Recorded as Grayland, Graylen, Gralin, Graling, Grayling and possibly others, this is an English surname. However it has at least two possible origins. The first is apparently locational, although we have not been able to find any village in any of the known surname spellings, or indeed a known place name anywhere near in spelling. This is not in itself unusual. It is estimated that at least five thousand surnames of the British Isles do originate from now 'lost' medieval villaged. As to why these place disappeared has been the subject of several books, but in general it can be put down to changes in agricultural practices, enclosure of the common lands, and even the great plagues which swept the country in the 14th to 17th centuries, killing each time as many as a third of the population. The second possible origin is French and possibly Huguenot Protestant. If so it may derive from the French surname Grail or the diminutive Graillon. This is recorded in the city of London on October 15th 1745 with that of Pierre Graillon at Glasshouse Street French church, Westminster. Other random recordings include Mary Grayland who married John Amphitt at St Phillips Birmingham, on December 30th 1784, and James Gralin who was recorded at St Mary's Rotherhithe, on November 12th 1800. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as the 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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