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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright © 2000 - 2015

Origins Available: Belgium, English, French

Where did the English Gay family come from? What is the English Gay family crest and coat of arms? When did the Gay family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Gay family history?

The name Gay came to England with the ancestors of the Gay family in the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Gay family lived in Oxfordshire. Their name, however, derives from their place of residence prior to the Norman Conquest of England in 1066, Gaye le Manche, France.

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Multitudes of spelling variations are a hallmark of Anglo Norman names. Most of these names evolved in the 11th and 12th century, in the time after the Normans introduced their own Norman French language into a country where Old and Middle English had no spelling rules and the languages of the court were French and Latin. To make matters worse, medieval scribes spelled words according to sound, so names frequently appeared differently in the various documents in which they were recorded. The name was spelled Gay, Gaye and others.

First found in Oxfordshire where they held a family seat from very early times.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Gay research. Another 361 words(26 lines of text) covering the years 1066, 1086, 1176, 1191, 1191, 1203, 1420, 1452, 1685, 1732, 1685, 1732 and 1728 are included under the topic Early Gay History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 49 words(4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Gay Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Because of this political and religious unrest within English society, many people decided to immigrate to the colonies. Families left for Ireland, North America, and Australia in enormous numbers, traveling at high cost in extremely inhospitable conditions. The New World in particular was a desirable destination, but the long voyage caused many to arrive sick and starving. Those who made it, though, were welcomed by opportunities far greater than they had known at home in England. Many of these families went on to make important contributions to the emerging nations of Canada and the United States. Analysis of immigration records indicates that some of the first North American immigrants bore the name Gay or a variant listed above:

Gay Settlers in United States in the 17th Century


  • Thomas Gay, who landed in Virginia in 1622
  • James Gay who settled in Virginia in 1623
  • James Gay, who arrived in Virginia in 1623
  • William Gay settled in Virginia in 1630
  • Wm Gay, aged 20, arrived in Virginia in 1635


Gay Settlers in United States in the 18th Century


  • Pierre Gay, aged 20, landed in Louisiana in 1719
  • Anne Gay settled in Maryland in 1723
  • Saml Gay, who landed in Virginia in 1740
  • Jacob Gay, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1765
  • William Gay, who landed in Virginia in 1772


Gay Settlers in United States in the 19th Century


  • I Gay, aged 34, landed in New Orleans, La in 1830
  • Francis Gay, who landed in Mobile County, Ala in 1840
  • A W Gay, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1849
  • J Gay, who arrived in San Francisco, California in 1850
  • Joe Gay, who arrived in Texas in 1850


Gay Settlers in Canada in the 17th Century


  • Francois Gay, aged 22, landed in Quebec in 1671

Gay Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century


  • Samuel Gay, who arrived in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1778
  • Mr. Edward Gay U.E. who settled in Eastern District [Cornwall], Ontario c. 1784
  • Mr. Samuel Gay U.E. born in Massachusetts, USA who settled in Westmoreland County, New Brunswick c. 1784 he was Chief Justice of Court Common Pleas

Gay Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century


  • John H Gay, who landed in Esquimalt, British Columbia in 1862

Gay Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century


  • Thomas Gay arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Recovery" in 1839
  • Jane Gay arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Forfarshire" in 1848
  • Catherine Gay arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Navarino" in 1848
  • Isaac Gay, aged 33, a farm labourer, arrived in South Australia in 1851 aboard the ship "Marion"
  • John Gay, aged 22, a painter, arrived in South Australia in 1852 aboard the ship "Omega"


Gay Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century


  • John Gay landed in Nelson, New Zealand in 1844 aboard the ship Fifeshire
  • Major Gay arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Nimroud" in 1860
  • George Gay, aged 20, a gardener, arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Berar" in 1873

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  • Peter Gay (1923-2015), born Peter Joachim Fröhlich, an American educator and writer, Sterling Professor of History Emeritus at Yale University
  • Tyson Gay (b. 1982), American nine-time gold medalist track and field sprinter
  • Rudy Carlton Gay Jr. (b. 1986), American NBA professional basketball player
  • Randall "Blue" Jerome Gay Jr. (b. 1982), retired American NFL football cornerback
  • Joseph Brian Gay (b. 1971), American PGA professional golfer
  • Lieutenant General Hobart Raymond Gay (1894-1983), American general awarded the Distinguished Service Cross
  • Rev. Marvin Pentz Gay Sr., American fundamentalist minister
  • Noel Gay (1898-1954), born Reginald Moxon Armitage, English composer of popular music in the 1930s and 1940s
  • George Kirby Gay (1810-1882), English sailor and settler in the Oregon Country, member of the Willamette Cattle Company that brought livestock to Oregon
  • Major David William Maurice Gay MC (1920-2010), British Army officer, English cricketer

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  • John Gay of Wiltshire, England and the Town of Elba, Dodge County, Wisconsin and Some of His Descendants in America by Grace Gay Sponem.
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  1. Bardsley, C.W. A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6).
  2. Sanders, Joanne McRee Edition. English Settlers in Barbados 1637-1800. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  3. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  4. Lennard, Reginald. Rural England 1086-1135 A Study of Social and Agrarian Conditions. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1959. Print.
  5. Papworth, J.W and A.W Morant. Ordinary of British Armorials. London: T.Richards, 1874. Print.
  6. Chadwick, Nora Kershaw and J.X.W.P Corcoran. The Celts. London: Penguin, 1790. Print. (ISBN 0140212116).
  7. Robb H. Amanda and Andrew Chesler. Encyclopedia of American Family Names. New York: Haper Collins, 1995. Print. (ISBN 0-06-270075-8).
  8. Shirley, Evelyn Philip. Noble and Gentle Men of England Or Notes Touching The Arms and Descendants of the Ancient Knightley and Gentle Houses of England Arranged in their Respective Counties 3rd Edition. Westminster: John Bowyer Nichols and Sons, 1866. Print.
  9. Hitching, F.K and S. Hitching. References to English Surnames in 1601-1602. Walton On Thames: 1910. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0181-3).
  10. Marcharn, Frederick George. A Constitutional History of Modern England 1485 to the Present. London: Harper and Brothers, 1960. Print.
  11. ...

The Gay Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Gay 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 13 May 2015 at 13:54.

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