Recorded in many forms including: Grim, Grimm, Grime, Grimes, Grima, Grimar, Grimmer and the dialectal Grimster, this is an Anglo-German surname, with some French input. It was introduced into England after the Norman Conquest of 1066, with the derivation being from a Germanic and French personal name "Grimier". It was composed of the pre 7th century elements "grimr", meaning a mask or helmet, and "heri", an army. In some instances the derivation may be Old High German from "grimmr", meaning stern or severe. The creation of surnames from nicknames was a common practice in the Middle Ages, and many modern-day surnames derive from medieval nicknames referring to personal characteristics. Early examples of the surname recordings include Godwin Grim in the Pipe Rolls of Norfolk in 1170, Ernst Grim of Ursberg, Germany, in 1171, Alan Grime in the Hundred Rolls of Cambridgeshire in 1279, and Herman Grymar in the charters of Homberg, Germany, in 1370. Later recordings from English church registers include: Jone Grimmar and George Butterfeild, who were married on April 15th 1623, at St. Peter's Cornhill, London; the marriage of Anne Grimmer and Edward Wigg on January 10th 1662, at All Saints, Norwich, Norfolk; and the wedding of Elijah Grimster to Jane Gardner at St Pancras Old Church, in the city of London on September 18th 1849. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Edricus Grimma. This was dated 1086, in the Domesday Book of Suffolk. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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