This surname GREAT was derived from the Old Norman word GREOT, and meant the dweller at the patch of gravelly soil, or it was an occupational name for one who supplied gravel or a worker in a gravel pit. Occupational surnames refer directly to the particular trade or occupation followed by the first bearer of the name. These occupations can be divided into classes such as agricultural, manufacturing, retailing and so on. In the Middle Ages, at least among the Christian population, people did not pursue specialized occupations exclusively to the extent that we do today. Smiths, millers and wrights were indeed specialists, but even they would normally have their own smallholdings for growing crops and keeping a few animals. Others were simply designated as the servant of some person of a higher social status, as a maid or parson. The name was probably brought into England in the wake of the Norman Invasion of 1066. The names introduced into Britain by the Normans during the Invasion of 1066 were of three kinds. There were names of Norse origin which their ancestors had carried into Normandy; names of Germanic origin which the Frankish conquerors had brought across the Rhine and which had ousted the old Celtic and Latin names from France, and Biblical names and names of Latin and Greek saints. These names they retained even after the customs and language of the natives of Northern France had been adopted by them. After the Norman Conquest not only Normans, but Frenchmen and Bretons from other parts of France settled in England, and quite a few found their way north into Scotland. Early records of the name mention Phillippus filius Grete, who was documented in the year 1201 in County Northumberland, and Greta (without surname) appears in Yorkshire in 1219. Henry Gilbert le Grete was recorded in 1279 in Berkshire. The name was taken to Scotland by settlers and James Great in Kirkpatrick-Irongray, Dumfriesshire was mentioned in the year 1755. The associated coat of arms is recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884.
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