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

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

A Strathclyde-Briton family from the Scottish/English Borderlands was the first to use the surname Reay. 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.

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The origin of rules governing the spelling of names and even words is a very recent innovation. Before that, words and names were spelled according to sound, and, therefore, often appeared under several different spelling variations in a single document. Reay 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.


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

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

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Some of the Reay 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.

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The persecution faced in their homeland left many Scots with little to do but sail for the colonies of North America. There they found land, freedom, opportunity, and nations in the making. They fought for their freedom in the American War of Independence, or traveled north to Canada as United Empire Loyalists. In both cases, they made enormous contributions to the formation of those great nations. Among them:

Reay Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century


  • Jane Reay, who landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1746

Reay Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century


  • Jamison Reay, aged 26, arrived in Mobile, Ala in 1849
  • Alexander Reay, aged 18, arrived in New York in 1862
  • George Reay, aged 53, landed in New York in 1862
  • Margt Reay, aged 53, arrived in New York in 1862
  • Mary Reay, aged 19, landed in New York in 1862


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  • Donald P. Reay (1914-2002), American Professor of Architecture, Emeritus
  • Ryan Hunter Reay (b. 1980), American auto racer now racing for the Indy Racing League
  • Billy Reay (b. 1918), Canadian NHL hockey player and coach
  • Christopher Reay, New Zealand professional basketball player


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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.

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  1. Bell, Robert. The Book of Ulster Surnames. Belfast: Blackstaff, 1988. Print. (ISBN 10-0856404160).
  2. Holt, J.C. Ed. Domesday Studies. Woodbridge: Boydell, 1987. Print. (ISBN 0-85115-477-8).
  3. Skordas, Guest. Ed. The Early Settlers of Maryland an Index to Names or Immigrants Complied from Records of Land Patents 1633-1680 in the Hall of Records Annapolis, Maryland. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1968. Print.
  4. Burke, John Bernard Ed. The Roll of Battle Abbey. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  5. Skene, William Forbes Edition. Chronicles of the Picts, Chronicles of the Scots and Other Early Memorials of Scottish History. Edinburgh: H.M. General Register House, 1867. Print.
  6. Catholic Directory For Scotland. Glasgow: Burns Publications. Print.
  7. Moncrieffe, Sir Ian of That Ilk and Don Pottinger. Clan Map Scotland of Old. Edinburgh: Bartholomew and Son, 1983. Print.
  8. Donaldson, Gordon and Robert S. Morpeth. Who's Who In Scotish History. Wales: Welsh Academic Press, 1996. Print. (ISBN 186057-0054).
  9. Prebble, John. The Highland Clearances. London: Secker & Warburg, 1963. Print.
  10. Paul, Sir James Balfour. An Ordinary of Arms Contained in the Public Register of All Arms and Bearings in Scotland Second Edition. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1903. Print.
  11. ...

The Reay Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Reay 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 4 November 2010 at 13:56.

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