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The genesis of this compilation lies with Isabel Douty, one of my numerous Gray cousins. She wrote to me some three years ago saying she felt that before it was too late, a record should be made of the lives of our fathers and their siblings, the Gray generation I have called the Keabog Grays. She drew attention to the diversity of the professions and occupations they followed, mainly abroad and largely with success, at the high point of the British Empire and all the more remarkable (though not unique) for their humble beginnings in a small and remote farmhouse in rural Scotland. Having drawn up and maintained a family tree starting with the same generation, originally as an interest for my father when he was recovering from an operation and now the responsibility of Richard Druce who has reissued it as the Gray Genealogy, I felt it incumbent on me to accept the challenge. (I suggest this booklet should be regarded as complementary to the Genealogy and read in conjunction with the relevant parts of it).
The Keabog Grays numbered sixteen, all born over 26 years between 1876 and 1902 at the farmhouse of Keabog. However, this record covers only fifteen of them, since Alice Barnett Gray, the twelfth child, born in 1892, did not survive, dying of bronchitis at the age of 2 months. The size of the family was not unusual in those times in Scotland but when infant mortality was commonplace it is remarkable that only one of the sixteen should fail to reach adult life.
In the individual sections of the fifteen, it will be noted that there is generally more information about those who remained in the United Kingdom than about those whose working lives were spent abroad. This results in some imbalance between the sections which is understandable, I hope, and at this remove of time, not really capable of rectification.
The production of photographs of the right size and quality has been difficult and I am sorry that some are not as clear as I would like. However, I felt it better to include them rather than not.
In addition to the individual pieces on each of the fifteen, I have taken the opportunity to include in two additional sections some background information culled from various sources, the first about Keabog itself and the Gray connection with it, and the second relating to certain aspects of the life at Keabog applicable to all the Keabog Grays, both of which I hope will be found useful. I have also put in as Appendices some other details which are relevant and which I trust will be of interest.
I should further add that like all families, the Keabog Grays were not immune to rows and squabbles, some of which have come down in memory. I have not seen fit to refer to any of these but as a result, the record probably errs on the favourable side, as indeed do most obituaries.
I do need to make one large caveat about the project. Even if I had begun as soon as Isabel suggested it, the compilation is some 25 years too late. Except for Ada and Ronald, the Keabog Grays had all died by 1971, and the memories of their surviving offspring have naturally faded. Many questions ought to have been asked while they were still alive and indeed I feel much chagrin that I did not ask my Father more about his early life than I did; and other cousins I know, felt the same when they came to write their contributions.
However, I have had the benefit of one source which has provided information without which the record would barely have been worth the doing. I refer to my Aunt Dot, the widow of Douglas, who at 97 has a memory that would be outstanding at any age. I cannot thank her sufficiently for the help she has been.
At the end of each of the individual sections I have acknowledged the authorship but I must thank collectively those cousins who have written about their Gray parent, and in some cases provided anecdotes about others of the Keabog Grays.
I must also acknowledge the willing assistance I have received from the several people and authorities I have consulted in pursuance of the background information. I am particularly grateful for the generous help given me by the following individuals: Mr John Fraser M.A., Rector of Mackie Academy, Stonehaven; George A Allen M.A., Headmaster of Robert Gordon's College, Aberdeen; Mrs P J Angus of Grampian Regional Council's Archives; Mr Colin A McLaren, Archivist, University of Aberdeen; Mr John Slater, Editorial Consultant, Railway Magazine; and Mr W J Glass, of Keabog itself. I have also to thank the British Library (Newspaper Library), the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and the Arts and Recreation Division of the City of Aberdeen, especially for the maps they provided of Keabog, extracts of three of which are included herein.
Finally my thanks are due to Miss Penny Lewis MBE, an ex-colleague of mine, not only for her efficient typing but for her helpful suggestions.
Ian Gray, London, April 1994