This ancient name has two possible origins, the first of which is from an Anglo-Saxon, Old English nickname for someone with grey hair or a grey beard, derived from the Old English pre 7th Century word "graeg", grey. The bearers of the name in Scotland and Ireland were originally the Gaelic "riabhach", meaning "brindled or grey", translated to "Grey" or "Gray". The second origin of the modern name is from the place called "Graye" in Calvados, Normandy, so called from the Old Gallo-Roman personal name "Gratus" meaning "Welcome" or "Pleasing", with the suffix "acum" meaning settlement or village. A notable bearer of the name was Lady Jane Grey (1537 - 1554), who reigned as queen of England from July 9th to the 19th, 1553, before being imprisoned and executed the following year. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Anschitill Grai, which was dated 1086, in the "Domesday Book", Oxfordshire, during the reign of King William 1, known as "The Conqueror", 1066 - 1087. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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