engaged in the same monotonous trade, so not even their occupations could distinguish them, and some first names were gaining a tiresome popularity, especially Thomas after 1170. The hereditary principle in surnames gained currency first in the South, and the poorer folk were slower to apply it. By the 14th century however, most of the population had acquired a second name. A later instance of the name mentions Richard Squire and Mary GRETTON who were married in Canterbury, Kent in the year 1665.
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