Recorded in several spelling forms including: Gratland, Greatland, Greetland, and Gritland, this is an English locational surname. It originates either from the village of Greetland in the West Riding of Yorkshire, and high on the Pennines near Halifax, or it from a now 'lost' village of whom the only reminder in the 20th century, is the surname. Some five thousand British surnames are estimated to have originated from 'lost' villages, so whilst unusual, it is not an uncommon phenomena. In this case we are not sure, as the known recordings are erratic. This in itself usually indicates a 'lost' location, but as we do have some early 'Greetland' recordings, the balance of evidence would suggest that this is the source of the other spellings. What is certain is that the name does mean 'stony land', from the pre 7th century Olde English word 'greot' and 'landa', and it is doubtful if anybody who knows the village of Greetland, would disagree with the description. Locational surnames are by their nature 'from' names. That is to say that they were given as easy identification to people after they left their original homes and moved elsewhere. This could be the next village or as far away as London, the further they moved, the more likely that the name spelling changed. In this case early examples of the name recordings include: Hugonis Ramsden Greetland, a witness at Elland church, near Halifax, on May 27th 1568, and Catherine Gratland, the daughter of Henry and Rebecca Gratland, who was christened at St Giles Cripplegate, in the city of London, on March 1st 1812.
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