A GROWING RESOURCE FOR RESEARCHING GRAY FAMILY HISTORY

The purpose of The Gray Nation site is to assist genealogists in their search for Gray ancestors and relatives. Currently the People database contains 6,805 individuals (854 surnames) with information on birth, death, burial, marriage, immigration, military service and in some cases, photos are included. As of May 2014, other life events such as childbirth, census, education, occupation and marriage/death witness have been added. The source of most of the records is ScotlandsPeople, an excellent site. Everything else comes from Ancestry.com, family archives, location visits and e-mailed contributions from sources around the world. It can be said that the sun never sets on the Gray family.

It is well known that Gray is a common name found throughout the world. To attempt to document all branches of this family with one site would be a very tall order. Therefore this site will set its initial focus on the branch that has its roots in the South Lanarkshire region in Scotland. By the 17th century, these Grays resided in the Carmichael (Ponfeigh) area. Over time they migrated to nearby places such as Carstairs, Pettinain, Carnwath and Carluke. They earned their living as farmers, joiners, carpenters, laborers, shipbuilders, miners, masons, railroaders, tailors, shopkeepers, threadmill workers and entrepreneurs. It should noted that as the result of marriages and migrations, the People database contains individuals from all over Scotland and the world.

Beginning with the early years of the 20th century, many Grays emigrated and some settled in and around the town of Kearny, New Jersey. This part of the story would not be complete without mention of another Scottish family: the Blacks. Members of the John & Mary Hamilton Black family emigrated from Paisley to Kearny around the same time. John Allan Gray and Susan Black married in Kearny and formed one American branch of the Gray family tree.

Kearny's Scottish community was established in the mid to late 19th century. Companies such as Clark Thread (now Coats & Clark) of Paisley, DuPont and Nairn Linoleum provided employment opportunities for immigrant families such as Balfour, Friars, Gildawie, McCallum, Shaw, Spence, Stark, Stevenson and Waugh. There were so many people from Paisley living in Kearny it was dubbed “Little Paisley” and the tram driver would shout out “Paisley Cross” when he reached the crossroads at Bergen and Kearny Avenues.

New information, photos or documents about these Grays or any of the relatives is greatly appreciated. If you wish to contribute or have questions, corrections or comments, please use jrgray@thegraynation.com or click on the following link to send an e-mail to webmaster James Gray. Thank you very much.

Origins of the Gray Family Name

Recorded as Gray, Graye, Grey, Greye, de Grey, MacGray, McGray, McGrah, McGreay, McGrey, and possibly others, this ancient Anglo-Scottish surname has at least two possible origins. The first was Old English and a nickname or personal name for a man with grey hair or beard, from the pre 7th century word "graeg", meaning grey. Although the name means the same in Scotland and Ireland,name holders there took their name from the early Gaelic word "riabhach" which also means brindled or grey. The second separate origin is French and locational. As such it is from the village of Graye in Calvados, Normandy, and was introduced into the British Isles after the famous Conquest of 1066. The village was called from the Roman personal name "Gratus" meaning welcome, with the suffix "acum," a settlement. Early recordings of the surname include Baldwin Grai, in the Pipe Rolls of Berkshire in 1173, and Henry de Gray, in the Pipe Rolls of Nottinghamshire, dated 1196. Other examples include Henry Gray and Jone Darby married at St. Margaret's, Westminster, on November 30th 1539 and Catherine MacGray, christened at Endell Street lying in hospital, city of London on March 17th 1763. Thomas Gray (1716 - 1771), the poet, was most well known for his "Elegy in a Country Churchyard", published in 1751. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Anschitill Grai. This was dated 1086, in the Domesday Book of Oxfordshire, during the reign of King William 1st, known as "The Conqueror", 1066 - 1087. Source: The Internet Surname Database

The Gray family in the United States is numerous, widespread and consists of many diverse branches. They were among the Pilgrims of New England, the Quakers of Pennsylvania and the early settlers of Virginia and other southern states. Within the first century, between 1620 and 1720, research indicates that there were at least twenty different families of Grays, or different branches of the same family, which had emigrated to this country and made their homes in the New World. As early as 1622, two brothers, Thomas and John Gray, had become proprietors of the island of Nantasket in Boston Harbor by purchase from the Indians. Abraham Gray is mentioned as among the Pilgrim refugees at Leiden, Holland in 1622.

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Top Ten Surnames in People database:

  Surname Count Surname Count
1 GRAY     391 6 SPENCE    150
2 SMITH    186 7 BROWN     128
3 PRENTICE    182 8 MUIR       91
4 WEIR    170 9 BLACK       87
5 McCALLUM     153 10 FLETT/FRAME      82

Top Twenty Given names in People database:

  Female Count Male Count
1 MARGARET     392 1 JOHN    543
2 JANET/JESSIE    361 2 JAMES    492
3 MARY    297 3 WILLIAM     420
4 JANE/JEAN     263 4 ROBERT    251
5 ELIZABETH    258 5 THOMAS     237
6 AGNES    180 6 GEORGE     179
7 ANN/ANNE    157 7 ALEXANDER     174
8 MARION    152 8 DAVID     116
9 ISABELLA    150 9 ANDREW       92
10 HELEN    143 10 HUGH       52

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