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John GRAY, Sr.

Male Bef 1617 - Bef 1663  (< 45 years)

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  • Name John GRAY 
    Suffix Sr. 
    Born Bef 23 Nov 1617  Harrow on the Hill, Middlesex, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Christened 23 Nov 1617  Harrow on the Hill, Middlesex, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    Died Bef 25 Feb 1663  Newtown, Long Island [now Suffolk County, NY] Find all individuals with events at this location 
    • (1) England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975:

      Name: John Gray
      Gender: Male
      Christening Date: 23 Nov 1617
      Christening Date (Original): 23 Nov 1617
      Christening Place: Harrow on the Hill, London, England

      (2) Schenck, Elizabeth Hubbell, The History of Fairfield, Fairfield County, Connecticut, Vol. I, New York, NY: 1929, p. 374:

      JOHN GRAY, who first settled at Lynn, Mass. & m. before May 1639 Elizabeth d. of William Frost 1., & widow of John Watson of Boston, sold his home-lot at Lynn in Aug. of the same year, & probably accompanied his father-in-law to Uncoway, before the 28. of Sept. following. He was granted 2½ acres on the s. w. of the Frost Square, which he sold a few years after to Alexander Bryan, who re-sold it to Henry Rowland 1. 18. March 1649. He probably moved to Long Island, as his name is mentioned there, in Thompson's Hist. of L. I. He no doubt had other children, besides the two mentioned without Christian names, in William Frost's will: but of him I find no more.

      (3) Beers, Josephine W. Beers and Prindle, Paul W., "The Gray or Grey Family," The American Genealogist, Vol. 64 (July 1989), pp. 166-167:

      JOHN GRAY, son of William Gray of Harrow on the Hill, co. Middlesex, England, immigrated to New England. Charles Edward Banks' posthumous Topographical Dictionary of 2885 English Emigrants (Philadelphia 1937), p. 110, states that Henry and John Gray came to Fairfield, Conn., from Hackney, but provides neither a date nor the name of the vessel. Thomas Lechford, in his letter of 1639 to William Frost, stated that Henry Gray's brother, a citizen of London, had promised to stock Henry with £100 worth of commodities from time to time. It seems probable that this brother was William, who is known to have been a merchant.

      One authority has John Gray, a tailor, as marrying the widow ELIZABETH (FROST) WATSON prior to 1638; in 1639 they sold their house in Lynn, Mass., and moved to Fairfield. . . .

      The sale on 6 March 1639 of their Lynn property to Valentine Hill of Boston for £12 was reported in an "Indenture &c. Betweene John Grey of Boston in new England planter and Elizabeth his wife," in which they sold "their house & home lott conteyning one acre and five acres of land more thereto belonging in Lynne," with the understanding that Hill would try to sell the property; if he sold it for more than £12, he was to pay 40s. to Joseph Armitage and the rest to John Grey. . . . Since John is called of Boston, he and Elizabeth may have intended to live in Lynn, but instead moved to Fairfield. They had done so prior to 26 or 27 Sept. 1639 when "Anna Watson daughter of John Watson Deceased [was) dwelling with her mother-in-lawe [i.e., stepmother] Elizabeth the wife of John Grey welling neare Ouinapeage". . . . Quinnipiac was the name of New Haven from 1638 until 1640. Fairfield, some 20 miles from New Haven but within the jurisdiction of the New Haven Colony, was settled in 1639.

      By 18 Sept. 1640, when they sold their house in Boston, John's brother, Henry Gray, had married Elizabeth's younger sister, Lydia Frost. Not long afterward, Henry and Lydia moved to Fairfield, where Lydia's father, William Frost, had settled, and continued to live there. Henry's brother, John Gray and his family, however, moved to Newtown, previously called Middleborough, Long Island, perhaps in 1649, according to an undocumented statement. . . .

      John Gray died at Newtown before 25 Feb. 1663 when John Hobby, husband of Sarah, the daughter of John Gray, acknowledged receiving Sarah's portion of her father's estate. . . .

