Origin, Meaning and Family History of the Bray Name
Origins of Name:
The surname of Bray has four possible origin sources. The first of these sources is of the Anglo-Saxon origin, “Brai,” which is a locational surname that was recorded in the Doomsday Book of 1086. The Doomsday Book recorded the “Great Survey” of England. This locational name is thought to come from the villages names East Berkshire or Devonshire, and named after the Old English pre 7th Century word “breg” (or the Welsh, Cornish “bre”) both of which mean hill. This name may also have been derived from the nickname of a great and noble bearing individual, from the Cornish “bregh” which means fine, or brave. Thirdly, the surname of Bray may possibly be derived from the Scottish locations named Brae, which also means hill. Finally, the fourth possible origin of the surname Bray is from an Irish origin. The Old Gaelic “O’Breaghdha” which was used to name a native person from Bregia (an ancient territory in the County Meath). Out of the four possible origins for the surname of Bray, three of these possibilities have to do with the location, these types of surnames are referred to as “habitat” surnames.
More common variations are:
Braye, Breay, Baray, Buray, Boray, Beray, Biray, Braya, Brayo, Brawy, Bree, Brea,
The first recorded spelling of the surname Bray, was recorded as Alnod De Braio, who was noted in the Doomsday Book of 1086 for Devonshire, which was under the rule of King William I, who was known as “William the Conqueror” and ruled from the year 1066 to the year 1087. There are more people with the surname of Bray in the counties of Yorkshire, Lancashire, Lincolnshire, Cornwall, Somerset, Devon, Leicestershire, and the city of London, than other places throughout England.
In Scotland, those with the surname of Bray are scattered across the land. Counties with high volumes of people bearing the surname of Bray include Midlothian, Lanarkshire, and Renfrewshire.
The surname was brought into Ireland after being introduced during the Norman invastion of 1066. Bray is also the anglicized version of the Gaelic surname, O’Breaghda sept name. The name was used to describe a person from the Bregia area. Bregia is of County Meath. Bree is also an Irish variant of the surname.
During the European Migration, when European citizens were fed up with their government, they emigrated to search for a better life—one filled with better jobs, living conditions, and religious freedom. Many of these people landed in the United States of America, which at that time was called the New World. The earliest families bearing the surname of Bray, settled in the colonies and states of Massachusetts, New York, Maine, Kentucky, New Jersey, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Georgia, and Pennsylvania. The first settlers with the Bray surname who were recorded in the United States were Mrs. Bray, who settled in the state of Virginia in 1622, John Bray, who settled in Maine in the year 1630, and Henry and Nicholas Bray, who settled in Virginia in the year of 1652.
Australia and New Zealand:
During the 19th Century, it was common for settlers to immigrate to the countries of Australia and New Zealand. The first person with the surname of Bray to land in Australia, was John Bray, who arrived in Kangaroo Island aboard the ship named the “Hartley” in the year 1837. The first person who bore the surname of Bray to settle in New Zealand was J Bray, who landed in Auckland, New Zealand in the year 1843.
United States 38,415
Papua New Guinea 3,736
South Africa 2,758
New Zealand 1,117
Lance Allen “Lane” Bray (1928-2015) who was a Member of the Washington House of Representatives from 1991 to 1995, and was an American politician
Curtis Bray (1970-2014) who was both a college football coach and player in America, and was the first-ever defensive player to with the Gatorade National High School Football Player of the Year Award
John Bray (1875-1945) who was a bronze Olympic Medalist runner from America in the 1900 Summer Games
Stephen Bray (born in 1956) who was a songwriter, record producer, and drummer from America
Alan Bray (born in 1956) who is a painter from America
Robert Thomas Bray, who had been an Adjutant General of the Rhode Island National Guard since 2006
Mr. Clarence Bray, who was a Petty Officer in Great Britain, who survived the sinking of the HMS Repulse
Mr. William George Bray, who sailed into battle on the HMS Prince of Wales and survived the sinking, was also a British Yeoman of Signals
Mr. Stewart Bray, who was a British Ordinary Seaman, and survived the sinking of the HMS Prince of Wales
Bray Coat of Arms Meaning
The four main devices (symbols) in the Bray blazon are the bend, fleur-de-lis, eagle’s leg and cross formee. The three main tinctures (colors) are vair, or and gules .
Or is the heraldic metal Gold, often shown as a bold, bright yellow colour. It is said to show “Generosity and elevation of the mind” . Later heralds, of a more poetic nature liked to refer to it as Topaz, after the gemstone, and, for obvious reasons associated it with the Sun . In drawings without colour it is usually represented by many small dots, or by the letter ‘O’ .
Gules, the heraldic colour red is very popular, sometimes said to represent “Military Fortitude and Magnanimity”. It is usually abbreviated as gu and in the days before colour printing was shown in a system known as hatching by vertical lines . Although it may look like a French word it is normally pronounced with a hard “g” and may be derived either from the Latin gula (throat) or Arabic gule (rose).
The bend is a distinctive part of the shield, frequently occuring and clearly visible from a distance – it is a broad band running from top left to bottom right . Indeed, so important is the bend that it was the subject of one of the earliest cases before the English Court of Chivalry; the famous case of 1390, Scrope vs Grosvenor had to decide which family were the rightful owners of Azure, a bend or (A blue shield, with yellow bend). . The bend is held in high honour and may signify “defence or protection” and often borne by those of high military rank .
The fleur-de-lys (“flower of the lily”) has a long and noble history and was a symbol associated with the royalty of France even before heraldry became widespread. . The Lily flower is said to represent “Purity, or whiteness of soul” and sometimes associated with the Virgin Mary. The fleur-de-lys is also used as a small “badge”, known as a mark of cadency to show that the holder is the sixth son of the present holder of the arms
Where the lion is undisputed king of the animals, the eagle undoubtedly plays the same role in the realm of the birds, its use in this form dating back to at least the Roman period . They tend to be illustrated in quite some detail, especially in continental European arms, and have almost as wide variety of postures and accessories as the lion, well illustrated in the reference as well as being just the eagle’s head or eagle’s leg. The symbology of the eagle is deep and complex, Wade devotes several pages to the subject , but suffice it say that it has long been associated with Empire and those held in high honour – any armiger would be pleased to have any form of Eagle upon their arms!