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Ray Family History

Ray Name Meaning

English (of Norman origin): nickname denoting someone who behaved in a regal fashion or who had earned the title in some contest of skill or by presiding over festivities, from Old French rey, roy ‘king’. Occasionally this was used as a personal name. English: nickname for a timid person, from Middle English ray ‘female roe deer’ or northern Middle English ray ‘roebuck’. English: variant of Rye (1 and 2). English: habitational name, a variant spelling of Wray. Scottish: reduced and altered form of McRae. French: from a noun derivative of Old French raier ‘to gush, stream, or pour’, hence a topographic name for someone who lived near a spring or rushing stream, or a habitational name from a place called Ray. Indian: variant of Rai.

Source: Dictionary of American Family Names ©2013, Oxford University Press


Similar surnames: May, Hay, Roy, Kay, Rey, Fay, Bay, Pay, Gay, Ram

Search for a relative to learn more about your family history.

Hint: Try searching for a relative alive in 1940.

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Where is the Ray family from?

You can see how Ray families moved over time by selecting different census years. The Ray family name was found in the USA, the UK, Canada, and Scotland between 1840 and 1920. The most Ray families were found in the USA in 1880. In 1840 there were 169 Ray families living in New York. This was about 10% of all the recorded Ray's in the USA. New York had the highest population of Ray families in 1840.
Use census records and voter lists to see where families with the Ray surname lived. Within census records, you can often find information like name of household members, ages, birthplaces, residences, and occupations.

What did your Ray ancestors do for a living?

In 1940, Farmer and Maid were the top reported jobs for men and women in the US named Ray. 18% of Ray men worked as a Farmer and 7% of Ray women worked as a Maid. Some less common occupations for Americans named Ray were Truck Driver and Teacher.

View Census data for Ray | Data not to scale

*We display top occupations by gender to maintain their historical accuracy during times when men and women often performed different jobs.

Top Male Occupations in 1940

  • Farmer
    18%
  • Laborer
    17%
  • Salesman
    4%
  • Truck Driver
    4%

Top Female Occupations in 1940

  • Maid
    7%
  • Housekeeper
    6%
  • Housewife
    6%
  • Teacher
    5%
Black & white image of two construction labourers

What Ray family records will you find?

Census Records

There are 750,000 census records available for the last name Ray. Like a window into their day-to-day life, Ray census records can tell you where and how your ancestors worked, their level of education, veteran status, and more.

Search US census records for Ray

Passenger Lists

There are 51,000 immigration records available for the last name Ray. Passenger lists are your ticket to knowing when your ancestors arrived in the USA, and how they made the journey - from the ship name to ports of arrival and departure.

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Draft Cards

There are 166,000 military records available for the last name Ray. For the veterans among your Ray ancestors, military collections provide insights into where and when they served, and even physical descriptions.

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You've only scratched the surface of Ray family history.

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What is the average Ray lifespan?

Between 1940 and 2004, in the United States, Ray life expectancy was at its lowest point in 1944, and highest in 2004. The average life expectancy for Ray in 1940 was 41, and 74 in 2004.

View Social Security Death Index (SSDI) for Ray

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