      Children (GRAY) of John and Elizabeth (Frost)(Watson), the first two being mentioned, although not by name, in the 1644/5 will of Elizabeth's father:

      i SARAH b. ca.1642; m. ca.1662 JOHN HOBBY. . . .

      ii JOHN Jr. b. ca.1644. On 12 Sept. 1665 "John Gray, liver at Elizabeth River in New Jersey," signed an agreement concerning his portion of his father's estate to be received from his "father in law" (i.e., stepfather), John Ramsden. Three days later John Gray acknowledged receiving the promised livestock. . . .

      iii (Poss.) DANIEL. "In Raymond's Gray Genealogy in that portion treating of the Fairfield Grays, he says there was a Daniel Gray related to but not a descendant of Henry Gray and it is believed he was John Gray's son". . . . We have seen no record to support this assumption.

      iv SAMUEL b. ca.1649. On 16 April 1666, Samuel and Isaac Gray signed an agreement with "John Ramsden, our father in Law" to serve him for six years and then to receive land "which was formerly John Grays, deceased, owne father to Sameuell & Isack". . . . He followed Luke Watson to Whorekil, Sussex Co., Del., ca.1675 and became a prominent citizen there. William Penn thrice appointed Samuel as a Justice of the Peace. . . .

      v ISAAC b. ca.1651; for evidence of his parentage see his brother Samuel above. He remained on Long Island and in 1690 was still living in Newtown. In 1699 he was living in Jamaica, Long Island. . . .

      (4) Banks, Charles Edward, Topographical Dictionary of 2885 English Emigrants to New England, 1620-1650, Philadelphia, PA, Elijah Ellsworth Brownell, 1937, p. 110:


      Name of the Emigrant: GRAY, John
      English Parish Name: Hackney
      Ship's Name:
      New England Town: Fairfield, Connecticut
      Various Reference: N.E.G.R. 61/386

      (5) Wilson, Lynn Winfield, History of Fairfield County, Connecticut, Vol. I, Chicago, IL and Hartford, CT: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1929, pp. 62-63:

      The first settlers who came with [Roger] Ludlow [to Fairfield, CT] were Thomas Staples, Thomas Newton, Edward Jessop, and Edmund Strickland. In September of this year, 1639, came William Frost, Daniel, his son, and John Gray, his son-in-law, who had come from Lynn, Mass., John Nichols of Stratford, John Foster, Francis Purdie, Henry Whelpley and Richard Wescott. This was the beginning of the settlement which for many years would be the chief town of Fairfield County.

      John Frost [sic; should be William Frost] was an old man when he arrived, and feeble. He had fled from persecution in England, seeking to live peacefully in New England. At his death in 1645 he left the town ten pounds toward building a meeting-house.

      (6) Mary Sibyl Gray May et al., A History of One Branch of the Fairfield, Connecticut, Gray Family, Middletown, CT: Godfrey Memorial Libary, 1953, pp. 3-10:


      John Gray's name together with his brother Henry's is on a ship passenger list that was compiled by Banks, "Topographical Dictionary of 2885 English emigrants to New England 1620 - 1650", p. 110. The name of the ship is not given but their destination, Fairfield, Connecticut is, and also their residence previous to embarkation, Hackney Parish, Middlesex Co., England. The Grays had lands in Hackney and in Harrow- on-the-Hill. On the same list is the name of the brothers' father-in-law, of Nottingham, England, also bound for Fairfield, Connecticut, William Frost. Mr. Frost, a man of good family and of advanced years emigrated to New England it is thought to secure religious peace. He too was a Puritan. He came with all his family excepting a daughter, Mary Rylie who stayed in England. Henry Gray married Lydia Frost and John Gray married her sister Elizabeth Frost (Watson) widow of John Watson of Boston. She had three children, Luke, Johanna, and Susanna. It is important to remember the name of Luke Watson as he became a great builder of the Commonwealth but also because of his constant association with John Gray his step-father, and through the movements of Watson we trace the identity of our John Gray as against others of that name.

      John Gray and Elizabeth Watson were married in May 1639. They were all in New England by 1638 as Lechford says he met his old acquaintance Master Frost in Boston in 1638 with his sons Henry and John Gray.

