Show ContentsRye History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The name Rye reached England in the great wave of migration following the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Rye family lived in Normandy at Rye, three leagues north of Bayeux. "Geoffrey de Rie was living c. 980. His son Odo Fitz Geoffrey gave half the church of Rie to Fescamp Abbey, which was confirmed 1027 by Richard II. of Normandy." [1]

"It was Hubert de Rie, who, in 1047, saved the life of the young Duke of Normandy the future Conqueror of England when flying from the conspirators of the Cotentin. He had made his escape by night from Valognes, without armour or attendants, and " dared not," says Wace, " turn towards Bayeux, for he knew not whom to trust, so he took the way which passes between Bayeux and the sea. And as he rode through Rie before the sun rose, Hubert de Rie stood at his gate, between the church and his castle, and saw Wilham pass in disorder, and that his horse was all in a sweat. ' How is it that you travel so, fair sire ? ' said he. ' Hubert,' said William, ' dare I tell you ?' Then Hubert said, "Of a truth, most surely ! say on boldly ! 'I will have no secrets with you; my enemies follow seeking me, and menace my life. I know that they have sworn my death.' " Then Hubert led him into his hostel, and gave him his good horse, and called forth his three sons. 'Fair sons,' said he, ' muntez ! muntez ! Behold your lord ; conduct him till ye have lodged him in Falaise. This way ye shall pass; it will be ill for you to touch upon any town.' So Hubert taught them well the ways and turnings ; and his sons understood all rightly, and followed his instructions exactly. They crossed all the country, passed Folpendant at the ford, and lodged William at Falaise." [2]

William never forgot the good deed. By the time of the Conquest, Hubert "was then an old man, and must have died before 1086, as his sons only are entered in Domesday. There were four: Ralph, Hubert, Adam, and Eudo, all of them magnificently endowed by the Conqueror." [2]

Early Origins of the Rye family

The surname Rye was first found in Norfolk, where Hubert de Ria was listed in the Pipe Rolls of 1169. Matillis de la Rye was registered in Hampshire in 1237; William de Rye was found in the Feet of Fines for Essex in 1240; and Geoffrey ate Rye was listed in 1297. [3]

In addition to the Ryes of Whitwell in Derbyshire, William de Rye perhaps the same William mentioned in Norfolk was Conservator of York in 1287. The Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 listed: John de Rye, Lincolnshire; and John de la Rye, Kent. [4]

Rye in Sussex is probably related to the family. "This place, which belonged originally to the monastery of Feschamp, in Normandy, was at an early date, together with Winchelsea, annexed to the cinque-ports of England, in the charters granted to which these two towns are invariably styled 'ancient towns.' In the reign of Edward III., Rye was surrounded by a strong wall with several gates, of which that called the Land Gate, the only one remaining, now forms a beautiful entrance to the town from the London and Dover roads. " [5]

Early History of the Rye family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Rye research. Another 299 words (21 lines of text) covering the years 1583, 1263, 1268, 1272, 1290, 1276, 1277, 1280, 1309 and 1461 are included under the topic Early Rye History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Rye Spelling Variations

Before the advent of the printing press and the first dictionaries, the English language was not standardized. Sound was what guided spelling in the Middle Ages, so one person's name was often recorded under several variations during a single lifetime. Spelling variations were common, even among the names of the most literate people. Known variations of the Rye family name include Rye, Rie, Ries, Ryse, Rise and others.

Early Notables of the Rye family (pre 1700)

More information is included under the topic Early Rye Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Rye Ranking

In the United States, the name Rye is the 8,246th most popular surname with an estimated 2,487 people with that name. [6]

United States Rye migration to the United States +

To escape the political and religious chaos of this era, thousands of English families began to migrate to the New World in search of land and freedom from religious and political persecution. The passage was expensive and the ships were dark, crowded, and unsafe; however, those who made the voyage safely were encountered opportunities that were not available to them in their homeland. Many of the families that reached the New World at this time went on to make important contributions to the emerging nations of the United States and Canada. Research into various historical records has revealed some of first members of the Rye family to immigrate North America:

Rye Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Henry Rye, who arrived in Virginia in 1664 [7]
  • Herbert Rye, who landed in Virginia in 1664 [7]
  • William Rye, who landed in Virginia in 1664 [7]
  • John Rye, who arrived in Maryland in 1668 [7]
Rye Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • George Rye who settled in New England in 1772
Rye Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • John and L. Rye, who settled in San Francisco in 1852
  • Ebeneza Rye, who landed in Texas in 1893 [7]

New Zealand Rye 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:

Rye Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Richard Rye, aged 23, a labourer, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Dilharree" in 1875
  • Catherine Rye, aged 21, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Dilharree" in 1875
  • Mr. William Rye, (b. 1844), aged 34, English settler born in Kent travelling from Plymouth aboard the ship "Stad Haarlem" arriving in Wellington, New Zealand in 1879 [8]
  • Mrs. Susannah Rye, (b. 1850), aged 28, English settler born in Kent travelling from Plymouth aboard the ship "Stad Haarlem" arriving in Wellington, New Zealand in 1879 [8]
  • Mr. William Henry Rye, (b. 1871), aged 7, English settler born in Kent travelling from Plymouth aboard the ship "Stad Haarlem" arriving in Wellington, New Zealand in 1879 [8]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Rye (post 1700) +

  • Douglas Forsythe Rye (b. 1950), American voice actor based in Los Angeles
  • Michael Rye (1918-2012), born John Michael Riorden Billsbury, American voice actor and television actor
  • Thomas Clarke Rye (1863-1953), American politician, 32nd Governor of Tennessee from 1915 to 1919
  • Samuel R. Rye, American politician, Mayor of Adrian, Michigan, 2005 [9]
  • Edward Caldwell Rye (1832-1885), English entomologist, eldest son of Edward Rye, a London solicitor of Norfolk descent, Librarian of the Royal Geographical Society
  • Maria Susan Rye (1829-1903), English social reformer and a promoter of emigration of young women to Australia and New Zealand from the Liverpool workhouses
  • Frank Gibbs Rye OBE CBE (1874-1948), British solicitor and Conservative politician
  • Stellan Rye (1880-1915), Danish-born film director
  • Preben Lerdorff Rye (1917-1995), Danish film actor who appeared in 92 films between 1941 and 1989
  • Major-General Charles Henry Rye (1874-1969), Danish Head of Army Technical Corps (1930-1941) [10]

  1. 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)
  2. Cleveland, Dutchess of The Battle Abbey Roll with some Account of the Norman Lineages. London: John Murray, Abermarle Street, 1889. Print. Volume 3 of 3
  3. Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  4. Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  5. Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  6. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?".,
  7. 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)
  8. New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 26th March 2019). Retrieved from
  9. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, November 19) . Retrieved from
  10. Generals of World War II. (Retrieved 2011, October 5) Charles Rye. Retrieved from on Facebook