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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2016


The Greathead surname comes from the Old English words "great" or "large" and "heafod," meaning "head." It is supposed that this was originally a nickname for someone with a large head, which was later taken on as a surname.

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Spelling variations of this family name include: Greathead, Greathed, Greathouse, Greatus, Grethed, Grethouse and many more.

First found in Yorkshire where they held a family seat as Lords of the Manor. The Saxon influence of English history diminished after the Battle of Hastings in 1066. The language of the courts was French for the next three centuries and the Norman ambience prevailed. But Saxon surnames survived and the family name was first referenced in the year 1351 when Thomas Grethed held estates at Whitby.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Greathead research. Another 268 words (19 lines of text) covering the years 1455 and 1487 are included under the topic Early Greathead History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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More information is included under the topic Early Greathead Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Greathead Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century


  • George Greathead landed in Wellington, New Zealand in 1840
  • George Greathead, aged 28, arrived in Nelson aboard the ship "Martha Ridgway" in 1842
  • Dorothy Greathead, aged 30, arrived in Nelson aboard the ship "Martha Ridgway" in 1842
  • William Greathead, aged 3, arrived in Nelson aboard the ship "Martha Ridgway" in 1842
  • George Henry Greathead, aged 1, arrived in Nelson aboard the ship "Martha Ridgway" in 1842


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  • James Henry Greathead (1844-1896), engineer renowned for his work on the London Underground
  • Henry Greathead (1757-1818), British boat builder


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  1. Thirsk, Joan. The Agrarian History of England and Wales. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: 7 Volumes. Print.
  2. Egle, William Henry. Pennsylvania Genealogies Scotch-Irish and German. Harrisburg: L.S. Hart, 1886. Print.
  3. Hanks, Hodges, Mills and Room. The Oxford Names Companion. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002. Print. (ISBN 0-19-860561-7).
  4. Bradford, William. History of Plymouth Plantation 1620-1647 Edited by Samuel Eliot Morrison 2 Volumes. New York: Russell and Russell, 1968. Print.
  5. Shaw, William A. Knights of England A Complete Record from the Earliest Time to the Present Day of the Knights of all the Orders of Chivalry in England, Scotland, Ireland and Knights Bachelors 2 Volumes. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print. (ISBN 080630443X).
  6. Robb H. Amanda and Andrew Chesler. Encyclopedia of American Family Names. New York: Haper Collins, 1995. Print. (ISBN 0-06-270075-8).
  7. Humble, Richard. The Fall of Saxon England. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-88029-987-8).
  8. Hanks, Patricia and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Print. (ISBN 0-19-211592-8).
  9. Crispin, M. Jackson and Leonce Mary. Falaise Roll Recording Prominent Companions of William Duke of Normandy at the Conquest of England. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  10. Marcharn, Frederick George. A Constitutional History of Modern England 1485 to the Present. London: Harper and Brothers, 1960. Print.
  11. ...

The Greathead Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Greathead Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 22 December 2010 at 14:50.

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