This unusual and interesting name is of English locational origin, from the Midlands region particularly, from some small place named as "Great Rakes". The derivation is from the Northern Middle English "great", meaning "large", Old English pre 7th Century "great", plus "rake", meaning "path" or "track". In Derbyshire, the term "rake" is used in a lead-mining sense to mean "a vertical vein of ore" and from this sense several lead-mines were named, including the "Greatrake Mine" in Carsington. Any of these could be the source of the surname.On November 26th 1573 Maria Greatracks an infant, was christened in Derby, and on August 23rd 1599 Annae, daughter of William Gratrake was christened in Ugborough, Devonshire. Spellings of the surname include Greatrex, Greatorex, Greatreax, Greatex, Greatricks, Greatorex etc.. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Richard Greatrix, married Alice Bond, which was dated 5th July 1571, St. Dunstan in the East, London, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, "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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