Tay History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The ancestors of the Tay family first reached the shores of England in the wave of migration after the Norman Conquest of 1066. Their name is derived from the Old French given name Tieis. Early records typically had the name in the Latin form: Teutonicus.

This name more often than not, is usually seen in ancient records in what one would presume to be the plural form, as in Teys. However this is not the case. "This was a baronial name. The family of Teutonicus, or Tyes, is frequently mentioned both in Normandy and England, and may possibly have descended from Baldric Teutonicus, ancestor of the Courcys and Nevills." [1]

Early Origins of the Tay family

The surname Tay was first found in Yorkshire where "at a very small distance from the field of battle of Towton stands the antique and diminutive chapel of Leod, or Lede, which seems to have been domestic to the adjoining manor house. This was one of the seats of the ancient family of Tyas, styling themselves in Latin Teutonicus, five of whose tombs still remain in the chapel, which, as I recollect, is little more than eighteen feet long within. The inscriptions, in Longobardic characters, are partly visible. This family De Tyas appear to have been magnificent persons. Sir Baldwin Teutonicus is styled nobilis miles, and a lady, probably his wife, nobilis faemina." [2]

"The name was by no means confined to Yorkshire. There was a Waleran Teutonicus, who, in the time of Henry III., had the custody of the Isle of Wight during the minority of Earl Baldwin. Roger de Teie occurs in Oxfordshire 1194-98 (Curia Regis Rolls). Sir Walter de Teys in 1316 held Bromham in Bedfordshire, and Nunnington, in Yorkshire. He was summoned to parliament at Northampton in 1307, and again the following year for the King's coronation." [2]

The Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 included: Warin Toy, Cambridgeshire; and A. Wydo Toye, Suffolk. Later the Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls of Yorkshire listed Johannes Toye; and Willelmus Toye as holding lands there at that time. [3]

In Essex, the Feet of Fines included Walter de Teye in 1294. [4] Here the family gave their name to Great Tey, Little Tey and in part to Marks Tey. Collectively dating back to Saxon times when they were known c. 950 as Tygan, by the time of the Domesday Book of 1086 the parish was known as Teia. [5] The latter, Tey Marks "takes the present adjunct to its name from the family of Marks, or Merks, to whom it anciently belonged." [6]

"Sir Henry Tyes, who held lands in Oxfordshire, Berkshire, and Wiltshire, was a Baron by writ in 13 13. He served Edward II. in his Scottish wars; but, in 1322, taking part with the Earl of Lancaster, he was in arms against the King, attacked and burnt Bridgenorth, and 'was one of the traitors that assisted in taking the town of Gloucester.' He was made prisoner at the battle of Boroughbridge, and hanged for treason." [2]

Early History of the Tay family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Tay research. Another 75 words (5 lines of text) covering the years 1378, 1540, 1577, 1540, 1556, 1541, 1556, 1611, 1663, 1611, 1628, 1630, 1634 and 1643 are included under the topic Early Tay History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Tay Spelling Variations

Norman surnames are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations. The frequent changes in surnames are largely due to the fact that the Old and Middle English languages lacked definite spelling rules. The introduction of Norman French to England, as well as the official court languages of Latin and French, also had pronounced influences on the spelling of surnames. Since medieval 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. The name has been spelled Tey, Tay, Teyas, They, Toye, Teye and others.

Early Notables of the Tay family (pre 1700)

Outstanding amongst the family at this time was Humphrey Toy, (1540-1577), English printer, born probably in London about 1540, son of Robert Toy, printer. His father (d. 1556) possibly came originally from Wales. Before 1541, he had set up a printing press at the sign of the Bell in St. Paul's Churchyard. He died in February 1556. John Toy (1611-1663), was an English author, son...
Another 65 words (5 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Tay Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Tay Ranking

In the United States, the name Tay is the 17,955th most popular surname with an estimated 2,487 people with that name. [7]


United States Tay migration to the United States +

Many English families emigrated to North American colonies in order to escape the political chaos in Britain at this time. Unfortunately, many English families made the trip to the New World under extremely harsh conditions. Overcrowding on the ships caused the majority of the immigrants to arrive diseased, famished, and destitute from the long journey across the stormy Atlantic. Despite these hardships, many of the families prospered and went on to make invaluable contributions to the development of the cultures of the United States and Canada. Early North American immigration records have revealed a number of people bearing the name Tay or a variant listed above:

Tay Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • William Tay, who arrived in Boston, Massachusetts in 1642 [8]
  • Henry Tay, who landed in Ipswich, Massachusetts in 1655 [8]
  • Elias Tay, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1693 [8]
Tay Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • George Tay and his wife settled in Philadelphia in 1764
Tay Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • D. S. Tay, who arrived in San Francisco in 1853

Australia Tay migration to Australia +

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

Tay Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. William Tay, (b. 1834), aged 22, Cornish farm servant departing from Plymouth on 31st August 1856 aboard the ship "Severn" arriving in Port Phillip Bay, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia on 9th December 1856 [9]

New Zealand Tay 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:

Tay Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Mr. William Tay, (b. 1845), aged 29, Cornish farm labourer departing on 28th July 1874 aboard the ship "Helen Denny" going to Hawkes Bay, New Zealand arriving in port on 22nd October 1874 [10]

Contemporary Notables of the name Tay (post 1700) +

  • Associate Professor Paulin Tay Straughan, academic and Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP) in Singapore (2009-2012)
  • Tay Garnett (1894-1977), American film director and writer


  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. ^ 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. ^ Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  5. ^ Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds., Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8)
  6. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  7. ^ https://namecensus.com/most_common_surnames.htm
  8. ^ 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)
  9. ^ Cornwall Online Parish Clerks. (Retrieved 3rd May 2018). Retrieved from http://www.opc-cornwall.org/Resc/pdfs/emigration_australia_victoria.pdf
  10. ^ Cornwall Online Parish Clerks. (Retrieved 2018, April 30). Emigrants to other ports, 1872 - 84 [PDF]. Retrieved from http://www.opc-cornwall.org/Resc/pdfs/new_zealand_assisted.pdf


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