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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright © 2000 - 2015

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.

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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.


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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.

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

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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.

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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 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 United States in the 18th Century


  • Sarah Gray, who landed in Virginia in 1722

Gray Settlers in 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


Gray Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century


  • Mr. James Gray U.E. who arrived at Port Roseway [Shelburne], Nova Scotia on October 26, 1783 was passenger number 200 aboard the ship "HMS Clinton", picked up on September 28, 1783 at Staten Island, New York
  • Mr. John Gray U.E. who settled in Eastern District [Cornwall], Ontario c. 1784
  • Mr. John Gray U.E. who settled in New Brunswick c. 1784
  • Mr. Joseph Gray U.E. (b. 1729) born in Massachusetts, USA from Boston, Massachusetts, USA who settled in Halifax, Nova Scotia c. 1784 he died in 1803, married to Mary Gerrish they had 13 children
  • Mr. Justus Gray U.E. who settled in New Brunswick c. 1784


Gray Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century


  • George Gray, aged 60, a farmer, arrived in Quebec aboard the ship "Edinburgh" in 1815
  • Isobel Gray, aged 43, arrived in Quebec aboard the ship "Edinburgh" in 1815
  • Isobel Gray, aged 18, arrived in Quebec aboard the ship "Edinburgh" in 1815
  • Margaret Gray, aged 14, arrived in Quebec aboard the ship "Edinburgh" in 1815
  • Ann Gray, aged 13, arrived in Quebec aboard the ship "Edinburgh" in 1815


Gray Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century


  • Robert Gray, English convict from Essex, who was transported aboard the "Albion" on May 17, 1823, settling in Van Diemen's Land, Australia
  • Austen Gray, English convict from Durham, who was transported aboard the "Asia" on July 29th, 1823, settling in Van Diemen's Land, Australia
  • Thomas Gray, a carpenter, arrived in Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania) sometime between 1825 and 1832
  • Thomas Gray, Scottish convict from Edinburgh, who was transported aboard the "Albion" on May 29, 1828, settling in New South Wales, Australia
  • William Gray, English convict from Lancaster, who was transported aboard the "America" on April 4, 1829, settling in New South Wales, Australia


Gray Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century


  • George Gray landed in Wellington, New Zealand in 1840
  • Benjamin Gray, aged 23, a farm labourer, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Clifton" in 1842
  • Emma Gray, aged 21, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Clifton" in 1842
  • Joseph Gray, aged 1, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Clifton" in 1842
  • Christina Gray, aged 22, a servant, arrived in Nelson aboard the ship "Bombay" in 1842


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  • 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)
  • Miss Mary Gray (1909-1914), American Second Class Passenger from Terre Haute, Wisconsin, United States who was traveling aboard the Empress of Ireland and died in the sinking on May 29th 1914
  • Mrs. Madeline Gray (1880-1914), née Shirt American Second Class Passenger from Terre Haute, Wisconsin, United States who was traveling aboard the Empress of Ireland and died in the sinking on May 29th 1914

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  • 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.
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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...

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

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  1. Prebble, John. The Highland Clearances. London: Secker & Warburg, 1963. Print.
  2. Bolton, Charles Knowles. Scotch Irish Pioneers In Ulster and America. Montana: Kessinger Publishing. Print.
  3. Browne, James. The History of Scotland it's Highlands, Regiments and Clans 8 Volumes. Edinburgh: Francis A Niccolls & Co, 1909. Print.
  4. 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.
  5. Leeson, Francis L. Dictionary of British Peerages. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1986. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-1121-5).
  6. Burke, Sir Bernard. Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Peerage and Baronetage, The Privy Council, Knightage and Compainonage. London: Burke Publishing, 1921. Print.
  7. Bell, Robert. The Book of Ulster Surnames. Belfast: Blackstaff, 1988. Print. (ISBN 10-0856404160).
  8. 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.
  9. Bowman, George Ernest. The Mayflower Reader A Selection of Articales from The Mayflower Descendent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  10. Scots Kith and Kin And Illustrated Map Revised 2nd Edition. Edinburgh: Clan House/Albyn. Print.
  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 11 June 2015 at 17:33.

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