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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2014

Where did the Scottish Gray family come from? What is the Scottish Gray family crest and coat of arms? When did the Gray family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Gray family history?

Gray is a name, who ancestors come from the noble Boernician clans of the Scottish-English border region. It is a name for a person who had gray hair. In Scotland, the surname Gray actually came from two different derivations. As a nickname, it came from the Gaelic word riabhach, which means gray. As a habitational name, it derived from the place named Graye, in Calvados. This place-name came from the Gallo-Roman personal name, Gratus, which means welcome or pleasing. Gray is therefore a nickname and a habitation name, which belongs to the category of hereditary surnames. Nicknames form a broad and miscellaneous class of surnames, and can refer directly or indirectly to one's personality, physical attributes, mannerisms, or even their habits of dress. Habitation names are one of several types of local names, including: topographic surnames, which could be given to a person who lived beside any physical feature, such as a hill, stream, church or type of tree. Members of the Gray family were first found in Northumberland.


Boernician names that evolved in the largely preliterate Middle Ages are often marked by considerable spelling variations. Gray has been spelled Gray, Grey, Groy, Croy, Graye and others.

First found in Northumberland, with Anschatel Groy of Haute Saone, Normandy, who fought with William the Conqueror in 1066 AD. After the conquest, Anschatel Groy settled in Chillingham, Northumberland. He was from the department of Haute Saone called Gray, sometimes Groy, or Croy, in Normandy. From this house sprang the Grays of Suffolk, Kent, Tankerville, and Stamford. Some of the earliest records of the name include: Richard de Grey (born c. 1140); and his son, Sir Henry de Grey of Grays Thurrock, Essex (1155-1219), a favourite courtier of King John of England; and his son, Richard de Grey (died 1271) of Codnor, Derbyshire, Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports in 1258; and his brother Sir John de Grey (died 1266), an English soldier and High Sheriff of Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire (1238-1239) and of High Sheriff of Herefordshire (1252-1253). John de Gray (died 1214) was Bishop of Norwich in Norfolk, and later became Archbishop of Canterbury, but was never confirmed.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Gray research. Another 237 words(17 lines of text) covering the years 1248, 1250, 1296, 1390, 1469, 1445, 1387, 1439, 1416, 1490, 1451, 1501, 1454, 1505, 1490, 1505, 1590, 1660, 1599, 1673, 1611, 1676, 1660, 1676, 1623, 1657, 1674, 1621, 1622 and are included under the topic Early Gray History in all our PDF Extended History products.


Another 397 words(28 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Gray Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


Some of the Gray family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 109 words(8 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.


Some of the Boernician-Scottish Clan families who came to North America were Loyalists who went north to Canada after the American War of Independence. Families on both sides of the border went on to found two of the world's great nations. This century, families with Scottish roots have rediscovered their heritage through highland games and clan societies. An inquiry into the early roots of North American families reveals a number of immigrants bearing the name Gray or a variant listed above:

Gray Settlers in the United States in the 17th Century

  • Abraham Gray, who landed in America in 1620
  • Stephen Gray, who landed in Maryland in 1634-1641
  • Francis Gray who settled in Virginia in 1635 with his wife Alice
  • Tha Gray, who landed in Virginia in 1638
  • Alice Gray, who landed in Virginia in 1650

Gray Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century

  • Sarah Gray, who landed in Virginia in 1722

Gray Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century

  • Walter Gray, who landed in New York, NY in 1811
  • William Gray, who arrived in Charleston, South Carolina in 1813
  • Zachariah Gray, who landed in New York in 1834
  • Adam Gray, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1836
  • Adolph Gray, aged 36, arrived in Missouri in 1840


  • George William Gray CBE, FRS (b. 1926), Professor of Organic Chemistry who was instrumental in developing the long-lasting materials which made liquid crystal displays possible
  • Alfred Gray (1939-1998), American mathematician
  • Bowman Gray Sr. (1874-1935), American former president and chairman of R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company
  • Carl R. Gray (1867-1939), American president of the Union Pacific Railroad (UP) 1920-1937
  • Sergeant Ross Franklin Gray (1920-1945), American soldier awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in 1945 for his heroic service in the Battle of Iwo Jima during World War II
  • Gordon Gray (1909-1982), American recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom
  • Harry Barkus Gray (b. 1935), American chemist awarded the Priestley Medal in 1991, The Benjamin Franklin Medal in Chemistry and the Wolf Prize in Chemistry in 2004
  • Major-General Carl Raymond Jr. Gray (1889-1955), American Administrator of Veterans Affairs (1947-1953)
  • Alasdair Gray (b. 1934), Scottish writer and artist
  • Professor Sir Alexander Gray (1882-1968), Scottish economist, academic, translator writer and poet



  • Direct Ancestors of the Parker and Gray Families by Elizabeth Gray Parker.
  • A Family History, Gray-Avery and Related Families by Lewis and Ruby Gray.

Gray Clan Badge
Gray Clan Badge

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A clan is a social group made up of a number of distinct branch-families that actually descended from, or accepted themselves as descendants of, a common ancestor. The word clan means simply children. The idea of the clan as a community is necessarily based around this idea of heredity and is most often ruled according to a patriarchal structure. For instance, the clan chief represented the hereditary "parent" of the entire clan. The most prominent example of this form of society is the Scottish Clan system...


Septs of the Distinguished Name Gray
Gray, Graye, Grays, Groy and more.


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  1. Bell, Robert. The Book of Ulster Surnames. Belfast: Blackstaff, 1988. Print. (ISBN 10-0856404160).
  2. Le Patourel, John. The Norman Empire. New York: Oxford University Press, 1976. Print. (ISBN 0-19-822525-3).
  3. Filby, P. William and Mary K Meyer. Passenger and Immigration Lists Index in Four Volumes. Detroit: Gale Research, 1985. Print. (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8).
  4. Magnusson, Magnus. Chambers Biographical Dictionary 5th edition. Edinburgh: W & R Chambers, 1990. Print.
  5. Bolton, Charles Knowles. Scotch Irish Pioneers In Ulster and America. Montana: Kessinger Publishing. Print.
  6. Burke, John Bernard Ed. The Roll of Battle Abbey. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  7. Hanks, Patricia and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Print. (ISBN 0-19-211592-8).
  8. Skordas, Guest. Ed. The Early Settlers of Maryland an Index to Names or Immigrants Complied from Records of Land Patents 1633-1680 in the Hall of Records Annapolis, Maryland. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1968. Print.
  9. Bradford, William. History of Plymouth Plantation 1620-1647 Edited by Samuel Eliot Morrison 2 Volumes. New York: Russell and Russell, 1968. Print.
  10. Leyburn, James Graham. The Scotch-Irish A Social History. Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 1962. Print. (ISBN 0807842591).
  11. ...

The Gray Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Gray Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 13 October 2014 at 22:33.

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