In 1855 Sir George Grey visited the Orange Free State while he was the governor of the Cape Colony. On 13 October 1855 he donated a sum of money towards the establishment of an institution for higher education. This money contributed largely to the capital investment in Grey College and on 17 January 1859 the school opened its doors for the first time, with Andrew Murray as the first headmaster.
Over the years Grey College and Bloemfontein grew and developed together under the leadership of headmasters Dr Johannes Brill, James Lyle, Jock Meiring, J.M.B. Faure, A.K. Volsteedt, J.L. Cronje, Dr M.G. Heyns and Johan Volsteedt. Deon Scheepers was appointed in 2013 as the headmaster of Grey College Secondary school.
The secondary and primary sections of the school were initially a unit but were separated in 1950. Headmasters C.C.F. Bornman, Steve Strydom and Chris Bester led Grey College Primary school in essential developments; Jurie Geldenhuys is the current principal of Grey College Primary school.
Grey College is one of the best-known schools in the country, and is proud of countless learners who have achieved success in all walks of life. These Old Greys are successful in South Africa as well as in other countries, and contribute to the excellent reputation that Grey College has established over the years.
Loyalty to Grey traditions is a hallmark of the Grey boys; the traditions and image of Grey College unite the learners and establish a strong brotherhood.
Old school buildings have been restored and some have been replaced. These changes were essential in order to adapt the appearance of the school to a more modern environment without harming the rich Grey traditions.