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]

"William de Braye was one of the subscribing witnesses to the charter of Battle Abbey in 1088; but does not appear in Domesday. His name was derived from Bray, near Evreux. "Milo de Brai, father of Hugh Trussel, married, c. 1070, Litheuil, Viscountess of Troyes, and c. 1064, founded Longport Abbey, Normandy (Ordaric Vitalis). Milo de Brai, his son, was a crusader 1096 (Idem). In 1148 Richard de Braio held lands at Winchester from the Bishop (Winton Domesday). The De Brais possessed estates in Cambridge and Bedford 1165 [5]. A branch was seated in Devon in the thirteenth century." [1]

"In Bedfordshire we find Eaton Bray, in the hundred of Manshead, a village about four miles from Dunstaple. 'The family of Bray were of consequence in the county,' says Lysons, 'at an early period. Thomas de Bray was knight of the shire in 1289, and Roger de Bray in 1312. When they settled at Eaton-Bray, to which they gave their name, does not appear; but it was long before they were possessed of the manor. Edmund Bray, grandfather of Sir Reginald, the faithful minister of King Henry VII., was described as of this place, and it appears on record, that the parish was called Eaton-Bray in the reign of Edward III. It is probable that the Brays held the manor under the Barons Cantilupe and Zouche. " [6]

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. " [7]

"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.

Bray World Ranking

In the United States, the name Bray is the 819th most popular surname with an estimated 37,305 people with that name. [8] However, in France, the name Bray is ranked the 1,406th most popular surname with an estimated 4,077 people with that name. [9] And in Australia, the name Bray is the 452nd popular surname with an estimated 8,354 people with that name. [10] New Zealand ranks Bray as 586th with 1,220 people. [11] The United Kingdom ranks Bray as 503rd with 12,884 people. [12]

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 [13]
  • John Bray, who settled in Maine in 1630
  • Nich Bray, who landed in Virginia in 1651 [13]
  • 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 [13]
  • John Bray, who arrived in Virginia in 1714 [13]
  • 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 [13]
  • Mr. Thomas Bray, (b. 1804), aged 32, Cornish malster departing from Falmouth aboard the ship "Royal Adelaide" arriving in the United States on 11th May 1836 [14]
  • Mr. Phillip Bray, (b. 1806), aged 30, Cornish settler departing from Falmouth aboard the ship "Royal Adelaide" arriving in the United States on 11th May 1836 [14]
  • Miss Elisa Bray, (b. 1826), aged 10, Cornish settler departing from Falmouth aboard the ship "Royal Adelaide" arriving in the United States on 11th May 1836 [14]
  • Mr. John Bray, (b. 1830), aged 6, Cornish settler departing from Falmouth aboard the ship "Royal Adelaide" arriving in the United States on 11th May 1836 [14]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Bray Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • Mrs. Susan J. Bray, (b. 1872), aged 28, Cornish cook travelling aboard the ship "St Louis" arriving at Ellis Island, New York on 8th April 1900 en route to Turners Falls, Massachusetts, USA [15]
  • Mr. Herbert Bray, (b. 1882), aged 20, Cornish blacksmith travelling aboard the ship "Campania" arriving at Ellis Island, New York on 4th October 1902 en route to Butte, Montana, USA [15]
  • Mr. Robert V. Bray, (b. 1851), aged 52, American miner travelling aboard the ship "Philadelphia" arriving at Ellis Island, New York on 11th July 1903 en route to Ohio, USA [15]
  • Mrs. Eliza J. Bray, (b. 1858), aged 45, American returning, from Cornwall, UK travelling aboard the ship "Philadelphia" arriving at Ellis Island, New York on 11th July 1903 en route to Ohio, USA [15]
  • Mr. Charles Bray, (b. 18 77), aged 26, Cornish iron manager travelling aboard the ship "Philadelphia"arriving at Ellis Island, New York on 10th October 1903 en route to the United States [15]
  • ... (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

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, British convict who was convicted in London, England for 7 years, transported aboard the "Calcutta" in February 1803, arriving in New South Wales, Australia, the settlement was listed as abandoned and most of the convicts transported to Tasmania on the "Queen" in 1804 [17]
  • Mr. William Bray, British Convict who was convicted in Surrey, England for life, transported aboard the "Coromandel" on 27th October 1819, arriving in Tasmania ( Van Diemen's Land) [18]
  • Mr. Patrick Bray, (b. 1803), aged 19, Irish errand boy who was convicted in Dublin, Ireland for 7 years, transported aboard the "Countess of Harcourt" on 3rd September 1822, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [19]
  • 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 [20]
  • 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 [21]
  • ... (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.)

