Saturday, August 22, 2015

Surname Saturday ~ BRAY of Gloucester, Massachusetts

Gloucester, Massachusetts

Some early settlers to Massachusetts were followers of Reverend Richard Blinman/Blynman, and they were called “The Blynman Party”.  Most of this group were members of his church from Chepstow, Monmouthshire, Wales, who joined with Rev. Blinman when he was told to leave his post as minister because of his Puritan leanings.   They arrived before 1640 in the Plymouth Colony, and tended to migrate together as a group when they later removed to Cape Ann and settled in Gloucester.  This group established the First Church, where Rev. Blinman was minister until 1649, before he removed to New London, Connecticut and some of his group followed him there, too. 

Thomas Bray, my 10th great grandfather, may have been a member of the Blynman Party.   BRAY is a surname found in Wales, and he was a resident of the Plymouth Colony.   Thomas Bray, a “single person”,  and the wife of Francis Linceford, were charged with adultery on 7 December 1641 in the Plymouth court. He was sentenced to be whipped and to wear the letters “AD” as long as he lived in Plymouth Colony.  In 1642 he left for Gloucester.  In 1646 he married Mary Wilson (“Marie” in the vital records) and is named as a “ship carpenter” on the marriage record.

In Gloucester Thomas Bray bought several plots of land, and lived near Little River.  Today there is a Bray Street and a Bray Hill (overlooks Stage Fort) in Gloucester.  On Bray Street there is a small Bray Cemetery with about 80 graves, and of those there are about 25 BRAY gravestones dating from the early 1800s.   Thomas Bray signed a will in 1672 and left his wife Mary “all my goods, cattle, housing, orchards and lands”.  His will also mentions his sons John, Nathaniel and Thomas, and his daughters, and he left books which meant he was not only literate, but successful.

His son, also named Thomas Bray, my 9th great grandfather, left a will in 1742 that mentioned his children and wife Mary:

"I Thomas Bray, Senior, of Gloucester in the County of Essex in New England, being at this present time in perfect health and memory, through the goodness of God, yet knowing it is appointed for all men to De and set his house in Order before he Dyeth, I do therefore Declare & make known this to be my Last Will & testament in manner & form following.
                "And first I Committ my Spirit unto the hands of God the father of Spirits, and my body to the Grave to be decently Buried by my Executor, and for my Outward Estate & Goods I thus Dispose of them -- Imprimis."
                "I give unto my Dear & loving wife, all my house hold goods to be at her own Disposal, if in case she out live me Besides what I have ordered my executor to Do for her Maintainence while Shee Liveth.
                "I give my eldest son Thomas Bray a Certain Peice of upland Ground, adjoining to land now in his Own hands, be it more or less, as also twenty five pounds passable money or Equivalent to Money to be paid by my Executor, and this to Be in full (with what I have already given him) and to be paid within one year after my Decease by my Executor.
                "I give unto my son John Bray five pounds to be paid by my Execr. (besides what I have already given him in lands) and this to be in full for him. I give unto my son Nathaniel Bray thirty pounds money or equivalent to Money to be paid by my Exectr., and this to be in full for him and to be paid within one year after my Decease by my Executor. The above said John Bray's five pounds to be paid in money or equivalent to money within One year after my Decease as well as the Rest. I give unto my son Moses Bray a certain peice of upland Ground, adjoining to land now in his own hand, be it more or less, as also Twenty eight pounds money or equivalent to money To be paid within one year after my Decease by my Executor. I give unto my daughter Mary Ring fifteen pounds money, or equivalent to money to be paid within One year after my Decease by my Executor. I give unto my Daughter Abigail Woodbury fifteen pounds money or equivalent to money, to be paid within One Year after my Decease by my Executor -- I give unto my son Aaron Bray all my remainder of upland & meadow in Gloucester, which lyeth adJoyning to land in his own possession by a Deed of Gift from me, he performing what is mentioned In said Deed of gift, as also the remainder of my Chattels and a Common right that may be now in my hands. I do also Order & appoint my son Aaron Bray to be my whole & Sole Executor of this my last will & testament.
                "In Witness Whereof I the above said Thomas Bray have hereunto sett my hand and seal this tenth Day of April One thousand and severn hundred and thirty two."
Thomas Bray, Sr. (Seal)
Signed sealed & published in the presence of John Ring, Daniel Ring
her mark
Sarah X Dike.
Ipswich Essex April 11 1742
This will is proved: approved: & allowed: The executor accepted the
trust and gave bond.
Hon. Thomas Berry Judge; Daniel Appleton Register."

