Vernay History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Vernay is a name of ancient Norman origin. It arrived in England with the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Vernay family lived in "Vernai, near Bayeux, Normandy. Walter de Vernai occurs in Cambridgeshire in 1158, and Richard de Vernai in Staffordshire in the time of Richard I. The Lords Willoughby de Broke descend from William de Vernai, living 1119-1148. They were first seated at Bromshulfe in Staffordshire, and in the beginning of the fourteenth century at Madeley in Herefordshire, but as early as the reign of Henry VL we find them settled in their present home in Warwickshire." [1]

Early Origins of the Vernay family

The surname Vernay was first found in Warwickshire where in 1442 Richard de Vernay built a stately manor house at Compton-Murdack, which as Compton-Vernay, still continues to be the family seat. His grandson, another Richard, was "in such esteem with Henry VIII., that, being informed of some infirmity in his head, he granted him a special license, dated Greenwich, January 15th, 1517, to wear his bonnet at all times and in all places, as well in the King's presence as elsewhere, according to his own pleasure, without the interruption of any man whatsoever." [1]

Apparently, Richard Verney (d.1489) with the assistance of his younger brother John Verney, Dean of Lichfield, formerly Rector of Bredon in Worcestershire, and supervisor and receiver-general to Richard Beauchamp, 13th Earl of Warwick (1382-1439) acquired Compton Murdack (Murdak). The Verney family had begun acquiring lands in the area surrounding Compton Murdak in the 1430s before purchasing the estate. In about 1500 the manor was renamed Compton Verney as was built c. 1442.

Wenzel Hollar (1607-1677) completed a full sketch of the stained glass windows in the manor house depicting various arms of the family and kings at the time.

"Richard Verney Esquire (afterward knight) possest it and built a great part of the house as it now standeth, wherein besides his own armes with matches, he then set up towards the upper end of the hall the armes of King Henry the Sixth, Queen Margaret, Humfrey Earl of Stafford (afterwards created Duke of Buck(ingham)), Henry Beauchamp, Duke of Warwick, and the Lord Zouch, with some others, by which it appeareth that he was one of those that adhered to the House of Lancaster".

The Earls Verney descended from Sir Ralph Verney, whose son John married a Hertfordshire heiress, the daughter of Sir Robert Whittington of Penley, Sheriff of London in 1419. They were afterwards seated at Middle Claydon, Bucks (bought by Sir Ralph in 1458), and "either he, or his son Sir John, built a capital mansion there in the reign of Henry VII., which has ever since been the chief seat of the family, but having undergone many alterations, retains no vestige of its ancient form. The more modern part was fitted up in a very magnificent manner, and furnished, with great expense, by the late Earl Verney." [1]

Early History of the Vernay family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Vernay research. Another 136 words (10 lines of text) covering the years 1419, 1465, 1642, 1703 and 1791 are included under the topic Early Vernay History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Vernay Spelling Variations

Endless spelling variations are a prevailing characteristic of Norman surnames. Old and Middle English lacked any definite spelling rules, and the introduction of Norman French added an unfamiliar ingredient to the English linguistic stew. French and Latin, the languages of the court, also influenced spellings. Finally, Medieval scribes generally spelled words according to how they sounded, so one person was often referred to by different spellings in different documents. The name has been spelled Varney, Verney and others.

Early Notables of the Vernay family (pre 1700)

Outstanding amongst the family at this time was Sir Edmund Verney, standard bearer to King Charles I., who fell at the battle of Edgehill in 1642. He was the father of Sir Ralph, the first Baronet, and the grandfather of Sir John, created in 1703 Baron Verney of Belturbet and Viscount of Fermanagh in Ireland. An Earldom followed...
Another 57 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Vernay Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Vernay Ranking

In France, the name Vernay is the 1,670th most popular surname with an estimated 3,608 people with that name. [2]

Ireland Migration of the Vernay family to Ireland

Some of the Vernay family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. More information about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Vernay migration to the United States +

To escape the political and religious persecution within England at the time, many English families left for the various British colonies abroad. The voyage was extremely difficult, though, and the cramped, dank ships caused many to arrive in the New World diseased and starving. But for those who made it, the trip was most often worth it. Many of the families who arrived went on to make valuable contributions to the emerging nations of Canada and the United States. An inquiry into the early roots of North American families reveals a number of immigrants bearing the name Vernay or a variant listed above:

Vernay Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Jean Vernay, aged 22, who landed in Louisiana in 1719 [3]


  1. ^ 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
  2. ^ http://www.journaldesfemmes.com/nom-de-famille/nom/
  3. ^ 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)


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