      There are various accounts of their movements before they went to Fairfield but it seems they may have been confused with others, the conclusive evidence is that in 1639 before Sept. 28th they were all in Fairfield, Connecticut where they held extensive properties as may be seen on consulting old records. John was granted 2½ acres on the South West of Frost square where he lived and which he sold a few years afterward. He was in Fairfield for ten years when he emigrated with his family to Flushing Long Island. Henry, his brother stayed on in Fairfield and his descendants have been accounted for in the Gray and Frost genealogies.

      Henry was in middle life at the time of his emigration and in all probability John was not exactly young.

      William Frost made his will in 1644 and a part is given below.

      "I give and bequesth to my daughter Elizabeth and John Graye the sowe the same that he hath to winter and all her increase and the third part of my household goods: and to Luke (Watson) the two yeare old blacke heifer that goodman Close hath to the halfs for fower yeares, the profits to be for the said Luke, and to Susanna and Johanna Watson daughters to Elizabeth, one blacke heifer that John Graye hath to the halves for fower years and the profits to them both equally. And the red heifer that Daniell Froste wintereth I give to John Gray's owne two children. . . ."

      He left all his goods and lands that he had in England to his daughter Mary Rylie and her children. And to the town of Fairfield fifty pounds toward the building of a church. This was the first Puritan church built in the town and was called Church of Christ which is what the early Puritans named their churches. They were of course Independents not Pilgrims as at Plymouth.

      If only William Frost had mentioned the names of John Cray's owne children he would have saved genealogists a lot of searching. Mr. Frost died in 1645.

      When John Gray went to Long Island in 1649 he was not going out of Connecticut territory as it was still under the Plymouth Colony grant of 1620. But the Dutch had made claims, and settlements by Dutch pioneers were being established, so that there were constant clashes between the two. This will made clear just why the records say sometimes John Gray of Flushing, John Gray of Newton, John Gray of Heemstead. They were the same man. The English were driven out of certain settlements, patents became void and lands were taken up in other localities. Mewton or Newtown as it is sometimes in old records, was in the earlier days known as Middleborough or Middleburg. For a better understanding of what happened to John Gray at Newton it would be profitable to read the early history of Long Island and to understand the confusion of ownership that both the English and the Dutch settlers suffered. They were bewildered by boundaries that were not definite, where claims overlapped and in a number of cases they did not even know to whom they owed allegiance. This should be held in mind in the following court case account of John Gray; other English were involved in the same difficulties, men associated with him and Luke Watson, who was a very prominent figure in the Island's activities.

      In documents relating to the Colonial History of New York v. 14 pp. 284-287 we find:

      The case of John Gray (orig) of Middleburg (Newton, Long Island) His Examination on the charge of having abused the Magistrate of Middleburg, Aug 15, 1654.

      "The fiscal charges that John Gray a resident of the Village of Middleburg (NewTown) on Long Island was arrested for stealing and branding two calves the property of Thomas Grijidi that he has not paid his taxes and that he had harbored privateers which had harassed the country side." Bear in mind that these privateers were English taking what they believed were properly their own.

      "Also that he threatened to take the lives of any that came to take his lands for taxes. He was therefore arrested and imprisoned in March, 1653."

      When his case came up before the local council he declared he did not remember threatening the magistrates that two calves had been taken from him that belonged to his children and that he had given shelter only to his son and Thomas Willckeson. He confessed to being guilty of disobeying the Magistrates and acknowledged to uttering threats which his son Luke (Watson) was to carry out to create a great commotion in the Village. He stated that he had not believed that he owed allegiance to the village authorities (believing himself under the English charter).

      The petty magistrates recommended to the General Council that for these misdeeds the prisoner be flogged with rods, imprisoned until he paid taxes, fines, and costs of the court cause and then banished from the country. The case came before the Director-General, who was the great Peter Stuyvesant himself, on August 17, 1654. In the presence of the Council of New Netherland, Peter Stuyvesant declared his hearing of both sides and very judicially pointed out that the ungovernable passion the prisoner had displayed had been aroused by the fact that he believed the patents to the land he owned were his absolutely and that he had a right to defend them. But that it was found that those lands lay within the compass of certain areas that were originally agreed to belong to the community for selling to newcomers if any so made application which had lately happened. The three agents who sold John Gray his lands were Englishmen, but now the territory was claimed by the Dutch and John Gray as well as other Englishmen nearby were the unfortunate victims.

