Bray History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Bray is a name that was carried to England in the great wave of migration from Normandy following the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Bray family lived in Berkshire where the local Brai is listed in the Domesday Book. Originally, the name, is a reference to the town of Bray, near Evereux, Normandy, where the family lived prior to the Norman Conquest of 1066. [1]

"Brea, [in Land's End, Cornwall] which some have supposed to have been the original seat of the family of Brea or Bray, is now a farm house." [2]

Early Origins of the Bray family

The surname Bray was first found in Northamptonshire where Sir Robert Bray who lived about the period of Richard I is thought to be the progenitor. "His great-grandson, Thomas, was lord of Thgunby, in the same county in the ninth of Edward II." [3]

"This name occurs in all the copies of the co-called Roll of Battel Abbey, and that a great family so designated migrated from Normandy at the period of the Conquest seems certain. Three places in that province are still called Brai; two in the arrondissement of Falaise, and one in that of Bernal." [4]

John Bray ( fl. 1377), was an early English "physician and botanist [who] received a pension of 100s. a year from William, Earl of Salisbury, which was confirmed by Richard II. He wrote a list of herbs in Latin, French, and English, 'Synonyma de nominibus herbarum.' This manuscript was formerly part of the collection of F. Bernard; it is now in the Sloane Collection in the British Museum. " [5]

"The manor of Rescaddock or Roscraddock, [St. Cleer, Cornwall] belonged anciently to the family of Bray. Trenowth was the seat of the ancient family of Bray, some of whom continued to reside here so late as the reign of Elizabeth." [2]

Early History of the Bray family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Bray research. Another 285 words (20 lines of text) covering the years 1066, 1260, 1500, 1700, 1440, 1503, 1644, 1656, 1730, 1790, 1883, 1794, 1868 and are included under the topic Early Bray History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Bray Spelling Variations

Before English spelling was standardized a few hundred years ago, spelling variations of names were a common occurrence. Elements of Latin, Norman French and other languages became incorporated into English throughout the Middle Ages, and name spellings changed even among the literate. The variations of the surname Bray include Bray, Braye, Braie, Brey, Breye, Brae and others.

Early Notables of the Bray family (pre 1700)

Outstanding amongst the family at this time was Reginald Bray (c.1440-1503), English courtier, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster under Henry VII. He was the second son of Sir Richard Bray, one of the privy council to Henry VI. "The father was of Eaton-Bray in Bedfordshire, and lies buried in the north aisle of Worcester Cathedral. "...
Another 56 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Bray Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Bray family to Ireland

Some of the Bray family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 68 words (5 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Bray migration to the United States +

In England at this time, the uncertainty of the political and religious environment of the time caused many families to board ships for distant British colonies in the hopes of finding land and opportunity, and escaping persecution. The voyages were expensive, crowded, and difficult, though, and many arrived in North America sick, starved, and destitute. Those who did make it, however, were greeted with greater opportunities and freedoms that they could have experienced at home. Many of those families went on to make important contributions to the young nations in which they settled. Early immigration records have shown some of the first Brays to arrive on North American shores:

Bray Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Mistris Bray who settled in Virginia in 1622
  • Mrs. Bray, who arrived in Virginia in 1622 [6]
  • John Bray, who settled in Maine in 1630
  • Nich Bray, who landed in Virginia in 1651 [6]
  • Henry and Nicholas Bray, who settled in Virginia in 1652
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Bray Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Frances Bray, who arrived in Virginia in 1714 [6]
  • John Bray, who arrived in Virginia in 1714 [6]
  • Robert Bray, who settled in Maryland in 1775
Bray Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • John Bray, who landed in America in 1805 [6]
  • Martin Bray, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1844 [6]
  • Frederic Bray, aged 25, who arrived in New York in 1849 [6]
  • Dan Bray, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1851 [6]
  • James Bray, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1854 [6]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada Bray migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Bray Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • George Bray, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1749
  • Geo Bray, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1750
  • Geo Bray, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1750
Bray Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Thomas Bray, who settled in Harbour Grace in 1808
  • John Bray was in St. John's, Newfoundland in 1810 [7]
  • Thomas Bray, from County Kilkenny, Ireland was married in St. John's, Newfoundland in 1833 [7]

