Gregory Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Select Gregory Meaning
surname Gregory
from a personal name that was popular throughout
Christendom in the
Middle Ages. The Greek original Gregorios
came from the word gregorein meaning
“to be watchful.”
This Greek name was borne by sixteen Popes, starting with
Gregory the Great in the sixth century. The Crusades of the
11th and 12th century gave the name another boost. It was the
fashion for
returning warriors from the Holy Land to christen their children with
or saintly names, particularly those that were associated with the
church. Gregorie was an early spelling.

Gregory Resources on

Gregory Ancestry

England. The Gregory surname was found from early times in the Midlands,
notably in Derbyshire and Leicestershire.

Derbyshire. Henry Gregory was recorded
at the village of
Eyam in 1295 and the name there has continued until modern times. One line has been traced from John Gregory
who married Elizabeth Bishop in Eyam in 1683, having survived the great
there twenty years earlier.

By that time the Gregory name had spread to
neighboring villages in the Derwent Valley such as Calver, Curbar,
Froggatt and
Stoney Middleton and also to Baslow and Hope.
The Gregory mine in Ashover, owned by the Gregory family at
farm, was in the late 18th century one of the most productive lead
mines in

Leicestershire. Gregorys
here, perhaps less numerous, have had a longer and probably more
history. They were recorded as the lords
of Asfordby in the late 1100’s and subsequently held manors there and
Freseley nearby in Warwickshire.

Thomas Gregory moved to Coventry as its town
clerk in 1528 and the family became sizeable landowners in that
area. His son
Arthur took possession of Stivichall House in 1563.
This house remained with the family until
1909 when Major F.H. Gregory died childless.

A later Thomas Gregory moved to
Ireland with Cromwell in the 1640’s and started the Anglo-Irish Gregory
line. From another line that had left for
Lancashire and then to Nottinghamshire were Henry and Goodie Gregory. Their son John was an emigrant to the New
colony in America around the year 1639.

Elsewhere. The Gregory name in
Buckinghamshire dates
back to the 1300’s when Richard Gregory held Gregory’s Manor in
Beaconsfield. John Gregory, born in
Amersham in 1607, was a Biblical scholar who died young.
A later Gregory family were millers at Amersham
from 1746 to 1863.

Sometime in the 1430’s William Gregory from
Mildenhall in Suffolk came to London where he prospered as a skinner. He was its Lord Mayor in 1451 and is
remembered today for his written work The Chronicle
of London

1465 William Gregory made his will by which it appears that he had been
times married (his wives being named Joan, Julian, and Joan
respectively) and
had nine grandchildren, seven by one daughter and two by another.”

In Cornwall the spelling could be Gregor. The
earliest recorded here was John Gregor at
Tregew in Fiock in a marriage settlement of 1342. These
Gregors in Cornwall
rose to some prominence in the 16th and
17th centuries
as merchants in Truro. Their principal
home was Trewarthenick House which remained with the family until 1909.

would appear to have been a north-directing trend for Gregorys during
the 19th
century. By the time of the 1881 census,
almost 20% of the Gregorys in England were located in Lancashire. There was at that time a particular
concentration in the area around Bolton, in villages such as
Westhoughton and

Scotland. Gregorius
appeared in early 12th century registers, Gregorie in 16th century
records. Today the Gregory surname is
most prevalent in NE Scotland.

James Gregorie, a saddler,
had married Margaret Barber in Aberdeen.
Their son John, born in 1598, became a minister at Drumoak and
was the
forebear of the famous Gregory
family of
which extended through the generations for nigh on two
years. The main lines went through:

  • John’s elder son David who inherited the
    family estate at Kinairdry.
  • and a
    younger son James, a famous mathematician who is credited with the
    discovery of

The Gregor name in Scotland
came from clan Gregor, the MacGregor Highland clan.
Some clan members changed their name to
Gregory when that clan was proscribed and outlawed in the 18th century.

Thomas Gregory from Asfordby served with Cromwell in Ireland and
his family
remained there. His great grandson Robert
went out to India in the 1750’s and made his fortune
as an East
India Company merchant. On his return in
1768 he purchased the Coole Park estate in Galway.

Robert’s line continued through his third son
William, who served as Civil Under-Secretary for Ireland, and William’s
grandson Sir William, appointed Governor General of Ceylon. Sir William’s second wife Augusta, Lady
Gregory, became more famous than her husband.
She embarked on a literary career and was one of the central
figures of
the Irish literary renaissance. Coole
Park was sold in 1927, just before her death.

