Grassick – Origins of the Surname

This is a rare surname of Gaelic – Scottish origins. It derives from the word “griasaich” and can have several meanings including embroiderer, decorator and more latterly, shoe or hose maker. The surname is unusual in that it is occupational when most Gaelic names were patronymics, and based upon nicknames for the original chief of the clan. It is said that Grassick is most popular in the far north and specifically Aberdeenshire, where the pronunciation is as Gracey! As a result that there are spellings as Grassie and Grass, and indeed these seem to predate the actual Grassick recordings with that of John Grasse of Kirktoun of Crathe appearing in the tenants list in 1539. However it is more likely that earlier registers have gone missing, since the keeping of such items in the past was not given any great consideration. Other early examples of recordings include Donald Graycht at Lochalsh in 1548, Elspet Grassiche of Tullochaspak in 1612, and David Grassiche of Kepache. He was a bit of a lad who was accused of “violence” in 1617, although his fate is not known. Another to fall foul of the authorities was Alexander Gresiech of Towie in 1669. He was accused of curing cattle by charming them!

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2 Replies to “Grassick – Origins of the Surname”

  1. Hello Richard,
    My name is Norm Zimmer originally from Meriden, Connecticut USA. My paternal grand-parents were Isaac and Elsie Gracey née’ Anderson. Isaac, an immigrant from the Newry area of Ulster and Elsie born in Connecticut. Isaac came to Connecticut in the 1850’s. I was always told that the Gracey’s were Irish, but in the last year I’ve learned that the named likely originated in Scotland as Gruesaich or a variant. The research has led me to Dumfriesshire and now to Aberdeenshire. I’m fascinated with the geographic origins of the various Gracey’s, Gracie’s, and now Grassick’s. I’m interested in their history and their movements across Scotland and Ulster. My DNA is about 37% Scottish with a smaller percentage Irish so it makes sense the Gracey’s came to Ulster from Scotland. Very glad to have stumbled upon your blog and nice to read about your branches of the Grassick family. Were they a sept of Clan Farquarhson? Have they always been native to the Cairngorms and the Aberdeenshire area? Do you think there is any connection to the Gracey or Gracie families of Dumfriesshire or Ulster? I have hit a dead end rather quickly in my research on direct ancestors, but instead I’m concentrating on the name and geographic origins of the variations. I was particularly struck by the photo of you amongst the ruins at Rynelrick. Very cool! Thanks for your time. Regards, Norm Zimmer

    1. Hello Norm.
      Thanks for dropping in to my website. Yes, it’s fascinating trying to figure out exactly who we are and where our ancestors lived. Certainly there was considerable colonising of Ulster from Scotland in the 17th and 18th centuries, so I can imagine your family moving then. As for my own family, we have always worn the Farquharson tartan. It was handed down to me that we were shoemakers to the clan. I traced the family back to Rynelrick and the surrounding area, but couldn’t find anything farther back than 1820. It may well be that my ancestors were not baptised before then, and I suspect that churches didn’t keep records of every birth in their community (the only records available pre-1855 are parish records). So that is my dead end. However the Scotland’s People website is digitising more records all the time, so it’s worth popping back there every once in a while.

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