Reay History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

A Strathclyde-Briton family from the Scottish/English Borderlands was the first to use the surname Reay. 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 Reay family

The surname Reay 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 Reay family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Reay 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 Reay History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Reay Spelling Variations

The origin of rules governing the spelling of names and even words is a very recent innovation. Before that, words and names were spelled according to sound, and, therefore, often appeared under several different spelling variations in a single document. Reay has been spelled Rae, Rea, Ree, Ray and others.

Early Notables of the Reay 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 Reay Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Reay Ranking

In the United States, the name Reay is the 13,944th most popular surname with an estimated 2,487 people with that name. [4]

Ireland Migration of the Reay family to Ireland

Some of the Reay 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 Reay migration to the United States +

The persecution faced in their homeland left many Scots with little to do but sail for the colonies of North America. There they found land, freedom, opportunity, and nations in the making. They fought for their freedom in the American War of Independence, or traveled north to Canada as United Empire Loyalists. In both cases, they made enormous contributions to the formation of those great nations. Among them:

Reay Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Jane Reay, who landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1746 [5]
Reay Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Jamison Reay, aged 26, who arrived in Mobile, Ala in 1849 [5]
  • Alexander Reay, aged 18, who arrived in New York in 1862 [5]
  • George Reay, aged 53, who landed in New York in 1862 [5]
  • Margaret Reay, aged 53, who arrived in New York in 1862 [5]
  • Mary Reay, aged 19, who landed in New York in 1862 [5]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Reay 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:

Reay Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Marianne Reay, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Union" in 1843
  • Charles Reay, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Union" in 1843
  • Jane Reay, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Union" in 1843
  • Mr. Reay, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "St. Michael" arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on 8th January 1850 [6]
  • Mr. Matthew Reay, (b. 1833), aged 30, British labourer travelling from London aboard the ship "David G. Fleming" arriving in Lyttelton, Canterbury, New Zealand on 9th December 1863 [7]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Reay (post 1700) +

  • Ryan Hunter Reay (b. 1980), American auto racer now racing for the Indy Racing League
  • Donald P. Reay (1914-2002), American Professor of Architecture, Emeritus
  • Stephen Reay (1782-1861), Scottish Orientalist, only son of Rev. John Reay, born at Montrose
  • Christopher Reay, New Zealand professional basketball player
  • Billy Reay (b. 1918), Canadian NHL hockey player and coach
  • Reay Tannahill (1929-2007), Scottish historian and novelist

Halifax Explosion
  • Mrs. Mary  Reay (1851-1917), Canadian resident from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who died in the explosion [8]
HMS Hood
  • Mr. William E Reay (b. 1911), English Petty Officer serving for the Royal Navy from Workington, Cumberland, England, who sailed into battle and died in the sinking [9]

The Reay 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.

  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. ^
  5. ^ 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)
  6. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 26th March 2019). Retrieved from
  7. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from
  8. ^ Halifax Explosion Book of Remembrance | Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. (Retrieved 2014, June 23) . Retrieved from
  9. ^ H.M.S. Hood Association-Battle Cruiser Hood: Crew Information - H.M.S. Hood Rolls of Honour, Men Lost in the Sinking of H.M.S. Hood, 24th May 1941. (Retrieved 2016, July 15) . Retrieved from on Facebook
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