Graham – from Britain, Scotland, Ireland and beyond


The surname Graham is fairly frequent in Ireland and is one of the 100 most common in the country.

There are also thousands of people named Graham in the UK, North America, Australia and the rest of the world.

Although the name has now become prominent in all parts of the world, it actually originates from Britain during the Anglo-Saxon era.
It is believed that the name Graham comes from the Olde English words for the homestead (ham) and gravel (grand).

Names were often given to people based on their residence, or appearance so the name Grandham would have been given to a person who lived on, or came from a stoney area. It is believed that the stoney area in this case could be Grantham in Lincolnshire, England.

Over time, the name evolved into Graham because of its more simple pronunciation.

The name was spread across Britain by Norman baron William de Graham, a knight who held a large estate in Lincolnshire

De Graham supported King David I when he claimed the Scottish crown in the 12th century, and was rewarded with a large estate in Edinburgh.

This made de Graham the founder of the Graham clan.

Graham arrives in Ireland

The name moved to Ireland in the 17th century when thousands of Scots settled as part of the British plantations. King James I wanted to place a strong British influence in Ireland and many of the local Gaelic tribes were displaced to make room for the British settlers.
The Grahams settled mainly in Co Westmeath where the name is still prominent today.

Over time, the Graham clan spread across Ireland and became integrated into local communities.

When names began to be recorded, a few different versions of the name were created due to the varying pronunciations, and interpretations from one place to another. Variants of the name include Graham, Graeme, Gormley and Grehan.

The name spread across the world during the mid-1800s when a series of failed potato crops forced millions to leave Ireland to survive.

Famous Grahams around the world

Throughout history, there have been many notable people named Graham from the world of science, politics, sport and entertainment.
Heather Graham is an American actress who has starred in several blockbuster Hollywood movies including Austin Powers, From Hell and The Hangover.

Mikey Graham was a member of Irish boyband Boyzone, who enjoyed huge success in the 1990s and 2000s.

British actor Stephen Graham has starred in several films and television programmes, most notably as Al Capone in the HBO series Boardwalk Empire.

Irish names and their meanings