Show ContentsGraye History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

In ancient Scotland, Graye was first used as a surname by the descendants of the Boernician tribe. It was a name for a person who had gray hair. In Scotland, the surname Graye 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. Graye is therefore a nickname and a habitation name, which belongs to the category of hereditary surnames.

Early Origins of the Graye family

The surname Graye was 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. Backworth in Northumberland was home to one branch of the family. "This place formerly belonged to Tynemouth priory, and afterwards to the Grey family, by whom it was sold to the late Duke of Northumberland, for £95,000." 1

Barcombe in Sussex was another ancient family seat. "It comprises 3106 acres, whereof 305 are common or waste; and is bounded on the east by the river Ouse, on which is a flour-mill that has existed since the Conquest, and has been for more than a century in the possession of the family of Mr. Russell Gray, who has also established an extensive oilmill at an expense of £10,000." 1

Early History of the Graye family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Graye research. Another 119 words (8 lines of text) covering the years 1248, 1250, 1255, 1266, 1268, 1282, 1296, 1305, 1323, 1353, 1362, 1377, 1380, 1387, 1390, 1392, 1416, 1424, 1427, 1437, 1439, 1440, 1445, 1449, 1451, 1454, 1469, 1490, 1501, 1505, 1582, 1590, 1599, 1611, 1612, 1614, 1621, 1622, 1623, 1624, 1628, 1630, 1639, 1657, 1660, 1663, 1673, 1674, 1676 and 1890 are included under the topic Early Graye History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Graye Spelling Variations

Scribes in the Middle Ages, and simply spelled according to sound. The result is an enormous number of spelling variations among names that evolved in that era. Graye has been spelled Gray, Grey, Groy, Croy, Graye and others.

Early Notables of the Graye family

Notable among the family at this time was Andrew Gray, 1st Lord Gray (c.1390-1469), a Scottish nobleman, politician and diplomat; Sir Andrew Gray (d. 1445) of Fowlis, Perthshire; Sir John Grey KG (c.1387-1439), English nobleman and soldier; Edmund Grey (1416-1490), English nobleman; Thomas Grey KG (1451-1501), 7th Baron Ferrers of Groby, 1st Earl of Huntingdon, and 1st Marquess of Dorset, an English nobleman and courtier; George Grey, 2nd Earl of Kent (1454-1505), the son of Edmund Grey, 1st Earl of Kent and Lady Katherine Percy, was the Second Earl of Kent from 1490 to 1505; Nicholas Grey (c.1590-1660), English headmaster of...
Another 106 words (8 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Graye Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Graye family to Ireland

Some of the Graye family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 60 words (4 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

United States Graye migration to the United States +

Most of the Boernician-Scottish families who came to North America settled on the eastern seaboard of what would become the United States and Canada. Families who wanted a new order stayed south in the War of Independence, while those who were still loyal to the crown went north to Canada as United Empire Loyalists. In the 20th century, the ancestors of these families have gone on to rediscover their heritage through Clan societies and other patriotic Scottish organizations. Research into the origins of individual families in North America has revealed records of the immigration of a number of people bearing the name Graye or a variant listed above:

Graye Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Mrs. Elnor Graye, (Grave), who arrived in Virginia in 160 aboard the ship "Susan" 2
  • Mrs. John Graye, Jr., (Grave), who arrived in Virginia in 1608 aboard the ship "Susan" 2
  • Mrs. John Graye, Jr., (Grave), who arrived in Virginia in 1608 aboard the ship "Susan" 2
  • Jone Graye, who arrived in Virginia in 1623 3
  • Thomas Graye, who arrived in Virginia in 1624-1625 3
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Graye (post 1700) +

  • Gary D. Graye, American politician, Candidate for Michigan State House of Representatives 106th District, 1972, 1974 4
  • Lance Graye McCullers (b. 1964), retired American Major League Baseball pitcher

  1. Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  2. Pilgrim Ship's of 1600's Retrieved January 6th 2023, retrieved from
  3. Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  4. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, November 11) . Retrieved from on Facebook