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Graham

Graham

From FHM issue 152

What’s in a name? Graham

Most scholars agree that although Graham is a surname associated today with Scotland, its origins lie south of the border. William de Graham was the son of a Norman baron who had come to England with William the Conqueror in 1066, and was granted lands around Grantham, Lincolnshire. Graham was a shortened version of Grantham – it is spelled this way in the Domesday Book – and when the young William went to Scotland with King David I and prospered in Perthshire in the early 12th century, he took the name with him.

            The Grahams were not a Highland clan but rather a Lowland family. It is the family name of the dukes of Montrose, including James, 1st Marquess of Montrose (1612–1650) who was appointed Lord Lieutenant of Scotland by Charles I during the English Civil War. John Graham of Claverhouse, 1st Viscount of Dundee (1648–1689), is a hero to many in Scotland, having led the first Jacobite rising.

             A recent study placed the surname as the 76th most common in Britain, though perhaps unsurprisingly it is more common in Scotland than anywhere else; there it is the 30th most common name, while in England, Wales and the Isle of Man it is only 103rd. The top area to find a Graham in both 1881 and 1998 was Carlisle in Cumbria – as can be seen from the maps below, Cumbria and the Scottish border counties have been popular haunts since 1881.

            Graham Land is found in Antarctica, named after Sir James Graham (born 1792) who was First Lord of the Admiralty in 1832 when the area was first sighted by explorers. Bearers of the name have won numerous awards, from the Victoria Cross and the US Medal of Honour for utmost bravery in battle, to the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.

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