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An excerpt from archives copyright 2000 - 2016

The illustrious surname Embrey finds its origin in the rocky, sea swept coastal area of southwestern England known as Cornwall. Although surnames were fairly widespread in medieval England, people were originally known only by a single name. The process by which hereditary surnames were adopted is extremely interesting. As populations grew, people began to assume an extra name to avoid confusion and to further identify themselves. Under the Feudal System of government, surnames evolved and they often reflected life on the manor and in the field. Lords and their tenants often became known by the name of the feudal territory they owned or lived on. Unlike most Celtic peoples, who favored patronymic names, the Cornish predominantly used local surnames. This was due to the heavy political and cultural influence of the English upon the Cornish People at the time that surnames first came into use. Local surnames were derived from where a person lived, held land, or was born. While many Cornish surnames of this sort appear to be topographic surnames, which were given to people who resided near physical features such as hills, streams, churches, or types of trees, many are actually habitation surnames derived from lost or unrecorded place names. The name Embrey is a local type of surname and the Embrey family lived at the town of Embrough in Devon. The name is also classified as a baptismal name as in the son of Emery.


The surname Embrey was first found in Devon where they held a family seat from very early times.

Cornish surnames are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations. The frequent changes in surnames are due to the fact that the Old and Middle English languages lacked definite spelling rules. The official court languages, which were Latin and French, were also influential on the spelling of a surname. Since the spelling of surnames was rarely consistent in medieval times, and scribes and church officials recorded names as they sounded rather than adhering to any specific spelling rules, it was common to find the same individual referred to with different spellings of their surname in the ancient chronicles. Moreover, a large number of foreign names were brought into England, which accelerated and accentuated the alterations to the spelling of various surnames. Lastly, spelling variations often resulted from the linguistic differences between the people of Cornwall and the rest of England. The Cornish spoke a unique Brythonic Celtic language which was first recorded in written documents during the 10th century. However, they became increasingly Anglicized, and Cornish became extinct as a spoken language in 1777, although it has been revived by Cornish patriots in the modern era. The name has been spelled Embree, Embray, Embury, Embrey and others.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Embrey research. Another 161 words (12 lines of text) covering the years 1258, 1300, 1363, and 1379 are included under the topic Early Embrey History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


More information is included under the topic Early Embrey Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


An investigation of the immigration and passenger lists has revealed a number of people bearing the name Embrey:

Embrey Settlers in United States in the 20th Century

  • Agatha Embrey, aged 18, who arrived in America from Northwich, England, in 1909
  • Horace Embrey, aged 18, who arrived in America from Northwich, England, in 1912
  • Lottie Embrey, aged 27, who arrived in America from Barnton, England, in 1913
  • Percy Embrey, aged 17, who arrived in America from Halmerend, England, in 1913
  • Agatha Embrey, aged 22, who arrived in America from Barnton, England, in 1913
  • ...

  • James Lindsay Embrey Jr. (1925-2005), American real estate developer and philanthropist
  • Charles Akin "Slim" Embrey (1901-1947), American Major League Baseball pitcher who played for the Chicago White Sox in 1923

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    Other References

    1. Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds. Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8).
    2. Chadwick, Nora Kershaw and J.X.W.P Corcoran. The Celts. London: Penguin, 1790. Print. (ISBN 0140212116).
    3. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
    4. Shaw, William A. Knights of England A Complete Record from the Earliest Time to the Present Day of the Knights of all the Orders of Chivalry in England, Scotland, Ireland and Knights Bachelors 2 Volumes. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print. (ISBN 080630443X).
    5. Matthews, John. Matthews' American Armoury and Blue Book. London: John Matthews, 1911. Print.
    6. Magnusson, Magnus. Chambers Biographical Dictionary 5th edition. Edinburgh: W & R Chambers, 1990. Print.
    7. Foster, Joseph. Dictionary of Heraldry Feudal Coats of Arms and Pedigrees. London: Bracken Books, 1989. Print. (ISBN 1-85170-309-8).
    8. Lennard, Reginald. Rural England 1086-1135 A Study of Social and Agrarian Conditions. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1959. Print.
    9. Bardsley, C.W. A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6).
    10. Le Patourel, John. The Norman Empire. New York: Oxford University Press, 1976. Print. (ISBN 0-19-822525-3).
    11. ...

    The Embrey Family Crest was acquired from the archives. The Embrey 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 16 March 2016 at 19:13.

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