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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2016


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.

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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. 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]


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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 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


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  • William H. Grey, American Republican politician, Delegate to Republican National Convention from Arkansas, 1868, 1872
  • Tom Grey, American Libertarian politician, Candidate for U.S. Representative from California 12th District, 1988
  • Ruth Grey, American Republican politician, Alternate Delegate to Republican National Convention from New Jersey, 1956
  • O. H. Grey, American Republican politician, Alternate Delegate to Republican National Convention from Nevada, 1900
  • Norman Grey, American Republican politician, Candidate for Presidential Elector for New Jersey, 1912
  • Mike Grey, American Democrat politician, Alternate Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Oklahoma, 1956
  • Mrs. John Wesley Grey, American Republican politician, Alternate Delegate to Republican National Convention from Illinois, 1932
  • Jeffrey W. Grey, American Democrat politician, Candidate for U.S. Representative from Virginia 6th District, 1996
  • James Grey, American Democrat politician, Candidate in primary for Governor of Georgia, 1966
  • J. C. Grey, American politician, Member of South Dakota State House of Representatives, 1925-26, 1949-54

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  1. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.

Other References

  1. Innes, Thomas and Learney. Scots Heraldry A Practical Handbook on the Historical Principles and Mordern Application of the Art and Science. London: Oliver and Boyd, 1934. Print.
  2. Crozier, William Armstrong Edition. Crozier's General Armory A Registry of American Families Entitled to Coat Armor. New York: Fox, Duffield, 1904. Print.
  3. Martine, Roddy, Roderick Martine and Don Pottinger. Scottish Clan and Family Names Their Arms, Origins and Tartans. Edinburgh: Mainstream, 1992. Print.
  4. Browne, James. The History of Scotland it's Highlands, Regiments and Clans 8 Volumes. Edinburgh: Francis A Niccolls & Co, 1909. Print.
  5. 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.
  6. Bradford, William. History of Plymouth Plantation 1620-1647 Edited by Samuel Eliot Morrison 2 Volumes. New York: Russell and Russell, 1968. Print.
  7. Leyburn, James Graham. The Scotch-Irish A Social History. Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 1962. Print. (ISBN 0807842591).
  8. Bolton, Charles Knowles. Scotch Irish Pioneers In Ulster and America. Montana: Kessinger Publishing. Print.
  9. Burke, Sir Bernard. Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry Including American Families with British Ancestry 2 Volumes. London: Burke Publishing, 1939. Print.
  10. Skene, William Forbes Edition. Chronicles of the Picts, Chronicles of the Scots and Other Early Memorials of Scottish History. Edinburgh: H.M. General Register House, 1867. 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 14 March 2016 at 14:31.

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