Bernay History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms
The name Bernay was carried to England in the enormous movement of people that followed the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Bernay family lived in Norfolk, where they were established since the early Middle Ages. The family's name, however, derives from their former place of residence, the town of Bernai, in the department of Eure, Normandy. The popularity of this given name among Normans in the centuries immediately following the Norman Conquest of 1066 was greatly increased by virtue of its having been borne by St. Bernard of Clairvaux (c.1090-1153) founder and abbott of a monastery at Clairvaux.
Early Origins of the Bernay family
The surname Bernay was first found in Norfolk, where they claim descent from Berney, in the hundred of North Greenhow. The local has been lost through the years, but the family held a family seat at Park Hall in the parish of Reedham. "The baronet's family are asserted to have been at Berney, near Walsingham, co, Norfolk at the time of the Norman Conquest a great improbability, although their very early settlement there cannot be questioned."  What we have confirmed is the family seat was "acquired by the marriage of Sir Thomas de Berney with Margaret, daughter and heir of Sir William de Reedham in the reign of Edward III. " 
Important Dates for the Bernay family
This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Bernay research. Another 78 words (6 lines of text) covering the years 1620, 1622, 1668, 1622, 1693, 1706, 1688 and 1710 are included under the topic Early Bernay History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Bernay Spelling Variations
Endless spelling variations are a prevailing characteristic of Norman surnames. Old and Middle English lacked any definite spelling rules, and the introduction of Norman French added an unfamiliar ingredient to the English linguistic stew. French and Latin, the languages of the court, also influenced spellings. Finally, Medieval scribes generally spelled words according to how they sounded, so one person was often referred to by different spellings in different documents. The name has been spelled Berney, Berny, Bernay, Bernays, Bernys, Burney and others.
Early Notables of the Bernay family (pre 1700)
Another 48 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Bernay Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Migration of the Bernay family to Ireland
Some of the Bernay family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. More information about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Migration of the Bernay family
To escape the political and religious persecution within England at the time, many English families left for the various British colonies abroad. The voyage was extremely difficult, though, and the cramped, dank ships caused many to arrive in the New World diseased and starving. But for those who made it, the trip was most often worth it. Many of the families who arrived went on to make valuable contributions to the emerging nations of Canada and the United States. An inquiry into the early roots of North American families reveals a number of immigrants bearing the name Bernay or a variant listed above: Clough Berny who settled in Virginia in 1635; William Burney, and his wife settled with their three sons, his mother and father William, in Louisiana in 1797.
- ^ Lowe, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
- ^ Shirley, Evelyn Philip, The Noble and Gentle Men of England; The Arms and Descents. Westminster: John Bower Nichols and Sons, 1866, Print.