Jack's comments on the Talk Below:
Please recognize that the speech was not given exactly as written. I improvised as I went along, and left out some parts of what is written, in the interest of time limits.
After all, if my name were not simply Jack Gregory, but Jack William Gates Gregory, I would still be nothing other than the person I am, though perhaps a great deal richer. But names are important, because we all seek to know from whence we come.
In the case of the name "Gregory," what's in a name is…
A great deal of mystery for many years, in my case, and then some mystery still remains, as I think it does for many of you.
Consider this: here I am a Gregory, whose family originated in Lancaster County, SC, -- A place probably not more than 80 to 100 miles from here. So a casual observer would think there might be some connection between my Lancaster County Gregorys and your Gregorys from Union county… most likely they would be wrong, though their logic in assuming a connection would be hard to argue with.
My point is, that things are not always as they seem. And assumptions made on good logic are not always correct.
My ancestors were a Willis and Martha Gregory, and they came to SC in the early 1800s, from the easternmost counties of NC -- Craven and Jones counties about halfway up the NC coast.
Prior to that the family seems to have originated in the Tidewater coastal area of VA, around the early 1600s and 1700s, before moving down into what is now Bertie and Northampton Counties in NE, NC, and thence ever southward, but always coastal, through NC to finally Lancaster and Chesterfield counties, SC.
And here you are, Union County Gregory's descended from Isaac and Alse Gregory, who came here from the Middlepart of VA.
Given the short distance here in SC between the Gregorys of Union County and Lancaster County, as I said before, one could easily assume a relationship between the two families, and there might be one, but I have not found it. Most certainly it would pre-date the arrival of Isaac Gregory and Willis Gregory in SC, in the late 1700s, and early 1800s. But, whether such a relationship existed in say, VA, is unknown, and will remain unknown until either family can trace its origins back even further in time.
Now I have been asked to address the question as to the most likely origin of either family's name -- is it English, or from McGregors who had changed their name to Gregory, which many McGregors did from 1606 - up until modern times even. I cannot speak for the family of Isaac Gregory, and I cannot say for certain as to the family of my own Willis Gregory. I can only offer a few thoughts, which would argue for equal consideration of either possibility.
First, until about 8 years ago I was very much certain the chances were Gregory was from Highland McGregors who had changed their name during the time of the name's proscription by the King of Scotland. I did not know any other Gregory families, and my own Mother's family was Highland Scot, and of course, one always heard that so much of the South was settled by Scotch-Irish, that it made sense the name came from Scotland. The Highlanders and the Scotch-Irish make for a romantic tale, as is so often the case with the Gael and the Celt in our culture.
Whose heart does not respond to the stirring war cry of a skirling bagpipe, or remember the cry, "Scotland Forever," or the famous tales of the McGregor, "Rob Roy? "
We all do, and we all probably long to claim that heritage for ourselves. I certainly did.
But, as I went further into research on the name, I discovered that a good many English families had taken the name during or after the reign of Pope Gregory the Great who lived, I believe, around the time of 600 AD. In fact, that name was taken all over Europe in honor of that great Pope. Quite an ancient time, you see -- 13 hundred and 99 years ago, for English Gregorys to get established. In Fact, in Catholic England, before the Reformation and the arrival of Protestantism, this was a popular name and many infants were Christened with this name because Pope Gregory had been especially instrumental in converting the people of the English Kingdom of Kent to Christianity.
Now add to that the fact that most Highland Scots did not start arriving in America until about 1740, and they continued to come up until about the year 1800. Almost all settled in the Cape Fear Valley of NC -- that is, around Fayetteville, NC.
But Willis Gregory's family seems to go back to VA in the early 1600s, long before most Highland Scots got here. Isaac Gregory and his wife were in what is now Mecklenburg County, VA, in 1761.
If you go to the web site Ben and Reg Gregory have established, and link to Cousin Ken's page, and then from there eventually to a page by one lady, a MS. M. Guyette Wardlaw -- on the Gregory name -- you will discover records of early VA, that record Gregory immigrants. Almost all came from England. The earliest recorded there is a Richard Gregory in 1624.
Now consider some statistics: According to a book I have, written by a Lewis Joel Gregory and Ella Valera Gregory in 1968, who were researching the family of Willis Gregory of Lancaster County, [Willis Gregory Family History 1785 to 1968] there were probably about 20 Gregorys in the year 1625 in the American Colonies. Almost all of them were in Virginia. Almost all the ships that carried emigrants to Virginia in that century left from England and carried English passengers.
The Highland Scots who came to America in the 1740s and later, seemed to have left primarily from Scottish ports, and they went primarily to the Cape Fear valley in NC for the next 60 years.
In 1790, when the first United States Census was made, the population of the new America was recorded in terms of nationality and 60% were English, 15% Scotch-Irish, 6% Scotch Highlander, and 19% miscellaneous. Numbers alone would indicate that most people in America in the late 1700s, other than those in the Cape Fear valley, were English, and a smaller percentage (15%) Scotch Irish. It is absolutely amazing how many of us are probably English but want to be something else!!
Now, I will be the first to admit that numbers can be recorded inaccurately, and that statistics can be misleading, but I believe the preponderance of the evidence suggests a very strong English connection for the name Gregory for some us.
Well, next we come to the matter of the Scotch-Irish. So many of us trace our roots to that much-mentioned race in the exploration and settlement of the early American colonies. There isn't a hint of English in that term. But, also, despite the term, the fact is there is very little Irish in the Scotch-Irish, except for the ancient Gaelic connection between Ireland and Scotland. The Scotch-Irish were primarily Protestant Lowland Scots and some English. They were re-settled by the Crown of England in Northern Ireland to reduce the Catholic influence of the Catholic Irish natives there. And there was a good bit of English Anglo-Saxon in those Lowland Scots, as, at one time, there was a Kingdom of Angles in what is now Lowland Scotland.
But to the main point -- whence the name Gregory? The possibility is for both a connection to England and to Highland McGregor. But the greater possibility seems English here in SC. Look, for example to names: names given to male children, and to the Counties these Gregorys lived in and live in today.
There is a Lancaster County in SC and VA, a York County in SC, a York County in VA, a Yorktown in VA, a city of Lancaster in England, a province of England named Yorkshire and a province there named Lancanshire.
Draw your own conclusions, but I tend to think that people name their towns and counties after places from which they came. In some cases that was not true -- in some cases, the more educated gave their town a Greek name, such as Athens, GA.
But the main point, I think, holds true.
And : If we were to look to male first names consider that the Highland Scots of my Mother's family and their relatives gave first names that differed quite remarkably from traditional English names.
Consider these Highland first names, still in use in and around Fayetteville, NC, among Highland Scots families: Duncan, Donald, Douglas, Malcolm, Ian, Ira, Neil, Arthur, Raymond, Harold, Hector, Hilburn, Daniel, Michael, Archibald.
But hardly ever, among those Highland families such names as William (or Will or Bill) or Roger, Richard, Samuel (or Sam), or Thomas, (or Tom), or Robert (or Bob).
Those last I mention are traditional Anglo-Saxon first names, or Norman-Saxon first names.
So there you have it. But whatever the case, this has been a wonderful journey to discover my roots, just as I am sure, you enjoy the journey to discover yours -- and perhaps our roots will intertwine, and once again remind us all, that here in this great Country of ours, we have been able to conquer the ancient tribal conflicts that still engulf Europe today: between Celt/Gael and Anglo-Saxon, German and French, German and Slav, Italian and Greek. It is only here, in America, that we have been able to resolve those ancient tribal hatreds and make of us all, one people, one nation … the Greatest Nation on Earth. May it ever be so.