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

Origins Available: Belgium, English, French

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

The name Gay came to England with the ancestors of the Gay family in the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Gay family lived in Oxfordshire. Their name, however, derives from their place of residence prior to the Norman Conquest of England in 1066, Gaye le Manche, France.


Multitudes of spelling variations are a hallmark of Anglo Norman names. Most of these names evolved in the 11th and 12th century, in the time after the Normans introduced their own Norman French language into a country where Old and Middle English had no spelling rules and the languages of the court were French and Latin. To make matters worse, medieval scribes spelled words according to sound, so names frequently appeared differently in the various documents in which they were recorded. The name was spelled Gay, Gaye and others.

First found in Oxfordshire where they held a family seat from very early times.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Gay research. Another 361 words(26 lines of text) covering the years 1066, 1086, 1176, 1191, 1191, 1203, 1420, 1452, 1685, 1732, 1685, 1732 and 1728 are included under the topic Early Gay History in all our PDF Extended History products.


Another 49 words(4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Gay Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


Because of this political and religious unrest within English society, many people decided to immigrate to the colonies. Families left for Ireland, North America, and Australia in enormous numbers, traveling at high cost in extremely inhospitable conditions. The New World in particular was a desirable destination, but the long voyage caused many to arrive sick and starving. Those who made it, though, were welcomed by opportunities far greater than they had known at home in England. Many of these families went on to make important contributions to the emerging nations of Canada and the United States. Analysis of immigration records indicates that some of the first North American immigrants bore the name Gay or a variant listed above:

Gay Settlers in the United States in the 17th Century

  • Thomas Gay, who landed in Virginia in 1622
  • James Gay who settled in Virginia in 1623
  • James Gay, who arrived in Virginia in 1623
  • William Gay settled in Virginia in 1630
  • Wm Gay, aged 20, arrived in Virginia in 1635

Gay Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century

  • Pierre Gay, aged 20, landed in Louisiana in 1719
  • Anne Gay settled in Maryland in 1723
  • Saml Gay, who landed in Virginia in 1740
  • Jacob Gay, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1765
  • William Gay, who landed in Virginia in 1772

Gay Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century

  • I Gay, aged 34, landed in New Orleans, La in 1830
  • Francis Gay, who landed in Mobile County, Ala in 1840
  • A W Gay, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1849
  • J Gay, who arrived in San Francisco, California in 1850
  • Joe Gay, who arrived in Texas in 1850


  • Lieutenant General Hobart Raymond Gay (1894-1983), American general awarded the Distinguished Service Cross
  • Peter Gay, American educator and writer
  • Rev. Marvin Pentz Gay Sr., American fundamentalist minister
  • Joseph Brian Gay (b. 1971), American PGA professional golfer
  • Randall "Blue" Jerome Gay Jr. (b. 1982), retired American NFL football cornerback
  • Rudy Carlton Gay Jr. (b. 1986), American NBA professional basketball player
  • Tyson Gay (b. 1982), American nine-time gold medalist track and field sprinter
  • Geoffrey Gay, English industrialist
  • Major David William Maurice Gay MC (1920-2010), British Army officer, English cricketer
  • George Kirby Gay (1810-1882), English sailor and settler in the Oregon Country, member of the Willamette Cattle Company that brought livestock to Oregon



  • John Gay of Wiltshire, England and the Town of Elba, Dodge County, Wisconsin and Some of His Descendants in America by Grace Gay Sponem.

  1. Burke, Sir Bernard. General Armory Of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Ramsbury: Heraldry Today. Print.
  2. Burke, John Bernard Ed. The Roll of Battle Abbey. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  3. Weis, Frederick Lewis, Walter Lee Sheppard and David Faris. Ancestral Roots of Sixty Colonists Who Came to New England Between 1623 and 1650 7th Edition. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0806313676).
  4. Burke, Sir Bernard. Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Peerage and Baronetage, The Privy Council, Knightage and Compainonage. London: Burke Publishing, 1921. Print.
  5. Sanders, Joanne McRee Edition. English Settlers in Barbados 1637-1800. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  6. Hanks, Patricia and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Print. (ISBN 0-19-211592-8).
  7. 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.
  8. Foster, Joseph. Dictionary of Heraldry Feudal Coats of Arms and Pedigrees. London: Bracken Books, 1989. Print. (ISBN 1-85170-309-8).
  9. Library of Congress. American and English Genealogies in the Library of Congress. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1967. Print.
  10. Magnusson, Magnus. Chambers Biographical Dictionary 5th edition. Edinburgh: W & R Chambers, 1990. Print.
  11. ...

The Gay Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Gay 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 31 August 2014 at 12:13.

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