Last name: Ray

This is a surname with one of the most ancient origins. It derives from an Olde British word 'ea' pronounced 'ay' and describes someone who lived by a stream. More pragmatically it probably referred to somebody who lived on dry land by a stream, since before the days of land drainage to find 'dry land' was vital. It is true that some nameholders particularly those who originate in the Sussex - Kent region of England, may derive from the town of Rye, which means what it says - 'the place where corn was grown'. In Early English the descriptive phrase was 'aet paere ea' (at the island) which by the Middle ages had become 'at ther ee', and thence was further shortened to 'atte rie' and hence the modern surname which can be found as Ray, Rea, Reay, Wrey, Raye, and even Nye, formerly 'atten ea'! Examples of early recordings include William atte Rea in the 1327 Subsidy Rolls of Sussex, William bith Ree in the 1293 rolls of Worcester, and John atte Reye in the Essex Rolls of 1327. The Coat of Arms granted in Northumberland has the blazon of a blue field, a plate between three silver crescents. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Ralph de la Reye, which was dated 1279, in the Hundred Rolls of Oxfordshire, during the reign of King Edward 1, known as 'The hammer of the Scots', 1272 - 1307. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.

© Copyright: Name Origin Research www.surnamedb.com 1980 - 2014

Surname Scroll

Enjoy this name printed onto our colourful scroll, printed in Olde English script. An ideal gift. View Details.
PayPal Acceptance Mark
Surname Scroll

Rachael Ray
I always thought it was native American because my grandfather, Monte Ray, and his dad and so forth are all native American from Cherokee. I'm really curious to know if that's the real origin or if it's something else.

Janie Ray Payne
Our last name was from Cherokee Indian descent. My grandfather, Martin Ray, came over on the Trail of Tears from North Carolina to Oklahoma.

Ernest
My great-grandfather was also native american Emmet Ray

James
What is the BEST webside for surname research?

prince kumar ray
my father surname is ray and he was migrated from bangladesh.so what is my real origin

dianne killeen
My Great-Grandfather was half native american Charles Ray.

chris a ray
my great grand father was also charles ray. his son was charles dean ray. and my fathers name was dean charles ray.

Charles Edward

My grandfather was James or Jim Ray from around Claiborne county in Tennessee. I was named Charles.

Jake
Is Ray also an Native American last name I was wondering