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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2014

Origins Available: French, Scottish

Where did the Scottish Ray family come from? What is the Scottish Ray family crest and coat of arms? When did the Ray family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Ray family history?

The saga of the name Ray begins with a Strathclyde-Briton family in the ancient Scottish/English Borderlands. It is a name for a person known as a timid or shy person. Further research revealed that the name is derived from the Old English word ray, that referred to a roe or female deer.


Spelling and translation were hardly exact sciences in Medieval Scotland. Sound, rather than any set of rules, was the basis for spellings, so one name was often spelled different ways even within a single document. Spelling variations are thus an extremely common occurrence in Medieval Scottish names. Ray has been spelled Rae, Rea, Ree, Ray and others.

First found in Dumfriesshire (Gaelic: Siorrachd Dhn Phris), a Southern area, bordering on England that today forms part of the Dumfries and Galloway Council Area, where they held a family seat from early times and their first records appeared on the early census rolls taken by the early Kings of Scotland to determine the rate of taxation of their subjects.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Ray research. Another 175 words(12 lines of text) covering the years 1350, 1376, 1612, 1627, and 1705 are included under the topic Early Ray History in all our PDF Extended History products.


Another 41 words(3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Ray Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


Some of the Ray family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 274 words(20 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.


Such hard times forced many to leave their homeland in search of opportunity across the Atlantic. Many of these families settled along the east coast of North America in communities that would become the backbones of the young nations of the United States and Canada. The ancestors of many of these families have rediscovered their roots in the 20th century through the establishment of Clan societies and other patriotic Scottish organizations. Among them:

Ray Settlers in the United States in the 17th Century

  • Simon Ray settled in Massachusetts in 1620
  • Simon Ray, who settled in Massachusetts in 1620
  • Abram Ray, who settled in Barbados in 1635
  • Samuel Ray, who arrived in Salem, Massachusetts in 1637
  • Benj Ray, who arrived in Virginia in 1638

Ray Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century

  • Sarah Ray, who landed in Virginia in 1702
  • Isaac Ray, who landed in New England in 1720
  • Daniel Ray, who came to Virginia in 1731
  • Joseph Ray, who arrived in Virginia in 1740
  • Michel Ray, who settled in Boston in 1764

Ray Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century

  • Mary Ray, aged 24, landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1805
  • Thomas W Ray, who arrived in New York, NY in 1811
  • Hugh Ray, who arrived in New York, NY in 1811
  • Daniel Ray, aged 50, arrived in North Carolina in 1812
  • Duncan Ray, aged 47, arrived in North Carolina in 1813


  • Man Emmanuel Rabinovich Ray (1890-1976), American painter
  • First Lieutenant Bernard J Ray, American officer awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in 1944
  • Marguerite "Dixy Lee" Ray (1914-1994), American politician, the 17th Governor of the U.S. State of Washington
  • Gene Anthony Ray (1962-2003), American actor, dancer, and choreographer, best known for his work on the Fame movie and television series
  • Jimmy Ray Jr. (b. 1969), birth name of Roman Artiste, an American film and television actor, screenwriter, film director
  • John Ray (1627-1705), English naturalist
  • Edward R. G. "Ted" Ray (1877-1943), British professional golfer
  • David Robert "Bobby" Ray (1945-1969), United States Navy sailor, recipient of the Medal of Honor
  • Gabrielle Ray (1883-1973), English stage actress
  • Robert "Rayzor" John Ray (b. 1968), Canadian sports broadcaster, former professional NHL ice hockey player, recipient of the King Clancy Memorial Trophy



  • Bound For the Promised Land: History of the Ray and Armstrong Families by Joan Cervenka Cob.
  • The Wests and the Rays and Allied Lines: Southern Families from the Colonies to Texas by Nan Overton West.

The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: In omnia promptus
Motto Translation: Ready for everything.


  1. Chadwick, Nora Kershaw and J.X.W.P Corcoran. The Celts. London: Penguin, 1970. Print. (ISBN 0140212116).
  2. Prebble, John. The Highland Clearances. London: Secker & Warburg, 1963. Print.
  3. Bell, Robert. The Book of Ulster Surnames. Belfast: Blackstaff, 1988. Print. (ISBN 10-0856404160).
  4. Hanks, Patricia and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Print. (ISBN 0-19-211592-8).
  5. Bain, Robert. The Clans and Tartans of Scotland. Glasgow & London: Collins, 1968. Print. (ISBN 000411117-6).
  6. Fulton, Alexander. Scotland and Her Tartans: The Romantic Heritage of the Scottish Clans and Families. Godalming: Bramley, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-86283-880-0).
  7. Bolton, Charles Knowles. Bolton's American Armory. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1964. Print.
  8. Filby, P. William and Mary K Meyer. Passenger and Immigration Lists Index in Four Volumes. Detroit: Gale Research, 1985. Print. (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8).
  9. Matthews, John. Matthews' American Armoury and Blue Book. London: John Matthews, 1911. Print.
  10. Burke, John Bernard Ed. The Roll of Battle Abbey. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  11. ...

The Ray Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Ray Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 7 September 2014 at 20:11.

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