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.
The surname Grey 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."  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." 
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.
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
Grey Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
Grey Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
Grey Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
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.