Some BRAY sources:

Seven Generations of Brays of Massachusetts, Maine, Wisconsin and Minnesota,  by William M. Bray, 1956 available as a digital version to read online at

“Descendants of Thomas Bray of Gloucester”, The Essex Antiquarian, Volume 11, pages 101 - 104

My BRAY genealogy:

Generation 1:  Thomas Bray, born about 1614 probably in Wales, died 30 November 1691 in Gloucester, Massachusetts.  He married Mary Wilson on 3 May 1646 in Gloucester ( dated “3: 3m 1646” in the vital records).   She was born about 1625 and died 27 March 1707 in Gloucester.  They had nine children born in Gloucester.

Generation 2:  Thomas Bray, born 19 January 1658 in Gloucester and died 1 April 1743; married Mary Unknown and had nine children born in Gloucester.

Generation 3: John Bray, born 7 September 1689 in Gloucester; married on 19 December 1716 in Gloucester to Susanna Woodbury, daughter of Humphrey Woodbury and Anna Window.  She was born 18 September 1695 in Gloucester.  Three children born in Gloucester.

Generation 4:  Humphrey Bray, born 27 March 1728 in Gloucester; married on 22 June 1749 in Gloucester to his third cousin Lydia Woodbury, daughter of Isaac Woodbury and Abigail Herrick.  She was baptized on 27 June 1725 in Beverly and died 14 September 1779 in Gloucester.  Seven children born in Gloucester.

Generation 5: Humphrey Bray, born 18 October 1756 in Gloucester; married on 20 May 1777 in Gloucester to Molly Herrick.  Nine children born in Gloucester.

Generation 6:  Polly Bray, baptized on 17 October 1779 in Gloucester; married on 24 December 1801 in Ipswich to Asa Burnham, son of Westley Burnham and Molly Woodbury.  He was born 9 September 1778 and died 23 May 1850.  Eight children born in Essex, Massachusetts.

Generation 7:  Lydia W. Burnham married Samuel Mears
Generation 8:  Samuel Mears married Sarah Ann Burnham
Generation 9: Sarah Burnham Mears married Joseph Gilman Allen
Generation 10:  Joseph Elmer Allen married Carrie Maude Batchelder
Generation 11: Stanley Elmer Allen married Gertrude Matilda Hitchings (my grandparents)


Heather Wilkinson Rojo, " Surname Saturday ~ BRAY of Gloucester, Massachusetts", Nutfield Genealogy, posted August 22, 2015 ( accessed [access date]).


  1. Yet another cousin connection! Most have been on the lines I share with Bill West, on my paternal grandmother's side. This on is on my maternal grandmother's side and is an ancestor that I haven't spent much time researching. Thanks! My line is Thomas, Thomas, Moses (brother of John).

  2. I come from Thomas Bray Junior :)

  3. Hello Family!
    Thomas is my 12th Great Grandfather :)
    MY line goes ...
    Thomas > Thomas> Nathaniel > Isreal > Daniel > Daniel > Charles > Charles > Edwin > Clara

    Much love to all the distant cousins!

  4. My maternal grandmother was Julia Bray, born on May 8, 1890 in Gloucester. Her father was George D. Bray and her mother was Eva F. Tarr, both born in Gloucester, as well.