This interesting surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational name from the Midlands region, particularly from a place called Great Rakes, from the Northern Middle English "great", from the Olde English pre 7th Century "great" meaning large, plus "rake", a development of the Olde English "hrace", path or track, used in Derbyshire in the lead-mining sense of "vertical vein of ore". In this sense "rake" became the name of several lead-mines, including Greatrake Mines in Carsington, which also could be a source of the surname. The modern surname can be found in a variety of forms, ranging from Greatorex, Greaterex, and Greatrakes to Gratrex and Greatrex. Among the many church recordings of the name in the Midland counties are those of the marriage of Thomas Greattrycke and Jonne Bake at Church Eaton, Staffordshire, on February 7th 1597; the christening of Richard, son of Nicholas and Isabell Greatorex, on April 9th 1609, in Denby, Derbyshire; and the marriage of William Greatorex and Mary Blande, at All Saints, Derby, on May 30th 1668. A Coat of Arms granted to the family is per pale black and red, three gold leopards' heads erased, pellettee, blue langued. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Thomas Greatrax, which was dated February 2nd 1564, witness at the christening of his son, Thomas, at Seighford, Staffordshire, 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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