Matthew Gray Jr.

Matthew Gray Jr. (1710 - 1783)

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Matthew Gray Jr.
Born in Aghadowey, County Londonderry, Irelandmap
Ancestors ancestors
Son of and [mother unknown]
[sibling(s) unknown]
Husband of — married 1734 (to 20 Dec 1764) in Worcester, Worcester County, Massachusetts Colonymap
Descendants descendants
Father of and
Died in Worcester, Worcester County, Massachusetts, United Statesmap
Profile manager: Mark Todd private message [send private message]
Profile last modified 27 Feb 2018 | Created 18 Feb 2017
This page has been accessed 265 times.


Matthew Gray, Jr. was born in 1710 in Aghadowey, Londonderry County, Province of Ulster, Northern Ireland. [4]

He was born and spent the first eight years of his life in a region where state-sponsored settlements were part of the Plantation (colonization) of the Province of Ulster in Northern Ireland, which had begun in 1609. This scheme, instituted by James VI of Scotland when he became King of England, was intended to confiscate all the lands of the Gaelic Irish nobility in Ulster and to settle the province with Protestant Scottish and English colonists on confiscated land. [2]

Matthew was a fourth-generation Ulster Plantation colonist whose family had resettled to Ulster from Essex, England, in 1640, alongside Ulster-Scot settlers. [1]

Both Ulster-Scots and resettled English weathered the turbulent relocation and colonization, but throughout the 18th century, considerable numbers of Plantation settlers began immigrating to the North American colonies. [5]

At the age of eight, Matthew Jr. accompanied his father Matthew Sr. and grandfather John Gray Jr., who emigrated to the Province of Massachusetts Bay, landing first in Boston on Aug. 4, 1718, and then settling later that year in Worcester, Worcester County, Province of Massacusetts. [1, 2, 5]

According to historian Charles Bolton, Matthew Sr’s father “John Gray had land laid out to him by the town's committee November 26, 1718” (page 187). [2]

Bolton explains, "Cotton Mather had in mind very early that the emigrants from Ulster would be useful settlers on the frontier. In 1718 the village of Worcester could claim a position on the Massachusetts frontier, although it lay only forty miles from Boston. First settled in 1674, it was deserted in King Philip 's war, 1675, and again in Queen Anne 's war, 1702" (p 178). [2]

But the Ulster Presbysterians "came to act as a buffer against the Indians, and instead of welcome they received surly conversation from the few inhabitants who turned out to meet them (p. 179). [2]

In 1734, Matthew Jr, married Jean (Jane) Kelso in Worcester. [3, 7] Jean was born in 1716 of another family from Londonderry, who had also emigrated to Worcester the same year as Matthew's family in 1718. [3, 7]

After 1737, according to records reported by Bolton, "The lands now included in the town of Pelham were being opened for settlement, and on the 21st of January, 1738-39, John Stoddard arranged to settle a number of families ... such as were inhabitants of the Kingdom of Ireland or their descendants, being Protestants." Names included in this resettlement as "proprietors" included John Gray Jr and Matthew Gray Sr (page 184). [2]

But records suggest that Matthew Jr. did not relocate to Pelham, some 30 miles from Worcester, where his wife Jean's parents Hugh and Sarah Kelso still lived. Matthew's father-in-law signed a will on 14 Jun 1737, in which he refers to Jean's husband as "my well beloved son Matthew Gray," and to whom Hugh bequeaths his "wearing cloaths [sic]," a gesture that may imply Matthew and Jean were regularly present in the Kelso household in Worcester at that time. [11]

Jean Kelso Gray passed away on 20 Dec 1764 in Worcester. [8] And a year and a half later, he married Elizabeth Forbush on 5 May 1766, also in Worcester. [9] There is no record of Elizabeth's death, but Matthew Jr married for a third time on 13 Aug 1773, also in Worcester. (Margaret was a Worcester County local born in Marblehead, in 1729.) [10]

Matthew Gray Jr passed away on 16 Feb 1783 in Worcester, Worcester County, Massachusetts, United States, and is buried in the Worcester Common Burial Ground. [4, 7]

His final wife Margaret died in 1800, also in Worcester. [10]

As a side note, the following appears on a special page at Find a Grave for the Worcester Common Burial Ground: "The Old Burial Ground was not the first but perhaps the oldest burial ground still in existence in Worcester. Founded about 1730, its boundaries were formalized at the order of the Selectman soon after March 1733/4. It is said to have been the only cemetery in use between 1730 and 1795 at Worcester. The first burial ground is thought to have been within the enclosure of the brick schoolhouse which was located at the intersection of Summer & Thomas Street and is supposed that those burials were removed here around 1730.

"In 1847, William S. Barton prepared a transcription of the Old Burial Ground which is the source for many of the burials listed here. Most markers within the grounds were buried and the land "smoothed over" in 1853. Some were taken by friends and family and a number of them are now in the possession of the Historical Society. Those markers present at this site are reproductions.

"In 1968, during the construction of the Worcester Center, 111 remains were removed and re-interred in the Hope Cemetery. Of these, forty-seven were identified and their markers moved with the remains, the other sixty-four were unidentified. A memorial to these 111 was erected to commemorate the re-interment." [12]

Matthew Gray Jr and Jean Kelso Gray appear on the registry for the "old Burial Ground," but neither Elizabeth nor Margaret do. [13]

Additional Biography Research Contributions

son of Matthew and Joan Gray (Scotch-Irish immigrants who landed in Boston, Aug. 4, 1718)

m1. Jean ___ d.Dec. 1764, age 48.
m2. Margaret McFarland

He had 21 children.


1. Raymond, Marcius Denison. Gray Genealogy: Being a Genealogical Record and History of the Descendants of John Gray, of Beverly, Mass. (Tarrytown, New York, 1887) Page 161

2. Bolton, Charles Knowles. Scotch Irish Pioneers in Ulster and America|Scotch Irish Pioneers in Ulster and America (Bacon and Brown, Boston, 1910)

  • Page 187: Matthew Jr. arrives in 1718 as child (age 8)
  • Page 183: Matthew Jr. and Sr. listed in Worcester County settlements in 1733.
  • Full digital text [1]

3. Massachusetts, Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988|Massachusetts, Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988," Worcester Births, Marriages and Death, Holbrook Research Institute (Jay and Delene Holbrook) for Jean Gray

4. Matthew Gray, Jr., Biographical Vitals, [2]

5. "U.S. and Canada, Passenger and Immigration Lists Index, 1500s-1900s.", database. [3]

6. “Ulster-Scots” Wikipedia. [4]

7."Massachusetts, Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988," Death records for both Matthew Gray Jr and first wife "Jane" (Kelso) Gray. database, image of original. [5]

8. Jean Kelso, biographical vitals. Ancestry,com. [6]

9. "Massachusetts, Town Marriage Records, 1620-1850." Record of marriage of Matthew Gray, Jr., and Elizabeth Forbush, 5 May 1776, database [7]

10. Margaret MacFarland, biographical details, database [8]

11. "Massachusetts, Wills and Probate Records, 1635-1991 for Hugh Kelso," Worcester Probate Records, Vol 1, 1731-1739, 1778-1814 and 1863-1870. database, with original image of the will [9]

12. for Matthew Gray Jr [10]

12. FindaGrave Page on "Worcester Common Burial GRound" [11]

13. "Massachusetts, Wills and Probate Records, 1635-1991 for Hugh Kelso," Worcester Probate Records, Vol 1, 1731-1739, 1778-1814 and 1863-1870. database, with original image of the will [12]

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