The Grays in the Highlands Part 3: Contributions From Rev. Joseph C. Brown

1799 Sutherlandshire ScotlandThis is the third installment of Chapter 2 of The Gray Clan with my research notes, questions and thoughts added. If you read something here and have a correction or additional information, I am all ears!

This third part of Chapter 2 contains information on pages 7-10. All of this information was provided by the Rev. Joseph C. Brown, first president of the American Branch of the Thomas Gray’s. The content in italics is the original text from the book. My notes and research will appear below it and start with [KG].

Here are links to the other published portions of this series:
The Grays in the Highlands Part 1: The Memories of Thomas Gray
The Grays in the Highlands Part 2: Leaving Their Beloved Skibo, Scotland

If interested, I’ve created a document where you can view/read the full text of Chapter 2 without my research notes.

We are impressed to insert some findings, which are a contribution of the Rev. Jos. C. Brown, 1st President of the American Branch of the Thomas Gray’s: Notes taken from the Scottish Antiquary Vol. VIII, IX. These are entitled:

GRAY OF SKIBO and Over Skibo, in Parish of Creich, Sutherlandshire.

The Family of Gray of Skibo is stated by Sir Robert Gordon, (History of Sutherland), to descend from Lord Gray of Foulls.

Lord Gray of Foulls was Andrew Gray, only son and heir of Sir Patirck, Master of Gray. He died 1513-1514, having married as second wife, Elizabeth, daughter to John Stewart, Earl of Athole. By his first wife, his son was John Gray of Culmaly, and by his second, Patrick Gray. (First wife’s name unstated.)

The second son of Lord Gray, having slain the constable of Dundee, fled to Ross, where he acquired lands, circa 1456. His descendant John Gray, in the time of Adam Gordon, 14th Earl of Sutherland, 1515 & 1514 to 1537, settled in Sutherland entering the service, first of Robert Stewart, then of Andrew Stewart, Bishops of Caithness.

From Bishop Andrew, John Gray obtained as reward for his many services rendered to the bishops, the feu of the lands of Culmaly, Kirkton, Rogart and Cuttle. He afterward exchanged Culmaly and Rogart with the Earl of Sutherland for Sordell or ‘Swordell’, Creich and the rest of the Church lands in the Parish. The Earl afterward named him as “Heritable Constable of the Castle of Skibo” and gave him the feu of the lands of Nether Skibo and others.

Recorded that in 1529 a feud arose between Bishop Andrew and Sutherland Baird of Duffius. The latter was killed. Then follows an account of how Alexander Gray, Vicar of Far was carried off to Duffis Castle, and was finally freed by the intervention of John Gray of Culmaly.

It seems that the second son of Lord Gray of Foulls was Andrew, as mentioned above, and that he married —– and had two sons, the one bearing the name of Andrew and the other Alexander, which doubtless is the one mentioned above, because he became the Vicar of Far. He in turn had a son James Gray living about 1514.

Alexander Gray mentioned above, was Chaplain of the Chapelry of Kinnold, in the Cathedral Church of Caithness, 1534(?) and from 1529 to 1559 Vicar of Far. In 1544 he settled his lands of Auchinlovy, in the Diocese of Caithness on John Gray of Culmaly and his male issues, with the remainder to Patrick, brother of John and his male issue.

NOTABLE THAT THE GRAY FAMILY SPREAD rapidly and obtained much Church preferment. Sir Thomas Gray was Vicar of Rosemarkie in 1546.

William Gray was Minister of Assynt, 1576.

William Gray was treasurer of Caithness, 1577-1820 (?)

Master James Gray was preacher at large, 1649, and William his son was preacher at Clyne.

The Grays of Arball and Newtoun and various other families, derive their origin from the Grays of Skibo.


[KG] You can download what I believe to be this same book from, A Genealogical History of The Earldom of Sutherland by Sir Robert Gordon. I haven’t had a chance to read the full book yet, but there are quite a few mentions of the Gray surname.


