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

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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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 United States in the 17th Century

  • Daniel Grey settled in Virginia in 1654

Grey Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century

  • Daniel Grey, aged 38, a carpenter, arrived in Saint John, NB aboard the ship "Salus" in 1833
  • Mary Grey, aged 39, arrived in Saint John, NB aboard the ship "Salus" in 1833
  • Maria Grey, aged 20, arrived in Saint John, NB aboard the ship "Perseus" in 1834
  • Nancy Grey, aged 50, arrived in Saint John, NB aboard the ship "Perseus" in 1834
  • John Grey, aged 20, a labourer, arrived in Saint John, NB aboard the ship "Perseus" in 1834

Grey Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century

  • Edward Grey arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Hooghly" in 1839
  • Henry Grey arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Hooghly" in 1839
  • Margaret Grey arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Abberton" in 1846
  • Elizabeth Grey arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Bussorah Merchant" in 1848

Grey Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century

  • Benjamin Grey landed in Wanganui, New Zealand in 1843
  • George Grey landed in New Zealand in 1843
  • Benjamin Grey arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Aloe" in 1863
  • Robert Grey arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Aloe" in 1863
  • Thomas Grey arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Pegasus" in 1865


  • Brad Alan Grey (b. 1957), American chairman and CEO of Paramount Pictures (2005-)
  • Al Grey (1925-2000), American jazz trombonist, best known for his work with the Count Basie orchestra
  • Paris Grey (b. 1965), American singer
  • Jennifer Grey (b. 1960), Golden Globe nominated American actress, best known for playing Frances "Baby" Houseman in the 1987 hit film Dirty Dancing
  • Mr. Thomas G. Grey (1844-1917), Canadian resident from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada who survived the Halifax Explosion on 6th December 1917 but later died due to injuries
  • Sir George Grey (1799-1882), 2nd Baronet, a British Whig politician
  • Sir George Grey KCB (1812-1898), British soldier, explorer, Governor of South Australia, two-time Governor of New Zealand, Governor of Cape Colony (South Africa) and the 11th Premier of New Zealand
  • Edward Grey KG PC FZL DL (1862-1933), 1st Viscount Grey of Fallodon, British Liberal statesman who served as Foreign Secretary from 1905 to 1916, Ambassador to the United States (1919-1920)
  • Daniel Grey (1848-1900), Welsh physician and footballer who made two appearances for the Wales national football team in the 1870s
  • Alan Grey, New Zealand silver medalist rower at the 1962 British Empire and Commonwealth Games




  1. Burke, John Bernard Ed. The Roll of Battle Abbey. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  2. Samuelsen, W. David. New York City Passenger List Manifests Index 1820 - 1824. North Salt Lake, Utah: Accelerated Indexing Systems International, 1986. Print.
  3. Markale, J. Celtic Civilization. London: Gordon & Cremonesi, 1976. Print.
  4. Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Galveston Texas 1896-1951. National Archives Washington DC. Print.
  5. Scarlett, James D. Tartan The Highland Textile. London: Shepheard-Walwyn, 1990. Print. (ISBN 0-85683-120-4).
  6. Catholic Directory For Scotland. Glasgow: Burns Publications. Print.
  7. 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.
  8. Weis, Frederick Lewis, Walter Lee Sheppard and David Faris. Ancestral Roots of Sixty Colonists Who Came to New England Between 1623 and 1650 7th Edition. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0806313676).
  9. Leyburn, James Graham. The Scotch-Irish A Social History. Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 1962. Print. (ISBN 0807842591).
  10. Browne, James. The History of Scotland it's Highlands, Regiments and Clans 8 Volumes. Edinburgh: Francis A Niccolls & Co, 1909. 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 13 May 2015 at 07:57.

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