Although now widely associated with Scotland and Ireland, this distinguished surname is of Anglo-Saxon origins. It was a locational name originally from the town of Grantham in Lincolnshire, and as such recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as both Graham and Grandham. The translation is either the homestead (ham) on the gravel from the Olde English pre 7th century grand, meaning gravel, or perhaps the personal name "Granta" and hence Granta's homestead. Locational surnames usually developed when former inhabitants of a place moved to another area, and were best identified by the name of their birthplace. The surname Graham was taken to Scotland at the beginning of the 12th Century by the Norman baron William de Graham (see below), holder of the manor in Lincolnshire, from whom many if not all modern bearers are probably descended. James Graham, first marquis and fifth Earl of Montrose (1612 - 1650), fought on behalf of Charles 1st and became lieutenant- general to Charles 11 in 1648. This most notable surname has no less that forty-five entries in the "Dictionary of National Biography", and over forty coats of arms granted to families of the name. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William de Graham, which was dated 1127, in the Foundation Charter of Holyrood Abbey, Edinburgh, during the reign of King David 1st of Scotland, 1124 - 1153.
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