Graham last name popularity, history, and meaning

Find out how popular the last name Graham is in the United States and learn more about the meaning, history, and race and ethnic origin of people in America who are named Graham.

Meaning of Graham

A Scottish surname referring to someone who lived on a gravel homestead or near a gravelly stream.

Graham, like all of the last names we have data for, is identified by the U.S. Census Bureau as a surname which has more than 100 occurrences in the United States in the Decennial Census survey. The most recent statistics we have for the Graham surname is from the 2010 census data.

Popularity of Graham in America

Graham is the 120th most popular name in America based on the data we have collected from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The Graham surname appeared 201,159 times in the 2010 census and if you were to sample 100,000 people in the United States, approximately 68 people would have the surname Graham.

We can also compare 2010 data for Graham to data from the previous census in 2000. The table below contains all of the statistics for both years in a side-by-side comparison.

2010 2000 Change (%)
Rank 120 108 10.53%
Count 201,159 194,074 3.59%
Proportion per 100k 68.19 71.94 -5.35%

The history of the last name Graham

The surname Graham has its origins in Scotland, emerging during the Middle Ages. It is derived from the Gaelic term "gramach," which means "grayman" or "gray man," potentially referring to an individual with gray hair or clothing. The name was initially associated with the Anglo-Norman territory of Grahame in the Scottish Borders region.

In the 12th century, the Graham family rose to prominence when Sir William de Graham received lands in Ayrshire from King David I of Scotland. This established the Grahams as a powerful clan in the region. The name is recorded in various historical documents, including the Ragman Rolls of 1296, which contain the names of Scottish landowners who swore allegiance to King Edward I of England.

One of the earliest recorded instances of the name can be found in the Domesday Book of 1086, where it appears as "Graham." This suggests that the name may have originated in England before spreading to Scotland. The Graham family's presence in England is also evidenced by the existence of Graham's Town, a village in Northumberland.

Throughout history, several notable individuals have borne the surname Graham. Sir John Graham of Dundaff (1549-1622) was a prominent Scottish statesman and diplomat during the reigns of James VI and Charles I. James Graham, 1st Marquess of Montrose (1612-1650), was a renowned Scottish military leader and royalist during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms.

John Graham of Claverhouse (1648-1689), better known as "Bluidy Clavers," was a Scottish soldier and nobleman who played a pivotal role in the Killing Times, a period of religious persecution in Scotland. Robert Graham (1786-1845) was a Scottish chemist and physician who made significant contributions to the study of molecular diffusion.

Martha Graham (1894-1991) was an influential American modern dancer and choreographer who revolutionized dance in the 20th century. Her innovative techniques and choreography had a profound impact on the art form.

The Graham surname has evolved over time, with various spelling variations emerging, such as Grahame, Graeme, and Gram. These variations can be traced back to different regions and historical periods. Additionally, the name has been associated with several place names, such as Grahams Town in South Africa and Graham County in Arizona, United States.

Race and ethnic origin of people with the last name Graham

We also have some data on the ancestry of people with the surname Graham.

The below race categories are the modified race categories used in the Census Bureau's population estimates program. All people were categorized into six mutually exclusive racial and Hispanic origin groups:

  1. White only
  2. Black only
  3. American Indian and Alaskan Native only
  4. Asian and Pacific Islander only
  5. Hispanic
  6. Two or More Races

For the most recent 2010 census data, the race/ethnic origin breakdown for Graham was:

Race/Ethnicity Percentage Total Occurrences
Non-Hispanic White Only 70.02% 140,852
Non-Hispanic Black Only 23.99% 48,258
Non-Hispanic Asian and Pacific Islander Only 0.51% 1,026
Non-Hispanic American Indian and Alaskan Native 0.80% 1,609
Non-Hispanic of Two or More Races 2.13% 4,285
Hispanic Origin 2.55% 5,130

Note: Any fields showing (S) means the data was suppressed for privacy so that the data does not in any way identify any specific individuals.

Since we have data from the previous census in 2000, we can also compare the values to see how the popularity of Graham has changed in the 10 years between the two census surveys.

2010 2000 Change (%)
White 70.02% 72.84% -3.95%
Black 23.99% 22.72% 5.44%
Asian and Pacific Islander 0.51% 0.42% 19.35%
American Indian and Alaskan Native 0.80% 0.77% 3.82%
Two or More Races 2.13% 1.61% 27.81%
Hispanic 2.55% 1.64% 43.44%

Data source

The last name data and ethnic breakdown of last names is sourced directly from the Decennial Census survey, conducted every 10 years by the United States Census Bureau.

The history and meaning of the name Graham was researched and written by our team of onomatology and genealogy experts.

If you have a correction or suggestion to improve the history of Graham, please contact us.

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"Graham last name popularity, history, and meaning". Accessed on July 14, 2024.

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