Meaning, Origin, Etymology
The surname of Gray is one that is associated with multiple possible origins from which it came about. The first possible origin for the surname of Gray is that is a nickname for someone who had gray hair or who had a gray beard. This nickname itself derives from the Old English Pre 7th Century word of “graeg” which can be interpreted to mean “gray.” In both Scottish and Irish cultures, this nickname of “gray” is also a part of the culture. However, the Scottish and Irish get their nickname from the Old Gaelic word of “riabhach” which can be translated to mean “brindled,” or “gray.” The surname was adopted from these nicknames, and became hereditary after the first generation. The other possible origin of the surname of Gray is that it was a locational surname. This means that the surname of Gray was often taken by the Lord or owner of the land from which the name derives. Others who may have take a locational surname are people who have migrated out of the area to seek out work. The easiest way to identify someone who was a stranger at that time was by the name of their birthplace. This locational name was French, and was the city of Graye, which was located in Calvados, Normandy. This locational surname was introduced to the country of England following the Norman Conquest of the year 1066. The name of the village of Graye was believed to have derived from the Roman personal given name of “Gratus” which can be translated to mean “welcome,” and the suffix of “acum” which can be translated to mean “a settlement.” The first recorded spelling of the surname of Gray was found within the country of England. One person by the name of Anschitill Grai was mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086. It it important to remember that the Doomsday Book was created to encompass the “Great Survey” of the country of England at that time. This document, the Doomsday Book, was ordered, decreed, and written under the reign of one King William I, who was known throughout the ages as “William the Conqueror.” King William I of England ruled from the year 1066 to the year 1086. Other mentions of the surname of Gray can be found throughout the country of England. Baldwin Grai was mentioned in the Pipe Rolls of the County Berkshire in the year of 1173, while Henry de Gray was mentioned in the Pipe Rolls of Nottinghamshire in the year of 1196.
Grey, Grai, Grei, Greie, Greay, Garay, Goray, Graye, Grayo, Graya, Ghray, Graey, Grayu, Grayy, MacGray, McGray, McGrey, McGreay, McGrah,
Popularity & Geographic Distribution
The last name Gray ranks 1,051st in popularity worldwide as of the 2014 Census and approximately 518,859 people carry the surname worldwide. The name ranks particularly high in the following six states: Texas (28,987), California (24,940), Florida (15,801), Maryland (12,891), Ohio (12,302) and Georgia (12,255). It ranks highest in the following countries: United States (317,574), England (67,631), Australia (31,380), Canada (25,824), Scotland (17,789), Liberia (10,763).
Early Bearers of Surname
Anshitill Grai 1086 in Domesday Book (Oxon)
Roger de Grai 1166 in Domesday Descendants
Baldwin Grai 1173 in Pipe Rolls (Bucks)
Henry de Gray 1196 in Pipe Rolls (Notts)
William Grei 1198 in Feet of Fines (Hunts)
John de Gray 1199 in CDI §104
William Gray 1219 in Paisley Abbey (Newton upon Ayr, Ayrs)
de Grey 1229 in CDI §1762
John Gray of Ayton 1253-70 in Dryburgh Register (Berwick, Berwicks)
Robert Gray 1291 in Scotland Calendar (Banff, Banffs)
William le Greie, Sewyn le Gray, Philip le Grey 1296 in Subsidy Rolls (Sussex)
Simon de Gray 1331 in Feet of Fines (Bucks, Northants)
Roger de Grey 1344 in Feet of Fines (Flitton, Beds)
John le Grey, knight 1349 in Feet of Fines (Rotherfield Grey, Oxon)
Johannes le Grey 1377 in Poll Tax (Chapmanslade, Wilts)
Dunkan Gray 1377 in Poll Tax (Yetlington, Northumb)
Alicia Greie 1381 in Poll Tax (Harnhill and Driffield, Gloucs)
Thomas Gray, citizen and grocer of London 1419 in Feet of Fines
Johannes Gray 1536 in IGI (Brocklesby, Lincs)
Leonard Grey, knight 1538 in Fiants Henry §71 (Carlow)
Leonard Gray 1540 in Fiants Henry §150 (Eneslawnaghe, Waterford)
Richard Gray, chaplain 1543 in Fiants Henry (Droheda, Louth)
John Graie 1548 in IGI (Catfield, Norfolk)
Jhone Gray 1562 in IGI (Perth, Perths)
Besse Gray 1563 in IGI (Dunfermline, Fife)
Jon Grey 1579 in IGI (Aberdeen, Aberdeens)
Edward Grey 1595 in Fiants Elizabeth §5915
Edward Gray 1596 in Fiants Elizabeth §5991 (Limerick)
History, Genealogy & Ancestry
To find out which Coat of Arms above is associated with your direct lineage see the Which One is Mine? Page.