      Peter Stuyvesant's decision in the case was that all of John Gray's lands be confiscated excepting those he had under tillage, and fenced and otherwise improved and that he was to be given also as much land as would be equal to what the other villagers had had granted to them, and patents be given assuring him and his heirs ownership forever. This was fine Dutch justice but accompanying it were humiliating requirements: he had to kneel bareheaded before the magistrates asking pardon. To ask an English yeoman who was a Puritan with all the stubborness and pride that any Dutch magistrate could possibly have to kneel and apologise would be bitter indeed, but necessity had no choice. It is probable he would not have got off as easily as he did were it not for the fact that he was a prominent man in the community. He was one of the first patentees of Newton, Long Island, being with three exceptions, the largest contributor among many to the expense of the purchase. At this period classes were divided socially as strongly as in England. It is true all men worked, there was no true aristocracy, but there was a dividing line which disposed men Into four classes. The only true democracy probably to be found was at Plymouth. The four classes were gentlemen, yeomen, merchants and mechanics. The first two were frequently merged into one, especially If the yeoman owned enough land, and were looked upon as belonging to the upper class and were entitled to use Mr. or Master before their names.

      In 1658 he is still in New Town and is in trouble again, this time because he adhered too strictly to the law. See Early Colonial Documents Relating to the Early History of New York v. 14, p. 424.

      "Right of way in Middleburgh (New Town) L.I. July 9, 1658.

      ["]Thomas Stivenson, plaintiff vs. John Gray and Samuel Sales defendants.

      ["]Plaintiffs states that defendants have cut down his posts and rails, to which defendants make answer that plaintiff obstructed the road ordered to be made. Having listened to the contesting parties, Peter Stuyvesant and Council order the defendants not to use nor make any other road than the one now in use until the law shall direct otherwise and for their unseemly behaviour toward each other both parties had to pay a fine of one pound sterling, etc."

      During the years - no record is available - Elizabeth Frost Watson Grey had died and her husband had married a daughter of John Ramsden.

      Previous to 1666 John Gray himself died.

      Children of John Gray and Elizabeth Frost (Watson) Gray:

      [i] Daniel ?

      [ii] John married _____

      Samuel and Isaac Gray were sons of John Gray but by which wife, Elizabeth or the daughter of John Ramsden whose first name we do not know, it is impossible to say.

      In Raymond's Gray Genealogy in that portion treating of the Fairfield Grays, he says there was a Daniel Gray related to but not a descendant of Henry Gray and it is believed he was John Gray's son. No second son appears in either Long Island nor New Jersey records, so this seems probable, Daniel may have gone back to Fairfield. It may well be that there were other children too but we have no record of their birth. Subsequent accounts of the second John Gray in this paper suffices to show that he was one of the two grandchildren named in William Frost's will as "John Gray's owne children".

      There is documentary proof of the parentage of Samuel and Isaac Gray after John Gray's death when they were indentured to their grandfather or step-grandfather. The following proves the relationship:

      From Town Minutes v. 1 Newtown N.Y. p. 159:

