An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright © 2000 - 2016
The illustrious surname Spray finds its origin in the rocky, seaswept coastal area of southwestern England known as Cornwall. Under the Feudal System of government, surnames evolved and they often reflected life on the manor and in the field. Nickname surnames were rare among the Cornish, they did occasionally adopt names that reflected the physical characteristics or other attributes of the original bearer of the name. The name Spray is a nickname type of surname for a person who is lively and alert. Tracing the origin of the name further, we found the name Spray was originally from the Old English word spray, of the same meaning.
The surname Spray was first found in Cornwall, at St. Anthony in Roseland, a parish, in the union of Truro, W. division of the hundred of Powder. "The living is a donative, in the patronage of the family of Spry: the tithes have been commuted for £118. The church, beautifully situated on the border of a navigable lake separating this parish from St. Mawes, contains some handsome monuments to the Spry family, of which one, by Westmacott, is to the memory of Sir Richard Spry, Rear-Admiral of the White."  Alternatively, the family could have originated in Spreyton in Devon.
Cornish surnames are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations. The frequent changes in surnames are due to the fact that the Old and Middle English languages lacked definite spelling rules. The official court languages, which were Latin and French, were also influential on the spelling of a surname. Since the spelling of surnames was rarely consistent in medieval times, and scribes and church officials recorded names as they sounded rather than adhering to any specific spelling rules, it was common to find the same individual referred to with different spellings of their surname in the ancient chronicles. Moreover, a large number of foreign names were brought into England, which accelerated and accentuated the alterations to the spelling of various surnames. Lastly, spelling variations often resulted from the linguistic differences between the people of Cornwall and the rest of England. The Cornish spoke a unique Brythonic Celtic language which was first recorded in written documents during the 10th century. However, they became increasingly Anglicized, and Cornish became extinct as a spoken language in 1777, although it has been revived by Cornish patriots in the modern era. The name has been spelled Spry, Spray, Spre, Spraye, Sprye, Sprey, Sprie and many more.
This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Spray research. Another 243 words (17 lines of text) covering the years 1485, 1627, 1612, 1685, 1660 and 1663 are included under the topic Early Spray History in all our PDF Extended History products.
Another 77 words (6 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Spray Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.
Some of the first immigrants to cross the Atlantic and come to North America carried the name Spray, or a variant listed above:
Spray Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
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: Soyez sage et simple
Motto Translation: Be wise and simple.
The Spray Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Spray 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 9 March 2016 at 12:19.