Rea History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The ancestors of the Rea family lived among the Strathclyde-Briton people in the Scottish/English Borderlands. It is a name for a person known as a timid or shy person. Further research revealed that the name is derived from the Old English word ray, that referred to a roe or female deer. [1]

Early Origins of the Rea family

The surname Rea was first found in Cumberland at Gill, in the parish of Bromfield which belonged to the family from the time of William the Lion, king of Scotland (died 1214.) "Tradition says, that the original Ray was a faithful adherent of the Scottish monarch, by whom he was greatly esteemed, for his extraordinary swiftness of foot in pursuing the deer and who gave him the estate. The tenure was by a pepper-com rent, with the stipulation, that the name of William should be perpetuated in the family. This was strictly observed from generation to generation, until the latter half of the last [of the 18th] century, when the Mr. William Reay in possession gave to the ' hope of the house ' the name of John. " [1]

Thomas filius Ray witnessed confirmation by Alexander, son of Walter, of his father's gift to the church of Paisley in 1239. [2]

While there is no doubt of the family's origin in the north of England, the Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 list Reginald le Raye, in Oxfordshire; Nicholas le Ray in Suffolk; and Richard le Ray in Cambridgeshire. [3]

Early History of the Rea family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Rea research. Another 245 words (18 lines of text) covering the years 1487, 1465, 1530, 1558, 1350, 1612, 1376, 1627, 1705, 1671, 1748, 1627, 1705, 1670 and are included under the topic Early Rea History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Rea Spelling Variations

In Medieval times, spelling and translation were not nearly so highly developed as today. They were generally carried out according to the sound and intuition of the bearer. For that reason spelling variations are extremely common among early Scottish names. Rea has been spelled Rae, Rea, Ree, Ray and others.

Early Notables of the Rea family (pre 1700)

Notable amongst the family at this time was William Rae (d. 1376) a 14th century Bishop of Glasgow. Centuries later, John Ray (1627-1705) was an English naturalist, who was one of the early botanical and zoological systematists, eponym of the fish named ray. James Rae (1671-1748), was a Scottish mechanic and historian, son of a clockmaker, born at Dumfries. He...
Another 58 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Rea Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Rea Ranking

In the United States, the name Rea is the 2,653rd most popular surname with an estimated 12,435 people with that name. [4] However, in France, the name Rea is ranked the 6,274th most popular surname with an estimated 1,000 - 1,500 people with that name. [5]

Ireland Migration of the Rea family to Ireland

Some of the Rea family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 70 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 Rea migration to the United States +

Unrest, poverty, and persecution caused thousands to look for opportunity and freedom in the North American colonies. The crossing was long, overcrowded, and unsanitary, though, and came only at great expense. Many Strathclyde families settled on the east coast of North America in communities that would form the backbone of what would become the great nations of the United States and Canada. The American War of Independence caused those who remained loyal to England to move north to Canada as United Empire Loyalists. In the 20th century, Strathclyde and other Scottish families across North America began to recover their collective heritage through highland games and Clan societies. Among them:

Rea Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Hugh Rea, who settled in Virginia in 1737
  • Archibald, Elizabeth, Andrew, John, Margaret, Patrick, and Andrew Rea, who settled in Charles Town [Charleston], South Carolina in 1767
  • Frances Rea, who landed in South Carolina in 1772 [6]
  • Sarah Rea, who landed in South Carolina in 1772 [6]
  • Archibald Rea, who landed in Mississippi in 1798 [6]
Rea Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • David Rea, who settled in New York State in 1804
  • John Rea, who landed in Washington County, Pennsylvania in 1804 [6]
  • Henry Rea, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1810 [6]
  • William Rea, who landed in New York, NY in 1811 [6]
  • James Rea, aged 22, who arrived in New York in 1812 [6]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada Rea migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Rea Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • William Rea, aged 24, a labourer, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1833 aboard the brig "Dorcas Savage" from Belfast, Ireland
  • Mary Ann Rea, aged 21, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1833 aboard the brig "Dorcas Savage" from Belfast, Ireland
  • Martin Rea, who landed in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1843

Australia Rea migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Rea Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • William Rea, English convict from London, who was transported aboard the "Asia" on September 3rd, 1820, settling in New South Wales, Australia [7]
  • James Rea, English convict from Hereford, who was transported aboard the "Adamant" on March 16, 1821, settling in New South Wales, Australia [8]
  • John Rea, a coach-painter, who arrived in New South Wales, Australia sometime between 1825 and 1832

New Zealand Rea 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:

Rea Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • William Rea, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Success" in 1839
  • Mr. Thomas Rea, (b. 1802), aged 38, British labourer travelling from England aboard the ship "Martha Ridgway" arriving in Wellington, New Zealand on 14th November 1840 [9]
  • Mrs. Margaret Rea, (b. 1806), aged 34, British settler travelling from England aboard the ship "Martha Ridgway" arriving in Wellington, New Zealand on 14th November 1840 [9]
  • Miss Rea, (b. 1827), aged 13, British settler travelling from England aboard the ship "Martha Ridgway" arriving in Wellington, New Zealand on 14th November 1840 [9]
  • Mr. Rea, (b. 1837), aged 3 years 6 months, British settler travelling from England aboard the ship "Martha Ridgway" arriving in Wellington, New Zealand on 14th November 1840 [9]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Rea (post 1700) +

  • Colin D. Rea (b. 1990), American Major League Baseball pitcher
  • George Rea (1894-1978), American banker and academic, President of Drexel University (1942-1944)
  • Peggy Rea (1921-2011), American actress, best known for her role in The Dukes of Hazzard
  • Herald Rea Cox (1907-1986), American bacteriologist
  • Éamonn "Ned" Rea (1944-2021), Irish hurler who played as a full-forward for the Limerick senior team (1964-1975)
  • Jonathan Rea M.B.E., (b. 1987), Northern Irish professional motorcycle racer, competing in the Superbike World Championship, winning in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020. He was 2nd place in the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Aware in 2017
  • Ermanno Rea (1927-2016), Italian novelist, essayist, and journalist
  • Desmond "Des" Rea (1944-2016), Northern Irish boxer
  • John Joseph "Jackie" Rea (1921-2013), Northern Irish snooker player
  • John Nicolas Rea (b. 1928), 3rd Baron Rea of Eskdale in the County of Cumberland, British peer, physician and politician, Member of the House of Lords (1999-)
  • ... (Another 6 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)


The Rea Motto +

The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: In omnia promptus
Motto Translation: Ready for everything.


Suggested Readings for the name Rea +

  • Ancestors of Joseph Bolen & Mary Read by Todd Bolen.

  1. ^ Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  2. ^ Black, George F., The Surnames of Scotland Their Origin, Meaning and History. New York: New York Public Library, 1946. Print. (ISBN 0-87104-172-3)
  3. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  4. ^ https://namecensus.com/most_common_surnames.htm
  5. ^ http://www.journaldesfemmes.com/nom-de-famille/nom/
  6. ^ 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)
  7. ^ State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2016, October 27) Asia 1 voyage to Van Diemen's Land, Australia in 1820 with 192 passengers. Retrieved from http://www.convictrecords.com.au/ships/asia/1820
  8. ^ State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2016, October 27) Adamant voyage to New South Wales, Australia in 1821 with 144 passengers. Retrieved from http://www.convictrecords.com.au/ships/adamant/1821
  9. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html


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