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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2016


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.

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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." [1] "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." [2]

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.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Bray research. Another 569 words (41 lines of text) covering the years 1066, 1260, 1500, 1700, 1440, 1503, 1656, 1730, 1790, 1883, 1794 and 1868 are included under the topic Early Bray History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 67 words (5 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Bray Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Some of the Bray family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 123 words (9 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.

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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
  • John Bray settled in Maine in 1630
  • Nich Bray, who landed in Virginia in 1651
  • Henry and Nicholas Bray settled in Virginia in 1652


Bray Settlers in United States in the 18th Century


  • Frances Bray, who arrived in Virginia in 1714
  • Jno Bray, who arrived in Virginia in 1714
  • Robert Bray settled in Maryland in 1775

Bray Settlers in United States in the 19th Century


  • John Bray, who landed in America in 1805
  • Martin Bray, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1844
  • Frederic Bray, aged 25, arrived in New York in 1849
  • Dan Bray, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1851
  • James Bray, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1854


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

Bray Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century


  • Thomas Bray settled in Harbour Grace in 1808
  • John Bray was in St. John's in 1810
  • Thomas Bray, from county Kilkenny, was married in St. John's in 1833

Bray Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century


  • John Bray arrived in Kangaroo Island aboard the ship "Hartley" in 1837
  • Thomas Bray arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Prince George" in 1838
  • Samuel Bray arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Buckinghamshire" in 1839
  • Samuel Bray arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "D'Auvergne" in 1839
  • Maria Bray arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "D'Auvergne" in 1839


Bray Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century


  • J Bray landed in Auckland, New Zealand in 1843
  • W Bray landed in Auckland, New Zealand in 1843
  • Gertrude Cobham Herring Bray, aged 30, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Theresa" in 1844
  • Anthony Bray arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Baltasara" in 1854
  • John Bray arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Baltasara" in 1854


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  • 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-)
  • Mr. Clarence Bray, British Petty Officer, who sailed into battle on the HMS Repulse and survived the sinking
  • Mr. William George Bray, British Yeoman of Signals, who sailed in to battle on the HMS Prince of Wales and survived the sinking
  • Mr. Stewart Bray, British Ordinary Seaman, who sailed in to battle on the HMS Prince of Wales and survived the sinking
  • Mr. William Edward Bray (d. 1914), "Willie" British Kitchen Porter from United Kingdom who worked aboard the Empress of Ireland and died in the sinking on May 29th 1914

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  • Bray Family History by Raymond Gary Taylor.
  • John Proctor of Ipswich and Some of His Descendants (including the Bray Family) by Leland H. Proctor.
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  1. ^ Shirley, Evelyn Philip, The Noble and Gentle Men of England; The Arms and Descents. Westminster: John Bower Nichols and Sons, 1866, Print.
  2. ^ Lowe, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.

Other References

  1. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  2. Elster, Robert J. International Who's Who. London: Europa/Routledge. Print.
  3. Sanders, Joanne McRee Edition. English Settlers in Barbados 1637-1800. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  4. Bardsley, C.W. A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6).
  5. Matthews, John. Matthews' American Armoury and Blue Book. London: John Matthews, 1911. Print.
  6. Hanks, Patricia and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Print. (ISBN 0-19-211592-8).
  7. Foster, Joseph. Dictionary of Heraldry Feudal Coats of Arms and Pedigrees. London: Bracken Books, 1989. Print. (ISBN 1-85170-309-8).
  8. Burke, Sir Bernard. Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Peerage and Baronetage, The Privy Council, Knightage and Compainonage. London: Burke Publishing, 1921. Print.
  9. Papworth, J.W and A.W Morant. Ordinary of British Armorials. London: T.Richards, 1874. Print.
  10. Bowman, George Ernest. The Mayflower Reader A Selection of Articales from The Mayflower Descendent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  11. ...

The Bray Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Bray 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 11 May 2016 at 02:08.

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