America. John Gregory, a shoemaker
by trade, had come
to the New Haven colony and, around 1655, was a founding settler of the
town of
Norwalk, Connecticut. His 19th century
descendants in Norwalk included:

  • Francis Hoyt Gregory, an officer in the US Navy from the War of 1812 to the
    Civil War.
  • and Ira Gregory, a physician and state legislator. His
    son James was Surgeon General for Connecticut in 1882,
    granddaughter Alyse a writer and suffragette.

Gregorys in the South.
However, many more Gregorys were to be found in the South. Their numbers included old John Gregory of
the Piscataway Baptist church in New Jersey who had moved with his sons
to South Carolina by the 1740’s. Samuel
Gregory of this family moved to Georgia in 1799.

Richard Gregory from London had come to
Flowerdew Hundred in Virginia sometime in the 1630’s.
His descendants stayed in Virginia or
migrated to Tennessee after the Revolutionary War.
Two other Gregory families in Virginia,
unrelated, moved to Union county,
in the late 1700’s.

John Gregory, born in Virginia, moved to
Missouri in the 1830’s and farmed in Lewis county.
His son Alexander headed to Texas after the
Civil War and then to Oklahoma at the time of the land grab there. Edward Gregory from Virginia meanwhile had
settled in Wayne county, Kentucky by the early 1800’s.

Another Gregory line began with the birth of
Jesse Gregory in Onslow county, North Carolina in 1791.
He moved to Gadsden, Florida in 1824. His
son Jason started a tobacco and cotton
plantation at Ocheesee Landing in the 1840’s.

“The Gregory House at
Ocheesee was started in the fall of 1847 and finished two years
later. It faced
the river and sat on eight-foot brick pillars to keep it above the
water when
the river got out of its banks. The
house was built in the Greek Revival style, as were many of the
houses of the time.”

After the Civil War Jason managed to keep the
plantation going until 1873 when he moved the Gregory family to
Gainesville. He and most of his family
perished from the yellow fever that struck Florida in 1888.

John Gregory from London was a pioneer fur trader in Canada,
there in 1773 and soon becoming active in the Canadian West. He joined the NWC trading company in 1790 and
lived in some style in Montreal until his death in 1817.

Joshua Gregory from Nottinghamshire, in poor health after his
from the British army, was an early settler in Western Australia in
1829. He died there nine years later. But he left five sons, two of whom – Augustus
and Francis – became famous Australian explorers.

Two Gregory convicts who came to Australia

  • Henrietta Gregory from
    London who arrived in Sydney in 1814, but only lived another five years. Her son Edward, brought up in an orphanage,
    was the progenitor of the remarkable Gregory
    cricketing family.
  • and William Greaves alias Gregory from Derbyshire who was
    transported there in 1833. A resident of
    Newcastle, NSW after obtaining his Ticket of Leave, he was one of the
    of Australia’s Mid North Coast.


Gregory Miscellany

Early Gregorys in England.  H.B. Guppy had the following to say in his 1890 work Homes of Family
Names in Great Britain.

“Derbyshire is the great home of the Gregorys, who,
however, are also established in different parts of the country,
Northamptonshire ranking next to Derbyshire in this respect, but they
are rare
or absent in the east of England and in the northernmost counties.

In Derbyshire
they have been established for many centuries – the Eyam family of
carry their descent back to the times of Edward II.

Warwickshire family of
the name began their pedigree with John Gregory, lord of the manors of
and Asfordby in Leicestershire, in the 13th century.
About that time the name was also to be found
in Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire.”

The Gregors of Cornwall.  The family of Gregor came into some prominence
during the 16th and 17th centuries as merchants in Truro and their
wealth and
standing steadily increased. In the early 1600’s Francis Gregor began
property all over Cornwall.  It was his
son John who purchased Trewarthenick House in 1640.
This was to be the family home for over two
hundred years.

His son Francis was a learned man, interested in
antiquities and
in politics.  He carried on a lifelong
correspondence with two of his Cambridge associates – Dr. Stephens of
in Hampshire, a learned clergyman who was deeply interested in
literature; and Dr. Lombard, who was presented to the living of
Lanteglos-by-Camelford and whom Gregor had rescued from a tricky
situation in
Truro.  This learned German doctor had
been searching in vain for the road to Lanteglos, his atrocious
preventing anyone from understanding where he wanted to go.  The letters between these three scholars
still survive.

William Gregor, who was born in Trewarthenick on Christmas Day 1761, was a clergyman who developed an
interest in
Cornish minerals.  At the age of thirty
he was analysing the ilmenite sand from a Cornish beach when he came
across a
new substance that was unknown to him.
He named it manaccanite and it is now known as titanium.

The death of Charlotte Anne
Gregor in 1825, at the early age of 24, brought to an end the direct
line of
these Gregors.  Inheritance passed to a
relative, Loveday Sarah Gregor, and her husband assumed the name and
arms of
Gregor.  This line ended, as did the ties
with Trewarthenick House, in 1909.

