This section looks at the distribution of the GRAY and GREY names.  The following table shows the number of people with the names GRAY and GREY for every million names found from public data sources between 2000 and 2005. This has been obtained by looking at the Public Profiler web-site.

CountryGRAY per MillionGREY per million
New Zealand1,700.73239.48
United Kingdom1,469.60116.93
United States945.8640.99

The following pages will look at the individual countries over different periods of time.  While looking initially at the UK and USA, the data will gradually encompass the other countries.

United Kingdom

Sources I’ve looked at show that, in 2002, there were 67,549 people with the name GRAY in England and Wales (compared with 652,563 SMITHs), but only 6,518 with the name GREY. According to the census, in 1881 there were 42,776 GRAY entries (423,733 SMITHs) 6,511 GREY. Most of the GRAYs were in Lanarkshire (10%), Middlesex (9%), County Durham (5%), Yorkshire (7%) and Lancashire (5%). The vast majority is to the north of England and Scotland possibly inferring a migration from Scotland.
The “Surname Profiler” at the Spatial Literacy In Teaching site (ONS Links) shows a number of distributions for the United Kingdom. The following images show the data for 1881 and 1998

GRAY Frequency 1881
GRAY Frequency 1998

An additional view of 1881 (UK 1881 Census Distribution) is given by the “British 19th Century Surname Atlas” from Archer’s Software (ONS Links) which takes its data (UK 1881 Census LDS Data) from the census index published by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS). This view does differ from that provided by the Surname Profiler, but I have not yet looked into this.

A further section looks into the Detailed Distribution for the UK

United States of America

According to the US census data held by Ancestry.com, the numbers of GRAYs were 3,558 in 1840, 59,387 in 1880 and 33,331 in 1920. (I’ve yet to understand the significant decrease between 1880 and 1920). From that web-site, I’ve obtained the numbers per state in each of those years.

The Hamrick Software – Names site provides the name distributions for the fifty states of the USA for 1850, 1880, 1920 and 1990 which are shown in USA Distributions.