Alexander, second son of George Gray III of Skibo by Jane Gordon of Embo. By a disposition dated Skibo, June 15, 1694, Sasine on it Jan. 7, 1695, George Gray, writer of Edinburg, heritable proprietor of the lands of Over Skibo, disposed of them to Alexander Gray (brother of Robert Gray of Skibo) and Anna Munroe, his spouse conjunct fee and their heirs. Witness Robert Gray of Skibo; James Gray of Pitachgussie; Robert Gray commissary of Sutherland. His children were John and Jean.

John Gray, Second of Over Skibo. He served as heir general to his father Alexander Gray of Over Skibo, Oct. 20, 1741. He married Katherine, daughter of Duncan Fraser of Achnagairn. Their children were Alexander, Christian and Katherine.

Alexander Gray the Third of Over Skibo, served general to his father, Dec. 22, 175. There were two sasines, 1, Oct. b, 1764 in favor of Hugh Munroe of Teannich for the lands of Nulintoun of Alness. 2. Sept 20, 1776 in favor of George Ross for lands of Tarness and Pradlestoun, parts of the borough of Commertz. He married Rebecca MacDonald, May 1767. Their children were; Alexander and Janet.

Alexander the Fourth of Over Skibo, was heir special to his father Feb. 1, 1779. On May 18, 1779 on a precept from Chancery a Sasine was made to the same effect. He was the head of the firm of Gray and Agilvy. Army Agents of London. He married Mary Susanna only daughter of Richard Wainhous. Their children, Allen, Caroline, Harriet, Susanna. Alexander Gray, dying without legitimate male issue, the Estate of Cromarty in virtue of settlement to George Ross, (mentioned hereinafter) devolved upon Katherine Munroe, third of Calcairn and second wife of Hugh Ross of Glastullich, she being grandchild of Jean Ross (Sister of George) by her husband Robert Kirke of Dornoch. Much litigation ensued before Mrs. Ross came into possession of her claim, the opposer of her claim being an illegitimate son of George Ross.

(The above statement and disposition may have something to do with the of the property of George Ross by his will which proved in London, 1786. The most important items of that will are contained in the following account which was taken from the same general account in the “Scottish Antiquary.”)

WILL OF GEORGE ROSS OF CROMART and of Conduit St. Middlesex.——- Alexander Gray and John Agilvy of Spring Garden, upon trust, to realize all, etc. in Surry and Middlesex, West Indies, etc. To call in all monies due upon the lands of Over Skibo, still in Alexander Gray’s possessions. (Mortgages, etc. to pay off 30,000 lbs. Deducting 3000 lb for the lands of Over Skibo.)

These; to the trustees named in the marriage articles of Alexander Gray my nephew and Susanna his wife. The Trustees are to lay out any residue of monies in the purchase of lands in the County of Cromartz or adjacent counties. Then follows directions to payment of such invested monies-for factors to manage such Estates. (Following this statements of certain amounts to a large number of people.)

He desires his Nephew Alexander Gray and his other trustees to carry on all necessary improvements, expending nearly 200 lbs, attending to planning for plantations, enclosures to hedges, —- “I desire Mr. Gray to be at the expense of carrying on my poor Orphan Nephew Master George Gordon’s education; that he consult Dr. Ross under whose care I put him, as to the profession his genius leads him etc., —— (Flatters himself as to his disposition, etc.) “I have lived for many years, leaving to Mr. Gray to cause to mark the spot of my internment, etc., — Proved in London 1786.


[KG] I have yet to research any documentation for this information and I believe there may be typos in some of the person and place names.

(This all must be in -or about the time of the bitter persecution which arose in Scotland, both Religious and Political, which resulted in the Gray’s leaving their Scotland home and emigrating to the new America. Further certified information must come from some unbiased history of the Religious movement.)


We note these notes seem to be rather fragmentary, and of course we do not prove definite connection with the Gray’s who came to America. But as we read these items, the names, etc., we have the feeling that here are the men and women who are the forebears of the Gray’s we know so well here.

Signed J.C. Brown. Minister.

[KG] If anyone has additional thoughts or research to back up any of this information in relation to Thomas Gray, I’d love to hear from you!