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Grateley Coat of Arms / Grateley Family Crest

The surname of GRATELEY was a locational name 'of Grately' a spot in County Hampshire. The name literally meant 'the dweller at the Great Leah' from residence beside, and was derived from the Old English word 'gretleah'. Local surnames, by far the largest group, derived from a place name where the man held land or from the place from which he had come, or where he actually lived. These local surnames were originally preceded by a preposition such as "de", "atte", "by" or "in". The names may derive from a manor held, from working in a religious dwelling or from literally living by a wood or marsh or by a stream. Early records of the name mention Greatteleiam (without surname) who was documented in the year 929 in Hampshire. The name was recorded in 935 in Hampshire as Greatanlea, and Greteleia in 1130. The name now is also spelt Gratley and Greatley. Since the dawn of civilisation the need to communicate has been a prime drive of all higher mankind. The more organised the social structure became, the more urgent the need to name places, objects and situations essential to the survival and existence of the social unit. From this common stem arose the requirements to identify families, tribes and individual members evolving into a pattern in evidence today. In the formation of this history, common usage of customs, trades, locations, patronymic and generic terms were often adopted as surnames. The demands of bureaucracy formally introduced by feudal lords in the 11th century, to define the boundaries and families within their fiefdoms, crystallized the need for personal identification and accountability, and surnames became in general use from this time onwards. In many parts of central and western Europe, hereditary surnames began to become fixed at around the 12th century, and have developed and changed slowly over the years. As society became more complex, and such matters as the management of tenure, and in particular the collection of taxes were delegated to special functionaries, it became imperative to distinguish a more complex system of nomenclature to differentiate one individual from another.

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Last Updated: Dec. 1st, 2021

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