Show ContentsGrafton History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Grafton is a name of ancient Anglo-Saxon origin and comes from the family once having lived in one of many places names Grafton.

The surname Grafton is a habitational surname, which was given to a person who resided near a physical feature such as a hill, stream, church, or type of tree. The name was derived from the Old English word graf meaning "gorve" and tun meaning "enclosure." [1]

Early Origins of the Grafton family

The surname Grafton was first found in Leicestershire where William de Graftona was listed in the Pipe Rolls of 1130. Later John de Grafton was listed in the Subsidy Rolls of Worcestershire c. 1280 and John Grafton was found in the Feet of Fines for Essex in 1443. [2]

In Marton-cum-Grafton, a parish three miles from Boroughbridge, in the liberty of Knaresborough in Yorkshire, the following early rolls noted the family estates. The Freemen of York listed William de Grafton, 2 Edward II (during the second year of King Edward II's reign) and the Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls of 1379 included: Robertus de Grafton; and Alicia de Grafton, 1379. [3]

Early History of the Grafton family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Grafton research. Another 101 words (7 lines of text) covering the years 1198, 1480, 1511, 1535, 1537, 1572 and 1675 are included under the topic Early Grafton History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Grafton Spelling Variations

Sound was what guided spelling in the essentially pre-literate Middle Ages, so one person's name was often recorded under several variations during a single lifetime. Also, before the advent of the printing press and the first dictionaries, the English language was not standardized. Therefore, spelling variations were common, even among the names of the most literate people. Known variations of the Grafton family name include Grafton, Graphton, Graffton and others.

Early Notables of the Grafton family

Notables of the family at this time include

  • Richard Grafton (1511-1572), member of the Grocers' Company and was the King's Printer under Henry VIII and Edward VI...
  • In 1537 Grafton, in association with a fellow-merchant, Edward Whitchurch, caused a modification of Coverdale's translation to be printed, probably by Jacob van Meteren, at Antwerp...

Grafton Ranking

In the United States, the name Grafton is the 9,964th most popular surname with an estimated 2,487 people with that name. [4]

United States Grafton migration to the United States +

For political, religious, and economic reasons, thousands of English families boarded ships for Ireland, Canada, the America colonies, and many of smaller tropical colonies in the hope of finding better lives abroad. Although the passage on the cramped, dank ships caused many to arrive in the New World diseased and starving, those families that survived the trip often went on to make valuable contributions to those new societies to which they arrived. Early immigrants bearing the Grafton surname or a spelling variation of the name include:

Grafton Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • James Grafton, aged 22, who arrived in Virginia in 1634 aboard the ship "Bonaventure" coming via St. Domingo [5]
  • John Grafton, who settled in Virginia in 1653
  • Joseph Grafton, who settled in New England in 1680
Grafton Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Thomas Grafton, who settled in Boston Massachusetts in 1766
  • John Grafton, who settled in Carolina in 1774
  • Daniel Grafton, who arrived in Mississippi in 1799 [5]
  • Daniel, Grafton Jr., who landed in Mississippi in 1799 [5]

Canada Grafton migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Grafton Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • John Grafton, who landed in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1843
  • John Grafton, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1844

Australia Grafton migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Grafton Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. John Grafton, British Convict who was convicted in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, England for 7 years, transported aboard the "Elizabeth" on 11th August 1820, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [6]
  • Richard Grafton, English convict from Lancaster, who was transported aboard the "America" on April 4, 1829, settling in New South Wales, Australia [7]

Contemporary Notables of the name Grafton (post 1700) +

  • Joseph Grafton (1757-1836), American founder of the Newton Theological Institution
  • Cornelius Warren "Chip" Grafton (1909-1982), American crime novelist
  • Sue Taylor Grafton (b. 1940), contemporary American author of detective novels
  • Anthony Grafton (b. 1950), American historian, fellow of the British Academy and a recipient of the Balzan Prize in 2002
  • James Douglas "Jimmy" Grafton (1916-1986), English producer, writer and theatrical agent
  • Frederick William Grafton (1816-1890), British industrialist and Liberal politician
  • Joseph Grafton Gall (b. 1928), American Professor of Biology, Connecticut
  • Grafton Francis Bothamley (1880-1956), New Zealand politician, eighth Clerk of the New Zealand House of Representatives
  • Grafton Munroe, American politician, Postmaster at Annapolis, Maryland, 1825-29 [8]
  • Grafton Dulany Cushing (1864-1939), American politician, the 45th Lieutenant Governor for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts from 1915 to 1916

Empress of Ireland
  • Mrs. Susanna Grafton (1836-1914), née Woodbridge Canadian Second Class Passenger from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada who was traveling aboard the Empress of Ireland and died in the sinking [9]
Halifax Explosion
Victoria steamboat disaster
  • Mary Ann Grafton, Canadian passenger who was killed in the Victoria steamboat disaster when the boat capsized in 1881

  1. Mills, A.D., Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-19-869156-4)
  2. Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  3. Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  4. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?".,
  5. Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  6. Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 3rd March 2022). Retrieved from
  7. State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2014, November 26) America voyage to New South Wales, Australia in 1829 with 176 passengers. Retrieved from
  8. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, November 2) . Retrieved from
  9. Commemoration Empress of Ireland 2014. (Retrieved 2014, June 16) . Retrieved from
  10. Halifax Explosion Book of Remembrance | Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. (Retrieved 2014, June 23) . Retrieved from on Facebook