Recorded in many spelling forms including Gras, Grass, Gres, Gress, Graser, Grasser, Greser, Gresser and Grice, this very interesting surname has several possible origins. It can be German, French or English, the same spellings appearing in all three countries in the medieval period. These origins suggest that it can be locational from the famous city of Gras, and that certainly seems to apply to the recording of Hans Gras of Eglisau, Zurich, in the charters of Zurich in 1439. The second possibility is that for many name holders the surname describes a farmer, one who made his living from working the grass lands or pastures. Both the place name and the pasture originate from the Old German word 'grass' of the pre 7th century. The third possibility certainly in France and England, is that the name derives from the Middle English and Old French word "grace", meaning charming or pleasant, and ultimately from the Latin "gratia", whilst the last option is female from the given name "Grace", which was popular during the Middle Ages. This again has a French origin from "gris" meaning grey. The surname development includes Gilbert Gracye of Sussex, England in the year 1296, and Johan Greser of Weilburg, Germany in 1584. George Grace was one of the earliest emigrant to the new American colonies. He embarked from London on the ship "Globe" in August 1635, bound for Virginia. The first recorded spelling of the family name is believed to be that of Henry Grece, which was dated 1275, in the charters known as 'The Hundred Rolls' of the county of Northamptonshire. This was during the reign of King Edward 1st, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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