- Recorded in many forms and apparently including Greatham, Greetham, Gretham, Gritam, Greecham, Grekham, Greekham, Graecan, Greacen, Greechan, and probably others, this is a "confused" surname of at least two possible origins. It may be Irish, and a form of the Gaelic word "grieve" meaning a steward of an estate, and certainly recorded as Graecan, Greacan and even Grayson in County Monaghan, but more likely is of English origin, and locational. If so it is either from a now 'lost' medieval village of which the surname is the only reminder of its existence, or more likely it is from Greatham, a village in County Durham, first recorded as Gretham in 1196, Greatham in Hampshire, first recorded in the famous Domesday Book of 1086 as Greteham, or Greatham in Gloucestershire also recorded in Domesday Book but as Gretan. Over the many centuries, local dialects have been very thick, spelling problematical, and eduction minimal, which has inevitably lead with some names to variations in the developing spelling. It is unclear as to when the surname was first recorded but examples taken from surviving registers of the city of London include Thomas Getham at the church of St Giles Cripplegate, on October 18th 1612, Mary Greakam at the famous church of St Mary-le-Bone, on June 10th 1684, Thomas Greetham, a christening witness at Putney, on May 28th 1738, and Robert Greacen of Kilmore, County Monaghan, in 1864. Irish records are rather haphazard with the majority of early ones being destroyed by the IRA in 1922, when they set fire to the Irish Public Records office in Dublin. This was during the Civil War of 1922 - 1925.
Surnames reference. 2013.