Australia Bray migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Bray Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Thomas Bray(b. 1794), aged 32, Cornish settler convicted in Cornwall, UK on 20th March 1826, sentenced for 14 years for housebreaking, transported aboard the ship "Midas" on 7th October 1826 to New South Wales, Australia [8]
  • Miss Sarah Bray who was convicted in Middlesex, England for 7 years, transported aboard the "Burrell" on 31st December 1831, arriving in New South Wales [9]
  • Mr. William Bray, British convict who was convicted in Hereford, England for 7 years, transported aboard the "Henry Tanner" on 27th June 1834, settling in New South Wales, Australia [10]
  • Mr. John Bray, English convict who was convicted in Yorkshire, England for life, transported aboard the "Aurora" on 18th June 1835, arriving in Tasmania ( Van Diemen's Land) [11]
  • Mr. William Stringer Bray, British Convict who was convicted in Lancaster, England for 7 years, transported aboard the "Asia" on 20th July 1837, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [12]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Bray migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Bray Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • J Bray, who landed in Auckland, New Zealand in 1843
  • W Bray, who landed in Auckland, New Zealand in 1843
  • Gertrude Cobham Herring Bray, aged 30, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Theresa" in 1844
  • Anthony Bray, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Baltasara" in 1854
  • John Bray, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Baltasara" in 1854
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Bray (post 1700) +

  • Lance Allen "Lane" Bray (1928-2015), American politician, Member of the Washington House of Representatives (1991-1995)
  • Curtis Bray (1970-2014), American college football coach and player, the first defensive player to win the Gatorade National High School Football Player of the Year Award
  • John Bray (1875-1945), American bronze medalist runner at the 1900 Summer Olympics
  • Stephen Bray (b. 1956), American songwriter, drummer, and record producer
  • Alan Bray (b. 1946), American painter
  • Robert Thomas Bray, American Adjutant General of the Rhode Island National Guard (2006-)
  • William Bray (1736-1832), English antiquary, the fourth and youngest son of Edward Bray of Shere in Surrey [13]
  • Edward Atkyns Bray (1778-1857), English poet and miscellaneous writer, born at the Abbey House, Tavistock, the only son of Edward Bray, solicitor, and manager of the Devonshire estates of the Duke of Bedford [13]
  • Charles Bray (1811-1884), English author of various works on philosophy and education, born in Coventry on 31 Jan. 1811 [13]
  • Anna Eliza Bray (1790-1883), English novelist, daughter of John Kempe, bullion porter in the Mint [13]
  • ... (Another 9 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Empress of Ireland
  • Mr. William Edward Bray, "Willie" British Kitchen Porter from United Kingdom who worked aboard the Empress of Ireland and died in the sinking [14]
HMS Prince of Wales
  • Mr. William George Bray, British Yeoman of Signals, who sailed into battle on the HMS Prince of Wales and survived the sinking [15]
  • Mr. Stewart Bray, British Ordinary Seaman, who sailed into battle on the HMS Prince of Wales and survived the sinking [15]
HMS Repulse
  • Mr. Clarence Bray, British Petty Officer, who sailed into battle on the HMS Repulse and survived the sinking [16]


Suggested Readings for the name Bray +

  • 947 "Bray Family History" by Raymond Gary Taylor, "John Proctor of Ipswich and Some of His Descendants (including the Bray Family)" by Leland H. Proctor.

  1. ^ The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X)
  2. ^ Hutchins, Fortescue, The History of Cornwall, from the Earliest Records and Traditions to the Present Time. London: William Penaluna, 1824. Print
  3. ^ Shirley, Evelyn Philip, The Noble and Gentle Men of England; The Arms and Descents. Westminster: John Bower Nichols and Sons, 1866, Print.
  4. ^ Lowe, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  5. ^ Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
  6. ^ Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  7. ^ Seary E.R., Family Names of the Island of Newfoundland, Montreal: McGill's-Queen's Universtity Press 1998 ISBN 0-7735-1782-0
  8. ^ Cornwall Online Parish Clerks. (Retrieved 30th May 2018). Retrieved from http://www.opc-cornwall.org/Resc/pdfs/emigration_australia_convicts.pdf
  9. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 5th November 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/burrell
  10. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 7th January 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/henry-tanner
  11. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 20th August 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/aurora
  12. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 7th February 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/asia/1837
  13. ^ Wikisource contributors. "Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900." Wikisource . Wikisource , 4 Jun. 2018. Web. 5 Feb. 2019
  14. ^ Commemoration Empress of Ireland 2014. (Retrieved 2014, June 17) . Retrieved from http://www.empress2014.ca/seclangen/listepsc1.html
  15. ^ HMS Prince of Wales Crew members. (Retrieved 2014, April 9) . Retrieved from http://www.forcez-survivors.org.uk/biographies/listprincecrew.html
  16. ^ HMS Repulse Crew members. (Retrieved 2014, April 9) . Retrieved from http://www.forcez-survivors.org.uk/biographies/listrepulsecrew.html


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