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

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

The story of the name Grey begins with a family in the Boernician tribe of the ancient Scottish-English border region. Grey is a name for a person who had gray hair. In Scotland, the surname Grey 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. Grey 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 Grey family were first found in Northumberland.

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A lack of rules and the tendency of scribes to spell according to the sound of the word plagued medieval spelling. Not surprisingly, an enormous number of spelling variations appeared. Grey has been written 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.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Grey 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 Grey History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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

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Some of the Grey 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.

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Many Scots crossed the Atlantic for North America hoping to escape poverty, as well as persecution. Much of their heritage was lost along the way and overtime. This century, however, Clan societies and highland games have allowed many ancestral Scots to recover their birthright. An examination of many early immigration records reveals that people bearing the name Grey arrived in North America very early:

Grey Settlers in the United States in the 17th Century


  • Daniel Grey settled in Virginia in 1654

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  • Jennifer Grey (b. 1960), Golden Globe nominated American actress, best known for playing Frances "Baby" Houseman in the 1987 hit film Dirty Dancing
  • Paris Grey (b. 1965), American singer
  • Al Grey (1925-2000), American jazz trombonist, best known for his work with the Count Basie orchestra
  • Brad Alan Grey (b. 1957), American chairman and CEO of Paramount Pictures (2005-)
  • Prime Minister Charles Grey KG, PC (1764-1835), 2nd Earl Grey, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (1830 -1834), Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (1806-1807), eponym of Earl Grey Tea
  • Albert Henry Grey GCMG, GCVO, PC (1851-1917), 4th Earl Grey, British nobleman, 9th Governor General of Canada from 1904 to 1911
  • Charles Grey KB (1729-1807), 1st Earl Grey, British General, father of Prime Minister Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey
  • Nigel de Grey (1886-1951), British code breaker
  • Ralph Grey GCMG, GCVO, OBE, GCSt.J, PC (1910-1999), Baron Grey of Naunton, the last Governor of Northern Ireland
  • Alan Grey, New Zealand silver medalist rower at the 1962 British Empire and Commonwealth Games

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  1. Holt, J.C. Ed. Domesday Studies. Woodbridge: Boydell, 1987. Print. (ISBN 0-85115-477-8).
  2. Fairbairn,. Fairbain's book of Crests of the Families of Great Britain and Ireland, 4th Edition 2 volumes in one. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1968. Print.
  3. Warner, Philip Warner. Famous Scottish Battles. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1996. Print. (ISBN 0-76070-004-4).
  4. Barrow, G.W.S Ed. The Charters of David I The Written Acts of David I King of Scots, 1124-53 and of His Son Henry, Earl of Northumerland, 1139-52. Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 1999. Print.
  5. Prebble, John. The Highland Clearances. London: Secker & Warburg, 1963. Print.
  6. Dorward, David. Scottish Surnames. Glasgow: Harper Collins, 1995. Print.
  7. Bolton, Charles Knowles. Bolton's American Armory. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1964. Print.
  8. Innes, Thomas and Learney. Socts Heraldry A Practical Handbook on the Historical Principles and Modern Application of the Art of Science. London: Oliver and Boyd, 1934. Print.
  9. Magnusson, Magnus. Chambers Biographical Dictionary 5th edition. Edinburgh: W & R Chambers, 1990. Print.
  10. Paul, Sir James Balfour. An Ordinary of Arms Contained in the Public Register of All Arms and Bearings in Scotland Second Edition. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1903. Print.
  11. ...

The Grey Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Grey 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 8 April 2014 at 20:49.

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