Gratrix Genealogy

The Gratrix Surname

I must begin by thanking the late Norm Ashton and David T Greatorex who have given me help from time to time. I now give two accounts of the origin of the name Gratrix, and the more common spelling Greatorex:

The Gretraches-Derbyshire Theory

This version is based on the premise that the root name was Gretraches or Greatrakes, and all of the others, such as Gratrix and Greatorex, are variants of this name. This theory holds that the surname has a placename origin, first recorded in the Derbyshire Archives in the year 1251 as GRET (E) RACHES, a small farming settlement founded sometime in the late 11th century or early 12th. The settlement is situated between Buxton and Tideswell and is now known as Great Rocks Dale. In modern times Great Rocks has been a small hamlet consisting of just a handful of farms, and was even smaller still in the medieval period.

As this area was formerly part of the Danelaw, the people would be mainly of Scandinavian origin. It is contended that the name is a blend of 'Great' and 'raches' or 'rakes', which meant a vertical view of lead ore. As it happens the name Greatrakes appears often in the Midland mining areas. It is also the name of the large feudal estate that grew out of GRET (E) RACHES and was mentioned in the Derbyshire Charters in 1364.

The Flemish-Lancashire Theory

Apparently in the 14th century several families of Protestant Flemish textile workers were encouraged to settle in Lancashire in order to add a measure of continental skill to the newly expanding textile industry, as well as to provide them with some security from the persecution of Spanish Roman Catholics. One result of this move is the presence of many similar names, such as Gratrix, Greatorex, Greatricks, etc., all having their origins in this 14th century migration.

Surname Distribution Maps

The distribution of postal areas where the surnames Gratrix and Greatorex were most prevalent in 1881 are shown below. The surname Gratrix is mostly around Lancashire, and the surname Greatorex is mostly around Derbyshire and London.

Since I have not researched this topic, and am only reporting what I have been told, I can not say which of the two theories is the most likely, nor how the Lancashire and Derbyshire distributions came about. The general consensus is that the The Gretraches-Derbyshire Theory is more plausible, well, more researched anyway!

The Pendleton Pair

I believe I am a descendant of Richard Gratrix who was born in Pendleton, Lancashire, around the year 1799. Norm believes he is descended from an Edward Gratrix of Pendleton, born around 1801. Both Norm and I have little other information on the origins of Richard and Edward - whether they are brothers and who their parents are is the big question concerning our Gratrix trees.

I now give a brief account concerning the Gratrix line from Richard to myself. Further details concerning people associated to this line as well as the line from Edward can be found on Norm's site. Both Norm and I would very much like to hear from anybody who thinks they are related, or who can help us in anyway, or is a Gratrix and just wants to say hi! Please note that the information I present is very likely to incomplete and probably contains errors.

Richard Gratrix & Maria Stones

Shown below is the earliest information I currently have on Richard Gratrix, namely the birth certificate of (what I think is) his fifth son Thomas. Here, the name 'Gratriex' should probably be spelt Gratrix as Richard Gratrix is apparently illiterate since he signed with his mark. Also note that the birth date is just within the six week registration limit, so the actual birth date of September the 2nd maybe incorrect. I believe I am a descendant of Thomas.

The four eldest children of Richard and Maria are: John, William, James and David. After Thomas there is Caroline, Sarah Ann, Richard and Edwin. Below are two sets of data taken from the International Genealogical Index showing the family.

The 1851 Census, shown below, confirms that they are the same family. I assume the birth date of Richard in the IGI information above is a projection based on Maria's age at marriage. I guess they moved from Worsley to Tyldesley and hence the two sets of IGI records.

In the 1851 Census I think the age for Richard Gratrix junior should be in months. Some of the family are listed in the 1861 Census shown below.

Some of the family are listed in the 1871 Census shown below.

Richard and Maria are listed in the 1881 Census shown below.

Richard died in the early months of 1883. John married Ann, and became a cabinet maker. William married Eliza, and worked as a mill manager and then as a pipe manufacturer. James married Ellen, and worked as a cotton factory worker and then as a cotton carder. David appears to have married twice, to Mary Amelia Augusta Wilson in 1860 and then Eliza Lever in 1876. He became a bedding manufacturer employing two men and one woman. The family of Thomas is discussed in the next section. Caroline married twice, first to James Crompton in 1867 and then to John Bennett in 1878. Sarah Ann became a cotton winder. Richard first worked as a book keeper then as a mattress maker and retired as an upholsterer. Edwin worked as a cotton operative then as a cotton carder.

Thomas Gratrix & Elizabeth Farnworth

Thomas Gratrix married Elizabeth Farnworth and they had seven children: John Thomas, Richard, Martha Ellen, Sarah Ann, Elizabeth Ann, Samuel and David. Most of the family can be seen below in the 1871 and 1881 census transcripts, where it should be noted that that Gratril should be Gratrix and 'Mosely' is actually spelt 'Mosley' (a common near Tyldesley).

The births of Martha Ellen and Sarah Ann appear to have been registered at the same time suggesting that they are twin sisters. It is possible that Sarah Ann was named after her aunt Sarah Ann who may have died in the summer of 1971 at the age of 24 or 25. Judging from the death index data it then appears that Sarah Ann and her brother Richard died soon after. 1971 seems to have been a terrible time for the family. Note that the next child Elizabeth Ann also takes the middle name Ann.

Sadly it seems that David died in the spring of 1881, aged three. In the 1891 Census, which is shown below, Elizabeth is now a widow and the family is living at 2A Parlington Crescent, Farnworth. By this time John Thomas had moved out - he is my Granddad's Granddad, so we'll talk more about him in the next section. Cotton winding Elizabeth Ann is incorrectly listed as Elizabeth E in the census, and we will see that she lives or is visiting John Thomas in 1901. At this moment I do not know what relation the lodgers Ellen and Henry are.

Martha Ellen married a travelling dentist Albert Edward D Newton in Bolton in 1900. In 1901 they lived at 30 Starrcliffe Street, Bolton, and had a baby boy who was also called Albert. Samuel is listed as a 'Picker Of Cotton Blankets' in the 1901 census and was living with or maybe just visiting Martha and Albert in 1901.

John Thomas Gratrix & Alice Tonge

John Thomas Gratrix married Alice Tonge of Adlington towards the end of 1888 in Bolton. By the 1891 Census (below) they had left their home county of Lancashire to live in Bromborough - a town on the eastern side of The Wirral, Cheshire. Their first child Ethelinda was born about 1889 but seems not to be at her parents house on the night of the census. Ethelinda married Samuel Thomas Benson in 1914.

The family of John Thomas and Alice is given fully in the 1901 census shown below, where Elizabeth Ann - sister of John Thomas - was either living with or visiting. John Thomas has moved on from working in the cotton industry and has become an engineer on a steam ship.

David married a lady called Martha and they had children Catherine and Doris. Doris married Jack Jones who played for Everton Football Club. William Henry is my great-granddad and was born in March 1893. Shown below is his birth certificate.

John Thomas and Alice had their final child Stanley in 1905.

William Henry Gratrix & Mabel Hayward

William Henry married Mabel Hayward, born July 1893. They are pictured below.

They had five children, the eldest of whom is my Granddad.

Sam and Laura's Family Tree

Have a look at our family history research here.

Useful Genealogy Links

Census images, GRO BMD index, and more -
Free GRO BMD (partial) index -
Local BMD resources -
International Genealogy Index, and more -
Surname Profiler -