This interesting surname recorded in several forms including McRae, MacRae, Rae, Ree, and Rea, is of Medieval Scottish origin, although there can be confusion with English nameholder of similar spellings. The derivation is from the pre 7th century Old English 'ra'. This word described the roe deer, and when used as a nickname was on the face of it, a description for a rather timid person. However the developed sense of humour of the medieval period was to say the least robust, and 'nicknames' often meant the reverse of what they appeared to describe. This is certainly the case with the Scottish Border clan 'Rae' (originally Raa) from the Dumfries region. They were one of the fiercest and most disruptive of the famous 'Reivers'. They were described in a 15th century warrant of the Scottish court as being as 'troublesome and contumacious as any of the borderers'. Their refusal to cooperate in the lawful business of the region being legendary! There are many recordings of namebearers, these dating from as early as 1231, when Robert Raa, described as a mason, witnessed a charter to the Abbey of Culross, Peter Rae 1671 - 1748 was a minister of Kirkconnel, Scotland, and published an account of the 1715 Jacobite uprising. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Vlui Ra, which was dated 1095, in the Records of the Abbey of Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk, during the reign of King Henry 1 of England, known as 'The Lion of Justice', 1087 - 1100.
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