The Gregory Family in Aberdeen.  The Gregory family papers kept in Aberdeen relate to
the distinguished family of academics, who descended from John
Gregorie, a
minister of Drumoak in Aberdeenshire, and his wife Janet Anderson in
the early
17th century. They had five children, Alexander, David, Margaret,
Isobel and
James.  The main lines came from David
and James.

Their eldest son Alexander was murdered in 1664 without issue and was
succeeded by his brother David to whom he left his estate of Kinairdry.

David, a doctor, married twice and was
reputed to have had 29 children.  Three
of them –  David, James, and Charles
–  went on to hold distinguished academic
careers at the Universities of Edinburgh, St Andrews and Oxford.  David’s son David became Regius Professor of
Modern History at Oxford and Charles’s son, also David, succeeded his
father to
the Chair of Mathematics at St Andrews.

John’s son James was a mathematician,
credited with the discovery of calculus, and was a contemporary and
friend of
Isaac Newton.  His son James was a
Professor of Medicine at King’s College in Aberdeen, the first of
medical professors that descended from this side of the family.

Robert Gregory and His Three Sons.  Robert Gregory went out to India in the 1750’s and made his
fortune as an East India Company merchant.
On his return in 1768 he purchased the Coole Park estate in
Galway.  He had three sons:

  • the eldest Robert followed in
    his father’s footsteps and took up a position with the East India
    Unfortunately, his passion for cock-fighting earned him his father’s
    enmity and
    in 1784 he was disinherited.
  • the second son Richard served in the army but was
    brought up on charges of cowardice when his troops deserted during the
    Valenciennes campaign in 1793. He withdrew from society and later
    suffered a
    stroke.  The animosity between Richard’s
    young wife – a schoolgirl who he had married secretly and then kept in
    separate house disguised as a sailor – and the wife of Robert Gregory’s
    son, William, led to his complete alienation from the family.
  • and it was only this third son William who did
    well, serving as Civil Undersecretary for Ireland from 1812 to 1830.

The Gregory line continued through this third son William.

The Gregorys of Union County, South Carolina.  There were two Gregory families that made their home
in Union county, South Carolina in the 1770’s, both coming originally
Virginia and neither apparently related.

One line descended from Isaac and Alse
Gregory of Mecklenburg county, Virginia who moved via the Piedmont
trail to
Union county in 1767.  Another line came
via Surry and Isle of Wight counties, Virginia along the coast to Union

Both of these lines had large families.
At one time it was said that you could stand on any part of Main
in Union and throw a stick.  No matter
the direction or how far you threw, it would hit a Gregory. 

The Gregory Cricketing Family in Australia.  In 1813 Henrietta Gregory, a servant, was convicted
at the Old Bailey in London of being in possession of a forged
banknotes and
sentenced to 14 years transportation to Australia.
She departed in 1814 on the convict ship Broxbornebury
with her four young

She was only to live another five years, dying in Sydney
at the age of
45.   Her three sons entered a male
orphan school by the Tank Stream.

her eldest son became an apprentice shoemaker and excelled at his work.  He was listed as a shoemaker with his brother
George on Castlereagh Street in Sydney in the 1828 census.
He and his wife Mary Ann raised seven sons –
Edward, Walter, David, Charles, Fred, Albert, and Arthur – all of whom
cricket and five of whom represented New South Wales.

The greatest of the seven
was David who captained the first Australian XI to defeat an
All-England team
in Australia in 1877.  He also
captained the first Australian team to tour England in 1880.  He was a man of striking appearance. According
to one observer, he “looked
like an Old Testament prophet not long out of training college.”

His brother Edward or Ned played in the first recognized Test match between
Australia and England
in Melbourne in 1877.  Ned’s son was Syd
Gregory, another famous Australian cricketer.
And Syd’s brother Charles was father to Jack Gregory, the fast
allrounder for Australia in the 1920’s.



Gregory Names

  • William Gregory was Lord Mayor of London
    in 1451 and is remembered today for his The
    Chronicle of London
  • James Gregory was a 17th century Scottish mathematician, credited with the
    discovery of calculus. He was a
    contemporary and friend of Isaac Newton.
  • Olinthus Gregory was an English mathematician, author and editor
    in the early 19th century. He was one of
    the founders of the Royal Astronomical Society. 
  • Augustus and Frank Gregory were intrepid explorers of the Australian outback in the mid-19th century. 
  • Dick Gregory was an African-American comedian
    and civil rights activist prominent in the 1960’s

Select Gregory Numbers Today

  • 39,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Lancashire)
  • 34,000 in America (most numerous in California)
  • 13,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)




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