Greathead History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

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. [1]

Early Origins of the Greathead family

The surname Greathead was first found in Berkshire where John Gretheved was listed in 1278. Later Thomas Gretehed was listed as Whitby, Yorkshire in 1351. [2]

Agnes Gretheyed, was listed in Lincolnshire, temp. Edward I and Peter Gretheyed, was listed in the Close Rolls, 17 Edward III (during the 17th year of King Edward III's reign.) The Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls of 1379 had two listings of the family: Hugo Grethed; and Willelmus Gretehed. Both held lands there at that time. [3]

One source claims the name is from "Graithwaite; a location name in Lancashire." [4]

Up in Scotland, "Matthew Gietheuith or Greatheued was alderman and provost of Aberdeen between 1271 and 1281. In 1271 he appears as Matthew Grossetechte (for French Grosstete) and in a charter of c. 1281 as Grethenith, an error for Gretheuith." [5]

Early History of the Greathead family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Greathead research. Another 105 words (8 lines of text) covering the years 1296, 1343, 1345, 1541, 1619 and 1755 are included under the topic Early Greathead History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Greathead Spelling Variations

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

Early Notables of the Greathead family (pre 1700)

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


New Zealand Greathead migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Greathead Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • George Greathead, who landed in Wellington, New Zealand in 1840
  • George Greathead, aged 28, who arrived in Nelson, New Zealand aboard the ship "Martha Ridgway" in 1842
  • Dorothy Greathead, aged 30, who arrived in Nelson, New Zealand aboard the ship "Martha Ridgway" in 1842
  • William Greathead, aged 3, who arrived in Nelson, New Zealand aboard the ship "Martha Ridgway" in 1842
  • George Henry Greathead, aged 1, who arrived in Nelson, New Zealand aboard the ship "Martha Ridgway" in 1842
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Greathead (post 1700) +

  • Henry Greathead (1757-1818), English lifeboat inventor, a twin child, born at Richmond, Yorkshire, on 27 Jan. 1757 where his father, was in the civil service [6]
  • James Henry Greathead (1844-1896), British engineer renowned for his work on the London Underground


  1. ^ Harrison, Henry, Surnames of the United Kingdom: A Concise Etymological Dictionary Baltimore: Geneological Publishing Company, 2013. Print
  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. ^ Barber, Henry, British Family Names London: Elliot Stock, 62 Paternoster Row, 1894. Print.
  5. ^ Black, George F., The Surnames of Scotland Their Origin, Meaning and History. New York: New York Public Library, 1946. Print. (ISBN 0-87104-172-3)
  6. ^ Wikisource contributors. "Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900." Wikisource . Wikisource , 4 Jun. 2018. Web. 30 June 2020


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