The surname of GRATTON was a locational name 'of Gratton' a spot in County Devon. Local names usually denoted where a man held his land, and indicated where he actually lived. The name was derived from the Old English word ' greatdun ' and literally meant the dweller at the great hill. Early records of the name mention Gretedone (without surname) who was listed in the Domesday Book of 1086. In 1066 Duke William of Normandy conquered England. He was crowned King, and most of the lands of the English nobility were soon granted to his followers. Domesday Book was compiled 20 years later. The Saxon Chronicle records that in 1085 'at Gloucester at midwinter, the King had deep speech with his counsellors, and sent men all over England to each shire to find out, what or how much each landowner held in land and livestock, and what it was worth. The returns were brought to him'. William was thorough. One of his Counsellors reports that he also sent a second set of Commissioners 'to shires they did not know and where they were themselves unknown, to check their predecessors' survey, and report culprits to the King'. The information was collected at Winchester, corrected, abridged, and copied by one single writer into a single volume. Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex were copied, by several writers into a second volume. The whole undertaking was completed at speed, in less than 12 months.
Another record mentions Gratton (without surname) who was recorded in the year 1290 in County Cheshire. Surnames before the Norman Conquest of 1066 were rare in England having been brought by the Normans when William the Conqueror invaded the shores. The practice spread to Scotland and Ireland by the 12th century, and in Wales they appeared as late as the 16th century. Most surnames can be traced to one of four sources, locational, from the occupation of the original bearer, nicknames or simply font names based on the first name of the parent being given as the second name to their child.
The associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884.
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