Select Ray Miscellany

Here are some Ray stories and accounts over the years:

Rae, Rea and Ray Today

Numbers (000's)

Rae is more common in Scotland, Ray in England, Rea in Ireland.

Raes Not Timid on the Scottish Border

Tradition has it that the original Rae was a faithful adherent of the Scottish monarch, greatly esteemed for his swiftness of foot in pursuing deer. The Rae name is derived from the Old English word ra, meaning a female roe deer.  If used as a nickname, Rae would on the face of it be a description for a rather timid person.

However, nicknames could be the reverse of what they appeared to describe.  This was certainly the case with the Raes from the Dumfries area.  They were said to be among the fiercest and most disruptive of the Border 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 was legendary.

The Rev. Peter Rae from Dumfries

Peter Rae was an inventive man for his time.  Born near Dumfries in 1671, he was a clockmaker, mechanic, printer, clergyman and scholar. 

He was secretary of the Hammerman trade guild in Dumfries and had his own private printing press in Kirkbride as early as 1712.  The
astronomical chime clock at Drumlanrig castle, made and constructed in all parts by his own hand, was testament to his mechanical powers.  And Rae wrote and had printed privately by his son Robert the History of the Rebellion, an account of the 1715 Jacobite Uprising.

He was also active in the Dumfries Kirk sessions.   He proved to be a controversial minister at Kirkbride.  But when the Kirkconnel kirk was restarted in 1732 after having being suppressed the previous century, Rae was appointed as its first minister.  He held that post until his death in 1748.  He was considered in later life a fine scholar and clergyman

Gill House in Cumbria

Gill House, an old farmhouse in Bromfield parish, is said to be the most haunted house in Cumbria.

It has been surmised that the house harbors the spirit of a woman hater.  Some think that the ghost may have been that of the 18th century satanist Gerald Reay who was said to have taken this house that had been consecrated by the nearby St. Kentigern’s Church.  Or maybe the ghost belonged to his grandson Jackson who had brutally murdered his wife
and was tried for the crime in Carlisle.  Subsequently John Reay inherited the Gill House estate in 1824.

Simon Ray of Block Island

In 1660 Simon Ray met at Braintree with six other men to discuss the settlement of Block Island off Rhode Island.  Simon not only pledged to pay a sixteenth of the purchase-money for the island and to bear his proportionate part of the expense of moving the colony of sixteen families there, but he also built a vessel at his own cost for promoting and settling the island.  

The following year these sixteen families – including Simon, his mother, and his step-father - embarked on this vessel and moved to Block Island.  In 1664 Simon married Mary Thomas on the island and they raised three children there, two daughters and one son.  Their son Simon was the father of four daughters, but no sons.

Simon the father died in 1737 at the grand age of 102 and was buried at the Common Burying Ground in New Shoreham on Block Island.  His monument reads:

"This monument is erected to the memory Of Simon Ray esquire, one of the original proprietors of this island.  He was largely concerned in settling the township and was one of the chief magistrates.  And such was his benevolence that besides the care which he took of their civil interests, he frequently instructed them in the most important concerns of our holy religion.  He was deprived of his eyesight many years, cheerfully submitting to the will of God, his life being in this trying instance, as in all others, a lovely example of Christian virtue.  He died on the 17th of March 1737 in the 102nd year of his age."

William Ray, Early Indiana Settler

In 1810 William Ray moved his family from Jefferson county in Kentucky to Butler county, Ohio where they were to remain for eight years.

Then, growing restless, the Rays moved again.  The party comprised William Ray and his wife Ann, his daughter Elizabeth, his sons, John, Samuel, Martin, and also the younger William and his wife Sallie.  They rode on horseback to Riley township when it was a wilderness and was inhabited by Indians.  They were pioneers in this new land and built the first church and schoolhouse.  They settled on Section 19 where they homesteaded on 80 acres of land and built a log house for a home.

It was on March 12, 1820 that John Ray and his little son Elias went to a neighbor's to sharpen an ax.  On returning home they were overtaken by a snowstorm and both were frozen to death.  The Vigo county history says that these were the first deaths in the township.

Jewish Raes in Canada

Goodman Cohen had fled with his family from the pogroms in Lithuania to Scotland in the 1890’s.  There Goodman met Helen Rae, the daughter of a metal plater in the Glasgow shipyards. Their romance and subsequent marriage caused considerable turmoil in both families and they moved to Winnipeg in Manitoba in 1912.

Their two sons did well in very different fields.  Saul Rae became a diplomat and served as Canadian ambassador to the UN, Mexico and the Netherlands during the 1960’s and 1970’s.  His son Bob was the Premier of Ontario in the 1990’s.  Meanwhile the younger brother Jackie Rae got his start in vaudeville and was the host of The Jackie Rae Show on CBS Television during the 1950’s.

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