Peter Wagener Grayson was born in 1788 in Bardstown, Virginia (later part of Kentucky) to Benjamin and Caroline (Taylor) Grayson, members of a politically prominent family. He served in the War of 1812 and worked in Louisville as an attorney, businessman and legislator. Well-spoken in legal matters and also a poet, he nevertheless amassed substantial debts and privately combated mental illness. In 1830, Grayson wrote to Stephen F. Austin about acquiring land in Texas, and by 1832 he had established a plantation near Matagorda. He also became a friend and advisor to Austin.
During Austin's imprisonment in Mexico City in 1834, Grayson and Spencer Jack went there with petitions in hopes of freeing the empresario. In December 1834, they secured Austin's bail, although he was not free to leave until the following summer. Settlers began preparations for revolution soon after Austin returned to Texas, and Grayson worked with him to outline an independent government. Grayson also served as president of the Council of War and aide-de-camp to both Austin and Gen. Edward Burleson. After Texas' victory at San Jacinto on April 21, 1836, Grayson acted as interpreter and Attorney General, signing the Treaties of Velasco on May 14, 1836.
Grayson went with others to Washington, D.C. to gain recognition of the Texas Republic and discuss annexation to the United States, but the efforts were unsuccessful. He served as Texas Attorney General and as naval agent, and was Sam Houston's candidate for the Texas presidency in 1838. On July 9 of that year, though, while traveling through Tennessee, Grayson took his life, leaving a note that has previous mental illness had returned. In 1846, following the eventful annexation of Texas to the United States, the Texas Legislature created Grayson County, naming it for the Texas patriot.