There are a number of ways of spelling this English surname including Greatbach, Greatback, and Greatbatch. However spelt all share the same origin. And there lies the rub, what is the origin? We believe that the name may have been a medieval nickname for a person with a broad back, or some other distinctive physical appearance, but is so we have been unable to find an medieval recordings to support such a hypothesis, and we therefore conclude based upon examination of the relevant records, that it is locational. We have not however been able to find any such place although 'Great Barugh' near Pickering in North Yorkshire, is a possible candidate. The local pronunciation in the Middle Ages was 'Great Bach', and even today the village of 'Barugh Green' near Barnsley in South Yorkshire is pronounced 'Bark Green'. If this is not the case then the name probably derives from a 'lost' medieval hamlet of which the only reminder today of its existence is the surname. Locational surnames were usually given to people after they left their former homes, this action in itself being a source of mis-spelling. Examples of early surname recordings include Thomas Greatbach at St Mary Aldermary, London, on February 6th 1630, whilst on April 5th 1632, at the same church, the same Thomas is recorded as 'Greatbatch'. On April 7th 1828 William Greatback married Fanny Lewis at St Katherines Creechurch, London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Anne Greatbatch, which was dated May 14th 1599, married at St Mary Aldermary, London, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1st, 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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