West Indies Bray migration to West Indies +

The British first settled the British West Indies around 1604. They made many attempts but failed in some to establish settlements on the Islands including Saint Lucia and Grenada. By 1627 they had managed to establish settlements on St. Kitts (St. Christopher) and Barbados, but by 1641 the Spanish had moved in and destroyed some of these including those at Providence Island. The British continued to expand the settlements including setting the First Federation in the British West Indies by 1674; some of the islands include Barbados, Bermuda, Cayman Island, Turks and Caicos, Jamaica and Belize then known as British Honduras. By the 1960's many of the islands became independent after the West Indies Federation which existed from 1958 to 1962 failed due to internal political conflicts. After this a number of Eastern Caribbean islands formed a free association. [22]
Bray Settlers in West Indies in the 17th Century
  • John Bray, who settled in Barbados in 1685

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 [23]
  • 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 [23]
  • Charles Bray (1811-1884), English author of various works on philosophy and education, born in Coventry on 31 Jan. 1811 [23]
  • Anna Eliza Bray (1790-1883), English novelist, daughter of John Kempe, bullion porter in the Mint [23]
  • ... (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 [24]
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 [25]
  • Mr. Stewart Bray, British Ordinary Seaman, who sailed into battle on the HMS Prince of Wales and survived the sinking [25]
HMS Repulse
  • Mr. Clarence Bray, British Petty Officer, who sailed into battle on the HMS Repulse and survived the sinking [26]
SS Southern Cross
  • Mr. James Bray (1891-1914), Newfoundlander from Harbour Grace who was aboard the "SS Southern Cross" when it is suspected she sank between the 31st March 1914 and early April during the storm with a heavy load of pelts; no survivors were ever found
  • Mr. Herbert Bray (1894-1914), Newfoundlander from Harbour Grace who was aboard the "SS Southern Cross" when it is suspected she sank between the 31st March 1914 and early April during the storm with a heavy load of pelts; no survivors were ever found


Suggested Readings for the name Bray +

  • 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. ^ Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  5. ^ Liber Niger Scutarii ("Black Book of the Exchequer"), containing reports by county on feudal holdings in England in 1166 (reign of Henry II)
  6. ^ Cleveland, Dutchess of The Battle Abbey Roll with some Account of the Norman Lineages. London: John Murray, Abermarle Street, 1889. Print. Volume 1 of 3
  7. ^ Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
  8. ^ https://namecensus.com/most_common_surnames.htm
  9. ^ http://www.journaldesfemmes.com/nom-de-famille/nom/
  10. ^ https://forebears.io/australia/surnames
  11. ^ https://forebears.io/new-zealand/surnames
  12. ^ https://www.surnamemap.eu/unitedkingdom/surnames_ranking.php?p=10
  13. ^ 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)
  14. ^ Cornwall Online Parish Clerks. (Retrieved 2018, April 30). Emigrants to New York 1820 - 1891 [PDF]. Retrieved from http://www.opc-cornwall.org/Resc/pdfs/emigration_new_york_1820_1891.pdf
  15. ^ Cornwall Online Parish Clerks. (Retreived 3rd May 2018). Retrieved from http://www.opc-cornwall.org/Resc/pdfs/emigration_ellis_island_1892_on.pdf
  16. ^ Seary E.R., Family Names of the Island of Newfoundland, Montreal: McGill's-Queen's Universtity Press 1998 ISBN 0-7735-1782-0
  17. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 25th November 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/calcutta
  18. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 12th March 2021). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/coromandel
  19. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 24th March 2021). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/countess-of-harcourt
  20. ^ Cornwall Online Parish Clerks. (Retrieved 30th May 2018). Retrieved from http://www.opc-cornwall.org/Resc/pdfs/emigration_australia_convicts.pdf
  21. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 5th November 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/burrell
  22. ^ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_West_Indies
  23. ^ Wikisource contributors. "Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900." Wikisource . Wikisource , 4 Jun. 2018. Web. 5 Feb. 2019
  24. ^ Commemoration Empress of Ireland 2014. (Retrieved 2014, June 17) . Retrieved from http://www.empress2014.ca/seclangen/listepsc1.html
  25. ^ HMS Prince of Wales Crew members. (Retrieved 2014, April 9) . Retrieved from http://www.forcez-survivors.org.uk/biographies/listprincecrew.html
  26. ^ HMS Repulse Crew members. (Retrieved 2014, April 9) . Retrieved from http://www.forcez-survivors.org.uk/biographies/listrepulsecrew.html


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