Early American Immigration and New World Settlers
William Gray arrived in 1654 in Northampton, Virginia and was sponsored by Benjamin Mathews
Josua Gray arrived in 1656 in Northumberland, Virginia and was sponsored by Tho. Salsbury
Rebecca Gray arrived in 1638 in James City, Virginia and was sponsored by Thomas Gray
Henry Gray arrived in 1651 in Northumberland, Virginia and was sponsored by Tho. Hales and Tho. Sheppard
Miles Gray arrived in 1655 in Northampton, Virginia and was sponsored by John Hinman Avis Gray arrived in 1638 in James City, Virginia and was sponsored by Thomas Gray
Anchor, fast anchor.
Clarior e flammis. Brighter from the flame.
Clarior e tenebris. The brighter from previous obscurity.
Tenebo. I will hold.
Vixi liber et moriar. I have lived a freeman and will die one.
Gray, Sir Richard, Secretary of Ireland, July 1612, by Camden, arms also of Ann, dau. Of Christopher Payton, his wife (see Anne Grey).
Gray, Richard of London, gent., s. of Walter, s. of Richard descended of a younger brother of the Lord Gray of Rotherfield.
Gray, Robert, Sheriff of London and Master of Merchant Taylors Co. 1635 and to Thomas Gray, his nephew.
Gray, William of Hackney, Middx 7 May 1652 and to his brethren being of the kindred of Robert the Mercht. Taylor.
William “Bill” Mason Gray (1929-2016) who was an Emeritus Professor of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University
Coleen Gray (1922-2015) who was born with the name Doris Bernice Jensen, who was an actress from America, who was best known for her portrayal of roles in the 1947 film Nightmare Alley, the 1948 film Red River, and the 1956 film The Killing
Freddie Carlos Gray Jr. (1989-2015) who was an African-American man who was arrested by the police for allegedly possessing an illegal switchblade and fell into a coma and later died at a trauma center Mr. James Paul Gray, who who was a Second Class passenger from Oakland, California who was aboard the RMS Lusitania at the time of the sinking, and did survived the sinking of the vessel by escaping on an overturned collapsible in the year 1915 Mrs. Terence Florence Gray (died in 1915) who was a Second Class passenger from Los Angeles, California who was aboard the RMS Lusitania at the time of the sinking, and did not survive the sinking of the vessel Master Stuart James Gray (died in 1915) who was a Second Class passenger from Los Angeles, California who was aboard the RMS Lusitania at the time of the sinking, and did not survive the sinking of the vessel
American Revolution Veterans
There were over 7,000 men that served in the American Revolution. Below you will find just a few of these men.
Ebenr Gray enlisted October 1779 in Connecticut and was a Lieutenant Colonel
Robert Gray enlisted May 1778 in Virginia and was a Private
Garret Gray enlisted April 5, 1778 in New Jersey and was a Sergeant
Joshua Gray enlisted May 1, 1781 in Massachusetts and was a Sergeant
James W. Gray enlisted April 1, 1777 in Maryland and was a Private
Samuel Gray enlisted May 1779 in Connecticut and was a Corporal
Civil War Veterans
There were over 22,000 men that served in the Civil War. Below you will find just a few of these men.
Thomas W. Gray enlisted September 8, 1862 in Kentucky and fought for the Confederacy
James Gray enlisted September 1, 1861 in Illinois and fought for the Union
Lycurgus Gray enlisted January 3, 1861 in Georgia and fought for the Confederacy
Samuel Gray enlisted August 15, 1862 in Illinois and fought for the Union
George Gray enlisted October 1, 1864 in Michigan and fought for the Union
William Gray enlisted September 2, 1862 in Kentucky and fought for the Confederacy