This interesting surname is of English locational origin from Gretton in Gloucestershire or Shropshire, or Girton in Cambridgeshire or Nottinghamshire. The placenames were recorded respectively as "Gretona" in the "Registrum Monasterii de Winchelcumba" (1175), "Grotintune" in the "Domesday Book of 1086, "Gretton" in the "Diplomatarium Anglicum" (1060) and "Gretone" also in the Domesday Book. The component elements of the name are the Olde English pre 7th Century "greot" meaning gravel plus "tun" an enclosure or settlement; hence "settlement on gravelly soil". Locational names were originally given as a means of identification to those who left their village or place of origin to settle elsewhere. The surname is first recorded in the latter half of the 11th Century (see below). Engenulfus de Grettona is noted in the 1172 "Pipe Rolls of Northamptonshire" and Richard de Grittone, appears in the "Hundred Rolls of Cambridgeshire" (1279). In the modern idiom, the surname has many variant spellings including Girton, Girtin, Gurton, Gritton, Gritten, etc.. An interesting namebearer was William Gretton, (1736 -1813), who was master of Magdalene College, Cambridgeshire and Archdeacon of Essex. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Godmarus de Grettona which was dated 1086, in the "Inquisitio Eliensis" of Cambridgeshire, during the reign of King William 1, known as "William the Conqueror", 1066 - 1087. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.

Surnames reference. 2013.

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