Approach to the GRAY One-Name Study


This study, being very large, is causing me some difficulty – not technically, but in approach. One aim is to collect all occurrences of the name world-wide.  However, with many hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of such occurrences, the task is far greater than one person can undertake in one lifetime – and within a reasonable budget.  So what is my approach?

Seven Pillars

The Guild of One-Name Studies suggests that there are seven broad activities to a study, which I list below together with where I cover them on this site:

By Analysis they mean investigating the data collected to maximise the content and value of each data item and to show how they all link together.  By Synthesis they mean generating new hypotheses about the linked data in order to test the findings suggested by it. It is about drawing conclusions on the big questions relating to a surname, such as where it arose, what it means, and what are its variants.


This study arose from my having gathered all entries from the International Genealogical Index (IGI) for Yorkshire in England.  [The IGI is a database of genealogical data developed and maintained by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS). It can now be accessed through the Family Search web-site.] Extending this data gathering to the whole of the country – and from there world-wide – is a gradual process.  I’ve also started gathering entries from the English Birth, Marriage and Death indices held by the English General Records Office.  However the more frequent exercise is from helping others.  I often have requests from people looking into their own GRAY or GREY family histories and, in that process, I uncover more data that I can use for my study – usually from the UK census.

So the data I currently hold is from four main sources:

  • English GRO (including FreeBMD)
  • IGI
  • UK census
  • UK Parish records