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Graue Coat of Arms / Graue Family Crest

The first hereditary surnames on German soil are found in the second half of the 12th century, slightly later than in England and France. However, it was not until the 16th century that they became stabilized. The practice of adopting hereditary surnames began in the southern areas of Germany, and gradually spread northwards during the Middle Ages. The German surname of GRAUE is of two-fold origin. It was originally an English nickname for someone with grey-hair or a grey beard, derived from the Old English word GROEG. It was also a Norman-French and Scottish habitation name from GRAYE in Calvados, so called from the Gallo-Roman personal name GRATUS meaning 'welcome and pleasing'. The name has travelled widely and has numerous variant spellings which include GREY, LEGRAY, GRAUER, GRAUMANN, SCHRAAWEN, GRAUBERD, GRAUBERG and GRUBARD, to name but a few. During the 17th century surnames were brought to Britain, North America and southern Africa by French Huguenot exiles. The Huguenots were French Protestants, and in 1572 large numbers of them were massacred in Paris on the orders of Queen Catherine de'Medici. Many of the survivors sought refuge in England and elsewhere. Although the Edict of Nantes (1598) officially guaranteed religious toleration, persecution continued, and the Edict was revoked by Louis XIV in 1685. It was then the trickle of emigration became a flood. Many migrated to England, while others joined groups of Dutch Protestants settling around the Cape of Good Hope. Others sailed across the Atlantic to establish themselves in North America. Notable members of the name include Thomas GRAY (1716-1771) was the English poet and author of 'Elegy in a Country Churchyard' and 'On a Distant Prospect of Eton College', and many more. Edward Whitaker GRAY (1748-1806) was the English botanist and physician. In 1773 he was appointed librarian to the College of Physicians and in 1787 became keeper of the natural history collections at the British Museum. An interesting member of the name was Elisha GRAY (1835-1901) the American Inventor born in Barnesville, Ohio. He was a manufacturer of telegraphic apparatus, his firm became the Western Electric Company. His 60 patents included a multiplex telegraph. He also claimed the invention of the telephone, but lost the patent rights to Alexander Graham Bell after a long legal battle in the US Supreme Court.

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Last Updated: April 12th, 2023

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