      "This indenter made the slxtene day of April and in the eighteenth reign of our dread soverigne lord Charles the second of England, Scotland, france and ireland king defender of the faith, etc: Between Sameuell Gray and Isaac Gray of the one partie and John Ramsden of the other parties both of the town of Middleboro (Newtown) in the cuntrie of Yorkshire upon Long Island wltnesseth that the foresaid Sameuell and Isack Graie do with their own full consent covenant and agree with the foresaid John Ramsden to serve him or his assines for and during the tarme of six whole yeres commencing from the day of the date hereof compleated and ended to serve in such service as he the foresaid John Ramsden our father in law" (father by law) "shall imploy us in according in the custom of the cuntrie and do hereby promise to be true and faithfull servants to our said father and master not absenting ourselves from his said service without his leave and license during the said tarme for and in consideration whereof I the foresaid Sameuell and Isack; for their said scervice at the expiration of the foresaid tearme of six yeares all the upland and me do which was formerly John Gray's, deceased, owne father to Sameuell and Isaac with all the prophits, preveledges and appurtinences there upon or there unto belonging known or reputed to be the land and medo of the foresaid John Gray situated and lying in the bound of the foresaid middleburrow as all so two good oxen and two good cowes with calves by their sides with two breeding sowes as also to fence the said land which is now in tillage about with sufficient posts and railes, and to give the said Sameuell and Isaac provision to serve them a whole yeare and to bring them to reading and wrighting in their said servitude as also to find them meat and drinke apparill and lodging during the said tarme and at the end of there services to give them ech of them two sutes of apparill to have and to hold the foresaid upland and medo with all the proffits, priveleges and appurtenances there upon or thereunto appertaining unto the foresaid Sameuell and Isaac their heires and assines forever; with the foresaid oxen and cowes and all the other fore mentioned premeses to be really and absolutely delivered unto them their heires or assines at the expiration of the aforesaid tarme by me the above said John Ramsden promising for myself my heiress and assines to defend and keep to aforesaid upland and medo with all the profits, priveleges and appurtenances thereunto belonging unto the sd Samuell and Isack their heires and assines forever from any parson or parsons whatsoever that shall lay claime or title thereunto except a forraine invasion in witness whereof we above said parties have hereunto put to our hands and seales the day and yere above written anno domoni 1666 sined and sealed and delivered in the presence of:

      Edward Fisher

      Luke Watson

      before sealing

      Sameuell (X) Gray [His mark]

      Isack (X) Gray [His mark]

      John Ramsden

      Jo: Ramsdem promis to give them a mare colt

      recorded by me

      John Burroughs.

      This careful arrangement for the bringing up and protection of the young lads, with the oversight of their kinsman Luke Watson followed a tradition among the colonists in which documents were witnessed by relatives whenever possible. On page 123 the NewTown minutes, New York, Aprill the 16th 1672 is the instrument showing that they have come through their six years of servitude and are now ready to assume responsibility for themselves and to receive their patrimony:

      "Received then in full of all accounts of our Father John Ramsden a year's diet only excepted by us."


      Elias Doughty
      Will Wright

      The mark of Sameuell (X) Gray

      Isack Gray

      Isaac had learned to write but not Sameuell!

      Isaac remained in Long Island and was still living at NewTown in 1690 according to the Town Minutes and he figures in the Jamaica Long Island records in Jan. 3, 1699.

      Samuel followed Luke Watson to Whorekill, Sussex Co., Delaware, around 1675 and became a prominent citizen there. In Turner's Some Records of Sussex Co. Delaware there are many references to him. After many small offices of trust he was appointed by the honored William Penn a second time as Justice of the Peace, and again a third time. So somewhere along the way he too learned to read and write. It is gratifying that all the Grays down the generation we are recording were able to read and write for during the early history of the colonies it was not at all a common thing. It was years before there were schools in the Plymouth Colony.
    Person ID I5497  Frost, Gilchrist and Related Families
    Last Modified 26 Sep 2018 

    Father William GRAY, Sr,   d. Bef 3 Feb 1648, Harrow on the Hill, Middlesex, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Relationship natural 
    Family ID F25638  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Elizabeth FROST,   b. Bef 24 Nov 1614, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Bef 12 May 1682  (Age < 67 years) 
    Married Bef 11 May 1639 
     1. Sarah GRAY,   b. Abt 1642  [natural]
     2. John GRAY, Jr.,   b. Abt 1644,   d. 1724, Jamaica, Queens County, NY Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 80 years)  [natural]
     3. Daniel GRAY[?]  [natural]
     4. Samuel GRAY,   b. Abt 1649  [natural]
     5. Isaac GRAY,   b. Abt 1651,   d. Aft 1699  (Age ~ 49 years)  [natural]
    Last Modified 26 Sep 2018 14:55:00 
    Family ID F2951  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart