Select Gregg/Greig Genealogy

The Gregg and Greig surnames are both diminutives of the personal name Gregory, from the Greek Gregorios (meaning “watchful”), which was popularized in Britain after the Crusades. 

Gregg and Greig were names of northern England (Gregg primarily) and of Scotland (Grieg primarily), although Gregg did also start to appear in western Scotland after the MacGregor clan name had been banned.  The Scottsh Greig was pronounced “Greeg” and became Grieg when taken to Scandinavia. 

The Grigg and Griggs surnames, also probably derived from Gregory, were spellings in SW and SE England respectively

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Select Gregg/Greig Ancestry

Scotland.  Scotland has both Greigs and Greggs, the Greigs on the east coast and the Greggs on the west.

East CoastThe best-known Greigs here found fame abroad: 
  • the line from Alexander Greig of Fraserburgh in Aberdeenshire who departed Scotland in 1746 led to a family of Bergen merchants in Norway.  Edvard Grieg, born there in 1843, became a famous composer, known for his adaptation of Norwegian folk tunes.
  • while Samuel Greig, a naval officer from Fife, was recruited into the Russian Navy in the 1760’s.  He was father to Alexey Greig, an admiral in the Imperial Russian Navy, and grandfather to SamuilGreig, Russian Minister of Finance in the 1870’s.
Aberdeenshire had the largest numbers and the earliest recording.  Patrick Grige was admitted as a burgess of Aberdeen in 1488.

William Grieg was born at Banchory Devenick in Kincardineshire in 1775.  James Grieg married Anne Arkle at Damfoord in 1822.  Many of their grandchildren emigrated to Canada in the 1860’s.

Griegs at Auchterderran in Fife date from the 1730’s.  The Rev. David Greig was minister there in the 1770’s.  The Kinghorn church cemetery near Kirkcaldy has the following gravestone: “On the east side of this stone lies the remains of Robert Greig who died on April 29, 1794 aged 56.”  James and Catherine Greig, born there, emigrated to Boston with their children in the 1820’s.

West of Scotland.  They were mainly Greggs in western Scotland, although fewer in number. 

The MacGregor clan name had been banned in 1603 and a number of MacGregors had taken the name of Gregg or Greg, names that were to be  found at Glenorchy in Argyllshire and at various places in Ayrshire.  Many later crossed the Irish Sea to Ulster.  William Gregg, born in Ayrshire, was a dance master and fiddle player to the poet Robert Burns in the late 1700’s. 

.  Most Greggs or Gregs in Ireland were of Scottish and probable MacGregor extraction.  Included in their number were: 
  • John Greg who had come to Glenarm in Antrim sometime in the 1640’s and died there.  His son William was forced to leave his father's home for Waterford.  William’s son William Gregg, a Quaker, departed Waterford for Pennsylvania in 1682. 
  • John Gregg who had moved to Derry fought at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690.  His sword and espontoon at the battle were preserved by the descendants of David Gregg who left with his brother Andrew for America in 1722. 
  • and John Greg, the son of James Gregg of Ochiltree in Ayrshire, who moved to Belfast in 1715.  He was the forebear of an enterprising Greg family who prospered in West Indian cotton plantations and, through his nephew Samuel, in cotton mills in Lancashire.  
Another Scottish MacGregor line went to the Greggs of Shantonagh in county Monaghan.  John Gregg, born there in 1867, was the inventor of the Gregg shorthand system which he brought to America in 1893 and met with great success. 

Some Greggs were of English origin.  This was probably true of Jonathan Gregg, a landowner at Ennis in county Clare in the late 1600’s.  His descendants included the 19th century father and son clergymen John and Robert Gregg, both Trinity College educated.  One was an Anglican bishop, the other an Anglican Archbishop.

.  Gregg is a name principally of northern England.

The earliest Gregg reference was a Joan Gregg who founded an almshouse in her will of 1416 at Posterngate in Hull. This became the Gregg’s House Hospital in the 1700’s.  John Gregg was a Hull merchant in the 1450’s.   Another Gregg family was a Puritan one in the 1600’s in Chester and later at Haywood Hall in Lancashire. 

