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 7,907 individuals (915 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. Other sources include Pre-1855 Monumental Inscriptions: Upper Ward of Lanarkshire (Sheila Scott), Ancestry.com, family archives, location visits and emailed contributions from around the world. It can be said that the sun never sets on The Gray Nation.

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 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, dressmakers, 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 drivers would shout out “Paisley Cross” when they 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

Motto: Anchor, fast anchor.

The surname is originally Norman, being first borne by Fulbert, Great Chamberlain of Robert, Duke of Normandy, who granted him the castle and lands of Croy or Gray in Picardy which he thereafter assumed as the family surname. His daughter, Arlotta, is said to have been the mother of William the Conqueror. In England several families from this source were raised to high rank, and spelt their name ‘Grey’. From the Dukes of Suffolk came the amiable and accomplished Lady Jane Grey, who was an innocent victim of the ambitions of her father. She was proclaimed Queen of England and reigned for nine days in 1553, but she perished on the block in February 1554. In Scotland, John de Gray was a witness to donations in favour of the Monastery of Coldstream during the reign of Alexander III. He was descended from Lord Grey of Chillingham in Northumberland, and became steward to the Earls of March. Like many others, the Grays swore fealty to Edward I of England in the Ragman Roll of 1296, but they were soon following Robert the Bruce on the long fight for Scottish independence. Sir Andrew Gray was one of the first to scale the rock of Edinburgh Castle when it was taken from the English in 1312. He was rewarded with several grants of land, including Longforgen in Perthshire, for his services to the Crown. One of his descendants, another Sir Andrew, was one of the Scottish nobles who met James I at Durham from his return from captivity in England. He was created Lord Gray in 1444. Patrick, Master of Gray, son of the second Lord Gray, was a Gentleman of the Bedchamber to James II, and when the king stabbed the Earl of Douglas, Gray struck the next blow with a battleaxe. His son, the third Lord Gray, became Lord Justice General of Scotland in 1506. Patrick Gray of Butter-gask, the fifth Lord, was taken prisoner at the Battle of Solway Moss in 1542, and was ransomed for £500 sterling. He was one of the first promoters of the Reformation in Scotland, and in 1567 joined in the defence of the infant James VI. Patrick, Master of Gray, the seventh Lord, was a great favourite of James VI but became embroiled in the intrigues of the time, including the death of the king’s mother, Mary, Queen of Scots. He was eventually tried for treason but on the intercession of the Earl of Huntly and Lord Hamilton his life was spared and he was exiled. Andrew, eighth Lord Gray, was lieutenant of the ‘Gens D’Armes’ in France under Lord Gordon. He was ordered to be banished from the kingdom by Order of the Estates for being with the Marquess of Montrose in 1645, but the sentence was never carried out. In 1649 he was excommunicated by the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland for his Catholicism. In 1639 Lord Gray resigned his honours to Charles I and obtained a new patent in favour, after himself, of his daughter Ann who had married William Gray, younger of Pittendrum. William, like the rest of the family, was a staunch royalist, and he commanded a regiment, which he had raised mostly at his own expense, at the Battle of Worcester in 1651. He was killed in a duel by the Earl of Southesk in 1660. For a time the title passed to the Earls of Moray, but on the death in 1895 of the fourteenth Earl of Moray and eighteenth Lord Gray, the title passed to his niece, Eveleen, Baroness Gray in her own right. The present Lord Gray is barred from the chiefship of his family by a famous decision of the Court of the Lord Lyon in 1950 – the case of Gray Petitioner, which established that in Scots heraldic law the bearing of a compound, or double-barrelled name, was an absolute bar to assuming the chiefship of a Scottish clan or family. Source: Celtic Radio

 

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Top Ten Surnames in People database:

  Surname Count   Surname Count
1 GRAY     566 6 McCALLUM    157
2 WEIR    237 7 BROWN     126
3 SMITH    234 8 HAMILTON    105
4 PRENTICE    200 9 FRAME      97
5 SPENCE     160 10 MUIR      95

Top Twenty Given names in People database:

  Female Count Male Count
1 MARGARET/MAGGIE     478 1 JOHN    654
2 JANET/JESSIE    445 2 JAMES    619
3 MARY    375 3 WILLIAM     550
4 JANE/JEAN     342 4 ROBERT    330
5 ELIZABETH/BETTY    307 5 THOMAS     297
6 AGNES    225 6 ALEXANDER     220
7 ANN/ANNE/ANNIE    203 7 GEORGE      213
8 MARION    183 8 DAVID     137
9 ISABELLA/ISOBEL    176 9 ANDREW     112
10 HELEN/NELLIE    170 10 HUGH       73

Documents and Images in People database:

  Type Count Type Count
1 BIRTH    433 2 DEATH    766
3 GRAVESTONE    254 4 MARRIAGE    974
5 IMMIGRATION    175 6 PERSON     151

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