First GenerationJo White Linn's book on the Gray family names the immigrant ancestor as John Gray, probably born in Ireland. He came to Virginia in 1737, buying land in Benjamin Borden's tract in Orange Co. VA at Timber Ridge, near present-day Lexington VA. His wife's name was Agnes. He died in 1751 in VA.
Second GenerationChildren of John and Agnes Gray
Samuel Gray was probably the oldest son. He bought land in the Borden tract himself in 1747, and was executor of his father's will and guardian of his younger brother Joseph. William was also of age at the time of his father's death, and was guardian of the younger brother Benjamin.
Update, May 15, 2008: At this point the story gets confusing, however. There are two different men named Samuel Gray, and family histories claim each as the son of John and Agnes Gray of Virginia. After looking at the data provided by someone researching the other Samuel, I think her case may be better, and that my Samuel, who settled in Randolph Co. NC, may not be the son of John and Agnes after all. I hope to be able to research this further.
My Samuel is probably the one who appears in Henry County VA in the 1779 and 1780 tax lists, and is thought to have moved on to Randolph County NC about 1790, where at least two of his sons, John and Robert, had already settled. Samuel does not appear in the Randolph Co. 1790 census.
The other Samuel Gray moved to Tryon Co. NC and died there about 1775. For good treatments of this family, see the following sites:
John's son William has been assumed to be the William Gray who settled in Guilford Co. NC and died there in 1794. However, this too is problematical: the other Samuel Gray also seems to have had a brother named William, who lived in Rutherford Co. NC.
Jacob Gray appears in land transactions in the 1750s in Augusta Co. VA, and has not been traced beyond that time.
David Gray served as a militia Captain in the Revolutionary War, and probably went with his brother Joseph to Washington Co. VA after the war.
Ann Gray appears to have been unmarried at the time of her father's death, whereas her sister Elizabeth received only a token inheritance, suggesting that she was already married and settled, and had received her share earlier.
Benjamin Gray was under age when his father died, and chose his brother William as guardian in 1759, when he was age 14, indicating that he was born about 1745. He ultimately moved to Kentucky, where he died about 1818.
DNA analysis could potentially be useful in sorting out what appear to be two different Gray families. However, at this writing (July 2012) I don't recognize a descendant of either among the samples already analyzed by the Gray DNA project.
Third GenerationFrom this point onward, I am following only the line of Samuel Gray of Randolph Co. NC
Children of Samuel Gray
Based on Jo White Linn's book, I thought Samuel's wife was named Agnes. However, the Samuel Gray who died in Tryon/Lincoln Co. NC in 1775 names his wife as Agnes, so at this point I don't know the name of the wife of Samuel of Randolph County.
Samuel's son John Gray was in Randolph Co. NC by the time of the Revolution, marrying Jannet Greer there in 1776 and serving as a Captain in the 3rd NC regiment in 1778.
Fourth GenerationChildren of John Gray and Jannet Greer
Samuel Gray (1778-1856) m. Mary Smith (1779-1852)
Jane Gray (1779-?) did not marry, died after 1860
William Gray (1781-1847) m. Charity Mendenhall* (1794-1878)
Robert Gray (1783-1815) m. Mary Johnston (1782-?)
Edward Gray (1788-?)
John Gray (1789-1829) m. Charity Swaim (1785-1822)
This list is supported by John's will, written 29 Oct 1792, recorded Dec term 1792, Asheboro NC. He left 1/3 of his estate to his wife Jannet, and the other two thirds were equally divided between six children, Samuel, Jean, William, Robert, John and Edward. Jannet together with his brothers Will and Robert were executors.
Fifth GenerationIf you are a male with the GRAY surname who is a descendant of any of the men highlighted in red below and would be interested in participating in DNA testing, please contact me
Children of Samuel Gray and Mary Smith
There are a couple of family trees on Ancestry.com that make this Samuel the son of William Gray of Guilford Co. The following deed records support my belief that Samuel is the son of John Gray and Jannet Greer:
On Sept. 6, 1802, Samuel Gray bought 64 acres on the waters of Muddy Creek from John Bratton. On Sep. 23, 1804, Samuel Gray bought 92 1/2 acres from James Frazier, this tract also being on the water of Muddy Creek in Randolph Co. and lying along the Lexington Road.
In Aug. 1821 Samuel Gray, William Gray, Edward Gray and Jane Gray, heirs of John Gray Sr., dec'd, sold to John Gray Jr. son of John Gray Sr., 100 acres of land in Randolph Co. on the waters of Muddy Creek. [Note that these are the same children named in John Gray's will above.]
Another error that appears in some on-line family trees is the name "Nancy Mary Smith" for Samuel's wife. Mary Smith was one of nine sisters, one of whom was named Nancy (she married Samuel Walker in Randolph Co. in 1809, and later moved to Illinois). The sisters are all named in the will of their father, Alexander Smith, with their husbands or surviving widowers. Samuel and Mary Gray head this list, and Samuel and Nancy Walker are also listed.
Yet another error appears for this family on line, a second wife (Nancy Jane Millis) who was the mother of a child Jesse Franklin Gray born in 1853. Samuel's will wasn't written until 1856, shortly before his death, and it names neither Nancy nor Jesse. The husband of Nancy Jane Millis seems to have been a different, younger Samuel Gray (Samuel Sylvester Gray, born about 1837, died about 1868 in Indiana).
Child of John Gray and Charity Swaim
Children of William Gray and Charity Mendenhall
*Previously I listed one more child, Savannah Gray (1844-1915), and I commented that this was a very long child-bearing span for one woman. I noted that in 1850, both Elizabeth and Margaret were unmarried and living at home and that either would have been old enough to be the mother of McKendree, Franklin and Savannah.
I now know that Savannah's death certificate names her mother as Elizabeth Gray, and does not name a father, so this hypothesis appears to be correct at least for her. Franklin Gray's death certificate doesn't name his parents. McKendree Gray died before February 1916 (his wife's death certificate says she was a widow). Since NC didn't start death registration until midway through 1913, there may be no certificate for him.
Sixth GenerationChildren of John S. Gray and Jane Coltrane
Martha Gray (1833-?)
Mary Gray (1835-?)
John Gray (1839-?)
Lydia Gray (1842-?)
Harrison Gray (1844-?)
Children of John S. Gray and Susan Hiatt
Children of Alexander Gray and Nancy Beckerdite
This family moved from Randolph to Wilkes Co. NC between 1850 and 1860. In 1870, Nancy was head of household and was back in Randolph Co. with the four youngest children.
Children of Robert Gray and Mary Millis Wiley
Children of Abner Gray and Irena Gardner
Children of Abner Gray and Hannah Millikan Blair
Children of Grier Gray and Pernecia Leach
SourcesLinn, Jo White (1976), The Gray family and allied lines: Bowman, Lindsay, Millis, Dick, Peebles, Wiley, Shannon, Lamar, McGee
Gray/Grey Lines newsletter, edited by Mary Lou House
Roster of Soldiers from North Carolina in the American Revolution. Genealogical Publishing Co., Baltimore, 1967, originally published by NC DAR 1932
Census records, and NC death certificates
This page was revised on June 5, 2010.
Additional Resources* See the Mendenhall Family Association web page for more information on Charity Mendenhall Gray and her relatives.