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Gray Family History & Ancestry

Family Crest Motto: ANCHOR FAST ANCHOR (hold firm, hold steady)

Let me share with you the intriguing history of your family, the Grays, passed down through generations. The origin of the name can be traced back to France, where Fulbert, the Great Chamberlain of Robert, Duke of Normandy, was granted the castle and lands of Croy (or Gray) in Picardy, adopting it as his surname. It is said that Fulbert’s daughter, Arlotta, was the mother of William the Conqueror, which also gave rise to the name Grey in England. Notably, the famous Lady Jane Grey, descended from the Dukes of Suffolk, briefly held the throne of England for nine days in 1553 before her unfortunate beheading in February 1554.

Your family’s presence in Scotland dates back to the time of Alexander III when John de Gray served as a witness to donations to the Monastery of Coldstream. He hailed from Lord Grey of Chillingham’s lineage in Northumberland and became a steward to the Earls of March. The Grays, like many Scottish families, initially submitted to Edward I in the Ragman Roll of 1296 but soon changed their allegiance and joined Robert the Bruce in the fight for independence. Sir Andrew Gray, in recognition of his services to the Scottish crown, was rewarded with land grants, including Longforgen in Perthshire. He was among the first to climb the rock of Edinburgh Castle when it was liberated from the English in 1312. Patrick Gray, son of the second Lord Gray, served as a gentleman of the bedchamber to James II and was involved in the Earl of Douglas’ murder, retaliating against the king’s knife attack with a blow from a battle-axe. Patrick Gray of Buttergask, the fifth Lord Gray, was captured at the Battle of Solway Moss in 1542 and released upon payment of a ¬£500 ransom. Andrew Gray, the eighth Lord Gray, served as a lieutenant in the French ‘Gens D’Armes’ under Lord Gordon but was excommunicated by the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in 1649.

Ann, daughter of Lord Gray, married William Gray, younger of Pittendrum, who, like the rest of your family, supported the royalist cause. He commanded a regiment that he mostly raised himself during the Battle of Worcester in 1651. Although the title temporarily passed to the Earls of Moray, it eventually returned to Eveleen, Baroness Gray, niece of the fourteenth Earl of Moray upon his death in 1895. However, the Court of Lord Lyon currently prevents Lord Gray from assuming the chiefship of the modern family due to a 1950 decision barring those with compound names (double-barrelled) from claiming the clan’s chiefship.

The family’s roots trace back to Fulbert de Gray, who served as the Great Chamberlain to Robert, Duke of Normandy, and owned lands in Picardy. According to tradition, his daughter Arlotta was the mother of William the Conqueror, and it is believed that the family arrived in England with the Norman Conquest in 1066.

The Gray name first appears in Scotland in 1248, and Henry Gray of Fife pledged homage to Edward I in 1296. However, your family, like many others, aligned themselves with Robert the Bruce when the time was right. Sir Andrew Gray was instrumental in recapturing Edinburgh Castle from the English in 1312 and was granted lands in Longforgan, Perthshire, as a reward. The marriage of a Gray descendant to a daughter of the de Maule family led to the acquisition of the Fowlis lands in 1377. In 1444, another Andrew Gray, a loyal supporter of James I and II, was created the first Lord Gray.

Subsequently, the Grays maintained a close connection to the ruling House of Stewart. Patrick, son of the second Lord Gray, served as a Gentleman of the Bedchamber to James II, while the third Lord Gray held the position of Lord Justice General of Scotland in 1506. Patrick, the fifth Lord Gray, was captured at the Battle of Solway Moss in 1542 and subsequently ransomed for the princely sum of ¬£500. Patrick, the sixth Lord Gray, faced the intrigues surrounding the fall of Mary Queen of Scots and, although tried for treason, was eventually released and exiled. Andrew, the seventh Lord Gray, aligned himself with the Marquis of Montrose. In 1639, he relinquished his honors to secure a new patent in favor of his daughter Ann, who had married her kinsman William Gray, younger of Pittendrum. William lost his life in a duel with the Earl of Southesk in 1660, and the title passed to the Earls of Moray. However, upon the fourteenth Earl of Moray’s death, it returned to his niece, who subsequently became Baroness Gray in her own right.

Noteworthy individuals from your family include David Gray (1838-1861), a distinguished Scottish poet born in Kirkintilloch.

These are just some highlights from the captivating history of your family, the Grays, which spans across France, England, and Scotland, and encompasses notable figures and significant events.

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Family Crest Motto: ANCHOR FAST ANCHOR (hold firm, hold steady)

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