Membray History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms
Membray is a name of ancient Norman origin. It arrived in England with the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Membray family lived in Northumberland. The name, however, is a reference to the family's place of residence prior to the Norman Conquest of England in 1066, Montbrai, in La Manche, Normandy. 
However, another source claims the family claim descent from "the ancient barony of Mowbray, called by Odericus Vitalis Molbraium, [which] was identical with the village of Monbrai, in the canton or Perci, an arrondissement of St. Lo in Normandy." 
Early Origins of the Membray family
The surname Membray was first found in Northumberland where Geoffrey de Montbray (d. 1093,) Bishop of Coutances was a warrior, administrator and close assistant of William the Conqueror.
After the death of William, Geoffrey settled in Bristol, (as listed in the Domesday Book) where he built a strong castle but frequently feuded with William II." A strong castle was erected [at Thirsk in the North Riding of Yorkshire] about 979 by the family of Mowbray, where Roger de Mowbray in the time of Henry II., having become a confederate of the King of Scotland, erected his standard against his lawful sovereign: upon the suppression of the revolt, this fortress, with many others, was entirely demolished by order of the king." 
The same Roger de Mowbray also held Bambrough Castle in Northumberland. "After the Norman Conquest it was held by Robert de Mowbray, on whose insurrection against William Rufus it was besieged, and, after an obstinate defence, surrendered to that monarch, who threatened, unless it were given up, to put out the eyes of Mowbray, who had been taken prisoner." 
The markettown and parish of Kirby-Malzeard in the West Riding of Yorkshire was another ancient family seat. "This place was the property of the Mowbray family, afterwards dukes of Norfolk, whose castle here was demolished in the reign of Henry II., and one of whom, John de Mowbray, obtained for the inhabitants in the reign of Edward I. a charter for a weekly market and two annual fairs." 
"The Mowbrays used the mulBerry as their rebus. Thomas Duke of Norfolk, at his famous duel with the Duke of Hereford at Coventry, rode a 'horse barded with crimson velvet embroydered with Lions of silver and mulberry trees.' " 
Early History of the Membray family
This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Membray research. Another 209 words (15 lines of text) covering the years 1297, 1366, 1399, 1377, 1396, 1444, 1476, 1475, 1225, 1314, 1365, 1399, 1397, 1385, 1405 and 1405 are included under the topic Early Membray History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Membray Spelling Variations
It is only in the last few hundred years that the English language has been standardized. For that reason, Anglo-Norman surnames like Membray are characterized by many spelling variations. Scribes and monks in the Middle Ages spelled names they sounded, so it is common to find several variations that refer to a single person. As the English language changed and incorporated elements of other European languages such as Norman French and Latin, even literate people regularly changed the spelling of their names. The variations of the name Membray include Mowbray, Moubray, Mowbrey, Moubrey and others.
Early Notables of the Membray family (pre 1700)
Outstanding amongst the family at this time was Thomas Mowbray (1365-1399), an English nobleman, created 1st Duke of Norfolk in 1397, by King Richard II of England; and Thomas de Mowbray (1385-1405), 4th Earl of Norfolk, 2nd Earl of Nottingham, 8th Baron Segrave, 7th Baron Mowbray, English nobleman and rebel, after death of father, allowed to succeed him as Earl of Norfolk and Nottingham. He received his father's...
Another 68 words (5 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Membray Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Migration of the Membray family
Faced with the chaos present in England at that time, many English families looked towards the open frontiers of the New World with its opportunities to escape oppression and starvation. People migrated to North America, as well as Australia and Ireland in droves, paying exorbitant rates for passages in cramped, unsafe ships. Many of the settlers did not make the long passage alive, but those who did see the shores of North America were welcomed with great opportunity. Many of the families that came from England went on to make essential contributions to the emerging nations of Canada and the United States. Some of the first immigrants to cross the Atlantic and come to North America carried the name Membray, or a variant listed above: Thomas Moubray, who came to West Indies in 1678; William and Hannah Mowbury, who arrived in North Carolina in 1680; William Moubray, who settled in Maryland in 1716.
- 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)
- Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
- Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
- Cleveland, Dutchess of The Battle Abbey Roll with some Account of the Norman Lineages. London: John Murray, Abermarle Street, 1889. Print. Volume 2 of 3