This interesting surname, with variant spellings Grabbam and Grabeham, is of English locational origin from one of the estimated seven to ten thousand villages and hamlets that have now disappeared from the maps in Britain. The prime cause of these "disappearances" was the enforced "clearing" and dispersal of the former inhabitants to make way for sheep pastures at the height of the wool trade in the 14th Century. Natural causes such as the Black Death of 1348 also contributed to the lost village phenomenon. The original place is believed to have been in the Devon - Somerset area, as the name is more widespread and earlier there. The component elements are believed to be the Old English pre 7th Century personal name "Grabba" plus "tun" a homestead or village. On February 18th 1578, Alice Grabham married George Kearle, at North Curry, Somerset. The marriage of John Grabham and Agnes Berrye, took place on May 9th 1578, at Norton, Fitzwarren, Somerset. John, son of Walter and Joan Grabham, was christened at Uffculme, Devonshire, on February 16th 1650. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Chris Grabbam, who married John Foyett, which was dated February 5th 1575, in Goathurst, Somerset, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, known as "Good Queen Bess", 1558 - 1603. 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.
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