This unusual surname is of Germanic origin, and is an occupational name for a digger of graves or ditches, or an engraver of seals, from an agent derivative of the Germanic "graben", to dig, excavate, ultimately from the Old High German "graban". Job descriptive surnames originally denoted the actual occupation of the namebearer, and later became hereditary. In some instances, the name may be an Ashkenazic occupational name for a grave digger, from the Yiddish "greber", to excavate. The first hereditary surnames on German soil are found in the second half of the 12th Century, slightly later than in England and France; however, it was not until the 16th Century that they became stabilized. Names derived from occupations and from nicknames are particularly widespread in Germany. A number of these are also Jewish. Graber, with variant spellings Graeber, Greber, Grabert, Grebert, and Grebner, is particularly well recorded in Church Registers of Bayern, Wuertt and Westfalen. On October 30th 1717, Carolus, son of Joseph Graber and Ursula Zigler, was christened in Dietelhofen, Donaukreis, Wuertt, and on November 18th 1866, Thomas Henry Graber, an infant, was christened at St. Luke's, Old Street, Finsbury, London. An early Coat of Arms granted to the Graber family depicts a black bend on a gold shield. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Fabian Grebner, which was dated February 22nd 1557, marriage to Dorothea Meyer, at Grossrueckerswalde, Chemnitz, Sachsen, Germany, during the reign of Charles V, known as "The Habsburg Emperor", 1519 - 1558. 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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