A more recent Gregg reference is John Gregg who
started delivering eggs and yeast on his pushbike to families in the Newcastle area in the late 1930’s.  Thus Greggs the bakers was born.

.  The arrivals in America, according to shipping data, were almost equally divided between those from Scotland, Ireland and England, with the spelling in most cases being Gregg.  An early sighting was Thomas Gregg in Northumberland county, Virginia in 1648.

Scots Irish.  The main subsequent Gregg lines were Scots Irish.

William Gregg the Quaker from Waterford came in 1682 and settled in New Castle county, Delaware.  Later Greggs spread to Pennsylvania, Virginia and the Carolinas.  There were some notable descendants:
  • Jacob Gregg, a silversmith and watchmaker in Virginia
  • and his nephew William Gregg, born in 1800, who has been called “the father of the textile industry in the South."  His textile mill helped to establish the town of Graniteville, South Carolina
Hazel Middleton's 1944 book The Descendants of William Gregg covered the various lines.
Captain James Gregg from Antrim was one of the first sixteen settlers of Londonderry, New Hampshire in 1719.  He built a grist mill and was a leading citizen there:
  • he was the forebear of the Greggs of Nashua, New Hampshire.  David Gregg probably established the family’s fortunes with the businesses he set up in Nashua in the 1870’s.  His grandson Hugh was Governor of New Hampshire in the 1950’s; and his great grandson Judd later held successively the posts of Governor and Senator of New Hampshire. 
  • while another line led southward to Sullivan county in east Tennessee where Nathan Gregg was born in 1794.  He settled in Alabama.  His son John was a distinguished politician, judge, and Confederate general, but was killed during the fighting in 1864.  John Gregg from Sullivan county settled in Indiana.  His son John fought on the Union side in the Civil War and survived.
David and Andrew Gregg from Derry came to Boston in 1722.  David settled in New Hampshire.  Andrew's descendants made their home in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.  A later Andrew Gregg was the US Senator for Pennsylvania from 1807 to 1813.  Two of his grandsons John and David were Union generals during the Civil War.
And a Gragg family, beginning probably with John Gragg, was to be found in Augusta county, Virginia by the 1750’s. His son Robert later settled in Greene county, Tennessee.  Other Graggs made their home in Kentucky and in Caldwell county, North Carolina where there is a Gragg Creek and a Gragg cemetery.

Australia and New Zealand.  Griegs from the east coast of Scotland were 19th century arrivals there.  James Grieg and Catherine Cock from Midlothian were able to obtain a free passage on the Dumfries and arrived in South Australia in 1839.  They made their home at Cairn Hill near Riverton.  Daniel Grieg and his family from Dundee came to Wellington, New Zealand in 1874.  His son William was a prominent civic leader in nearby Upper Hutt.

William Gregg from county Antrim, drawn by gold, ventured first to Ballarat in Victoria in the 1850’s and then to Dunedin in New Zealand.  He was a coffee and spice manufacturer and made his mark in New Zealand with his Gregg’s Club Coffee.

Select Gregg/Greig Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for further stories and accounts:

Select Gregg/Greig Names

John Greg, Scots Irish, was the progenitor of an 18th century West India merchant family that were later cotton mill owners in Manchester.
William Gregg pioneered the development of cotton mills in the American South in the first half of the 19th century.
Aleksey Greig became an Admiral in the Russian navy in the 1820's. 
Edvard Grieg, from Scottish roots, was a Nowegian composer of the late 1800's, one of the leading Romantic composers of his time.  
Tony Greig, born in South Africa of Scottish parents, was the English cricket captain in the 1970's and subsequently a cricket commentator in Australia.

Select Greggs/Greigs Today
  • 13,000 in the UK (most numerous in Aberdeenshire)
  • 12,000 in America (most numerous in California)
  • 8,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)

PS.  You might want to check out the surnames page on this website.  It covers surname genealogy in this and companion websites for more than 800 surnames.

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