Explore the Family Name Grey

The meaning of Grey

1. English, Scottish, and Irish: variant of Gray. 2. German: dialect variant of Grau. 3. In some cases also an American shortened and altered form of Ukrainian Grushko: nickname or topographic name derived from a Russian-influenced transliteration of grushka ‘pear, pear tree’. History: A leading English family called Grey, holders of the earldom of Stamford, can be traced to Henry de Grey, who was granted lands at Thurrock, Essex, by Richard I (1189–99). They once held great power, and Henry Grey, Duke of Suffolk (1517–54), married a granddaughter of Henry VII. Because of this he felt entitled to claim the throne for his daughter, Lady Jane Grey (1537–54), after the death of Henry VIII. For this, and for his part in Wyatt’s rebellion, both he and his daughter were beheaded. — Another family of the same name originated in Northumbria, where they held land at Wark-on-Tweed in 1398. Members include the Earls Grey, of whom the best known is probably Charles, 2nd Earl Grey (1764–1845), the prime minister under whom the 1832 Reform Bill was passed.

Dictionary of American Family Names, 2nd edition, © Oxford University Press, 2022.

How common is the last name Grey in the United States?

Based on the Decennial U.S. Census data, the popularity of the surname Grey has seen a slight decrease over time. In 2000, it was ranked as the 2691st most popular surname, lowering to 2845th place by 2010 which represents a decline of 5.72%. However, the actual count of people bearing this surname increased from 12,338 in 2000 to 12,680 in 2010, marking a growth of 2.77%. The proportion per 100,000 individuals also decreased from 4.57 to 4.3 during this period.

Proportion per 100k4.574.3-5.91%

Race and Ethnicity of people with the last name Grey

Regarding the ethnic identity associated with the Grey surname, the Decennial U.S. Census data reveals some interesting shifts between 2000 and 2010. The highest percentage of the Grey surname is identified as White, comprising 67.77% in 2000 and decreasing slightly to 65.19% in 2010. The percentage of those identifying as Black followed closely behind, experiencing a small increase from 22.79% to 23.29%. Hispanic representation saw the most significant growth, increasing by 66.41% from 2.59% to 4.31%. The proportion of Greys identifying as Asian/Pacific Islander and Two or more races also increased notably, while those identifying as American Indian and Alaskan Native decreased by 20.86%.

Two or More Races2.24%2.67%19.2%
American Indian and Alaskan Native3.02%2.39%-20.86%
Asian/Pacific Islander1.59%2.15%35.22%

Grey ancestry composition

23andMe computes an ancestry breakdown for each customer. People may have ancestry from just one population or they may have ancestry from several populations. The most commonly-observed ancestry found in people with the surname Grey is British & Irish, which comprises 44.7% of all ancestry found in people with the surname. The next two most common ancestries are French & German (21.2%) and Ashkenazi Jewish (6.2%). Additional ancestries include Eastern European, Scandinavian, Spanish & Portuguese, Italian, and Nigerian.

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British & Irish44.7%
French & German21.2%
Ashkenazi Jewish6.2%

Possible origins of the surname Grey

Your DNA provides clues about where your recent ancestors may have lived. Having many distant relatives in the same location suggests that you may all share common ancestry there. Locations with many distant relatives can also be places where people have migrated recently, such as large cities. If a large number of individuals who share your surname have distant relatives in a specific area, it could indicate a connection between your surname and that location, stemming from either recent ancestral ties or migration.

Based on 23andMe data, people with last name Grey have recent ancestry locations in United Kingdom and Ireland.

RECENT ANCESTRY LocationPercentage
Merseyside, United Kingdom78.40%
Greater Manchester, United Kingdom78.40%
Greater London, United Kingdom78.40%
West Midlands, United Kingdom77.90%
Tyne And Wear, United Kingdom77.60%

What Grey haplogroups can tell you

Haplogroups are genetic population groups that share a common ancestor on either your paternal or maternal line. These paternal and maternal haplogroups shed light on your genetic ancestry and help tell the story of your family.

The top paternal haplogroup of people with the surname Grey is R-CTS241, which is predominantly found among people with European ancestry. Haplogroup R-CTS241 is descended from haplogroup R-M343. Other common haplogroups include R-P311 and R-M405, which are predominantly found among people with European and European ancestry. Other surnames with similar common haplogroups are: Lloyd, Edwards, Lang, Davis, Simons, Wayne, Cooper, Smith, Browne, Richards.

The most common maternal haplogroups of people with Grey surname are: T2b, H, H1. These most commonly trace back to individuals of European ancestry.

greyPaternal Haplogroup Origins R-M343

Your maternal lineage may be linked to Marie Antoinette

Because it is so dominant in the general European population, haplogroup H also appears quite frequently in the continent's royal houses. Marie Antoinette, an Austrian Hapsburg who married into the French royal family, inherited the haplogroup from her maternal ancestors. So did Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, whose recorded genealogy traces his female line to Bavaria. Scientists also discovered that famed 16th century astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus traced his maternal lineages to haplogroup H.

Maternal Haplo Image

What do people with the surname Grey have in common?

Spoiler alert: it's complicated. People with the same last name are usually no more genetically similar than a randomly sampled group of people from the same population. That said, people with the same surname are more likely to have similar ancestries than randomly sampled individuals. The reason is the tendency of people with similar cultural or geographical backgrounds to preferentially mate with one another. That's why people who share a surname may be more likely to share traits and tendencies in common than people within the general population. Check out the percentages below to see the prevalences of tastes, habits, and traits of people with your surname compared with prevalences among 23andMe users.



Chocolate Ice Cream

Prefers chocolate flavored ice cream over other flavors.

"Grey" Surname 37.8%

23andMe Users 41.3%




When sounds made by others, like the sound of chewing or yawning, provoke strong emotional reactions in an individual.

"Grey" Surname 24.1%

23andMe Users 27.9%



Sugary Drink

Drinks one or more sugary drinks per day.

"Grey" Surname 16.4%

23andMe Users 21.1%




A severe headache characterized by intense pain, sensitivity to light and sound, and often accompanied by nausea and vomiting.

"Grey" Surname 19.8%

23andMe Users 16.4%

Are health conditions linked to the last name Grey?

The short answer is that, if there is an association between surname and health, it's usually more about your ancestry than your name. Individuals with a given surname are no more genetically similar than the general population but often have similar ancestries. The populations of people associated with those shared ancestries often have sets of genetic variations, also known as alleles, in common. Some of those alleles are associated with a greater likelihood of developing certain diseases.

Disease variant frequency by ancestry

Disease allele frequencies in populations associated with the surname Grey are shown below. Important Note: not everyone with a disease allele will develop these health condition

Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Y402H variant

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the most common cause of irreversible vision loss among older adults. The disease results in damage to the central part of the retina (the macula), impairing vision needed for reading, driving, or even recognizing faces. The 23andMe Health + Ancestry DNA test includes the two most common variants associated with an increased risk of developing the condition: the Y402H variant in the CFH gene and the A69S variant in the ARMS2 gene. Learn more about Age-Related Macular Degeneration

British & Irish 62.1%

23andMe Users 57.2%