Gray (surname)

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Gray is a surname of that can come from a variety of origins but is typically found in Scotland, Ireland and England.

In Scotland and Ireland, the surname may have a Gaelic source, but in the former, seems to originate primarily in the Berwickshire and Morayshire areas. Instances that may derive from Gaelic and, as with other Gaelic surnames, can be a literal translation or a phonetic transcription, or an "Anglicization." A surname typically Anglicized to McGrath or McGraw can be seen as phonetically transcribed to "Gray." A literal translation of "Mac Giolla Riabhaigh" shows up as Gray, but is also Anglicized to "McGreevy," "Gallery" and others.

In the case of most Scottish instances, the name " 'Gray' " was adopted by speakers of the English language, which was initially referred to as, "Inglis" in early Scottish texts and later, was often described as "Scots". The origin in these areas is likely to come from the Old English word, "græg", meaning "grey", probably as a hair colour. As the county of Berwickshire lies on the Scottish border with England, the English spelling is "Grey" and is the same family group as the Scottish name. Many other names in the Scottish Borders are, like Gray, to be found in both Scotland and England.

Also among Irish and Scottish Grays is the English name of Anglo-Norman origin. A knight of Viking origin, Anchetil de Greye, accompanied William the Conqueror in his 1066 invasion of England. Anchetil's descendants would become bishops of Norwich and York. From this man likely descends Anglo-Normans who settled in Ireland and Scotland during the Norman incursions in those two countries.

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