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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2016

Origins Available: French, Scottish

The ancestors of the first families to use the name Roy lived in ancient Scotland in the kingdom of Dalriada. The name was then used as a nickname for a person with red hair. Roy is a nickname, which belongs to the category of hereditary surnames. Nicknames form a broad and miscellaneous class of surnames, and can refer directly or indirectly to one's personality, physical attributes, mannerisms, or even their habits of dress. The surname Roy comes from the Gaelic word ruadh, which means red. Thus, the original bearers of the surname Roy would have been known for their red hair, or possibly, a ruddy complexion.


The surname Roy was first found in Lanarkshire (Gaelic: Siorrachd Lannraig) a former county in the central Strathclyde region of Scotland, now divided into the Council Areas of North Lanarkshire, South Lanarkshire, and the City of Glasgow, where they held a family seat from very early times, where some say before the Millenium.

In various documents Roy has been spelled Since medieval scribes still spelled according to sound, records from that era contain an enormous number of spelling variations. Roy, Roys, Roye, Roi, McRoy and others.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Roy research. Another 196 words (14 lines of text) covering the years 1488 and 1550 are included under the topic Early Roy History in all our PDF Extended History products.


More information is included under the topic Early Roy Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


Some of the Roy family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 274 words (20 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.


Many who arrived from Scotland settled along the east coast of North America in communities that would go on to become the backbones of the young nations of the United States and Canada. In the American War of Independence, many settlers who remained loyal to England went north to Canada as United Empire Loyalists. Their descendants later began to recover the lost Scottish heritage through events such as the highland games that dot North America in the summer months. Research into various historical records revealed some of first members of the Roy family emigrate to North America:

Roy Settlers in United States in the 17th Century

  • Henry and Margaret Roy who settled in Virginia in 1637
  • Jacob Roy, aged 42, landed in New York in 1647
  • Hugh Roy settled in Virginia in 1654
  • Christian Roy, who arrived in Maryland in 1673

Roy Settlers in United States in the 18th Century

  • Daniel Roy, who landed in Jamestown, Va in 1700
  • Daniel Roy settled in Virginia in 1700
  • Jacques Roy, who arrived in Jamestown, Va in 1700
  • Bryan Roy, who landed in Virginia in 1705
  • Francois Roy, aged 30, arrived in Louisiana in 1719

Roy Settlers in United States in the 19th Century

  • William Roy, aged 21, arrived in New York in 1812
  • Juan Bautista Roy, who arrived in Puerto Rico in 1816
  • Mrs. Roy, aged 45, settled with her three children in New Orleans in 1821
  • George Roy, aged 26, arrived in Barnstable, Massachusetts in 1822
  • James Roy, aged 24, landed in Barnstable, Massachusetts in 1822

Roy Settlers in Canada in the 17th Century

  • Benoit Roy, who arrived in Canada in 1632-1760
  • Hierosme Roy, who landed in Quebec in 1643
  • Jean Roy, who arrived in Montreal in 1659
  • Bastien Roy, who landed in Quebec in 1665
  • Louis Roy, who landed in Quebec in 1685

Roy Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century

  • Walter Roy, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1749
  • Genevieve Roy, aged 44, landed in St Pierre and Miquelon in 1767

Roy Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century

  • Jane Roy, English convict from Kent, who was transported aboard the "Arab" on December 14, 1835, settling in Van Diemen's Land, Austraila
  • John Roy, aged 22, a gardener, arrived in South Australia in 1851 aboard the ship "Omega"


  • William Burton Le Roy, American politician, Member of New York State Assembly from Albany County 4th District, 1889, 1890
  • H. Eugene Le Roy, American politician, Candidate for U.S. Representative from Michigan 11th District, 1932
  • Vesta Roy (1925-2002), American politician and acting governor of New Hampshire 1982-1983
  • J Stapleton Roy (b. 1935), American (Chinese-born) diplomat and Asian affairs expert, US ambassador to Singapore 1984-1986
  • William Roy (1726-1790), Scottish military surveyor
  • Mr. Roy, British Marine, who sailed in to battle on the HMS Prince of Wales and survived the sinking, was listed as missing and presumed killed during the evacuation of Singapore 1942
  • Juthika Roy (1920-2014), bhajan singer from India
  • Brigadier Arthur Richard Roy (b. 1902), Canadian Commanding Officer 15th Canadian Brigade
  • J Edmond Roy, French author who wrote the history of the domain of Lauzon
  • Catherine Murray Roy CBE, RRC, MM, Matron-in-Chief, Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service



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: Qua tendis
Motto Translation: Whither do you steer.


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  1. Bain, Robert. The Clans and Tartans of Scotland. Glasgow & London: Collins, 1968. Print. (ISBN 000411117-6).
  2. Donaldson, Gordon and Robert S. Morpeth. Who's Who In Scotish History. Wales: Welsh Academic Press, 1996. Print. (ISBN 186057-0054).
  3. Moody David. Scottish Family History. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1994. Print. (ISBN 0806312688).
  4. Fulton, Alexander. Scotland and Her Tartans: The Romantic Heritage of the Scottish Clans and Families. Godalming: Bramley, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-86283-880-0).
  5. Leyburn, James Graham. The Scotch-Irish A Social History. Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 1962. Print. (ISBN 0807842591).
  6. Browning, Charles H. Americans of Royal Descent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  7. Robb H. Amanda and Andrew Chesler. Encyclopedia of American Family Names. New York: Haper Collins, 1995. Print. (ISBN 0-06-270075-8).
  8. Bradford, William. History of Plymouth Plantation 1620-1647 Edited by Samuel Eliot Morrison 2 Volumes. New York: Russell and Russell, 1968. Print.
  9. Markale, J. Celtic Civilization. London: Gordon & Cremonesi, 1976. Print.
  10. Dorward, David. Scottish Surnames. Glasgow: Harper Collins, 1995. Print.
  11. ...

The Roy Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Roy 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 5 May 2016 at 20:39.

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