View Full Version : Bray ancestry

14-11-2007, 2:28 PM
I am trying to trace my family tree. I have traced it back to Peter Bray who came to USA about 1840. What I have been able to find is He was in Bedfordshire CO, Bedford, England, born 1718. His father was William and Grandfather Lewis. I am not sure of the facts just what I have found on genealogy sites I have been on. I would appreciate any help I can get on trying to trace My tree down.

14-11-2007, 2:41 PM
Use what you find on web-sites as a guide, try to verify information for yourself. Sometimes others have looked at infromation and misinterpreted it, it would be a shame for you to then continue that research and find that you've been folllowing the wrong line for a while.

The basic source that you will need is a parish register for wherever in Bedford your chap came from. If you are not in England, or if you are in England and not able to get to Bedford; you might try mormon church (LDS) record centres, where you can hire copies of registers on film. If parish registers are not available, you may be able to get hold of the annual copy that was made, this is known as either the Archdeacon's, or Bishop's Transcript and is a good alternative.

Lastly, you refer to Bedfordshrie CO; which makes me think you are not in the UK. The title Bedfordshire tells you it is a county, and so you do not need to include CO or County afterwards.

Try one of the online surnames lists to see if anyone else is resarching your name
They may have done the work for you and be able to verify what they have found.

GENUKI is always a good starting point for research in the UK

14-11-2007, 10:12 PM
Hats off to you Larry, If he was born 1718 then he was well old when he hit the States in 1840, can you confirm dates please ? & also do you know what part of Bedfordshire he was from ? cheers John

15-11-2007, 11:46 AM
Howdy John
I want to thank you for seeing my mistake! I went back and checked other web site and something didn't add up. Peter died in 1810 in North Carolina so don't believe he came to U.S. in 1840. I will have to recheck that out. I am making a guess was 1740 but will back track to ck out info. As for Bedford all I had was Bedfordshire Co, Bedford, England. Was glad to hear from you and hope to hear again.

15-11-2007, 11:54 AM
Howdy Geoffers
Thank you for your help! I really appreciate it.

16-11-2007, 8:12 AM
Hi Larry

Why do you think he was from Bedfordshire? I haven't found one online tree that gives a birthplace - some are not even sure that he was necessarily from England. As no-one in the USA seems to know where he was from any detail of his father and grandfather has to be pure speculation.

In any event virtually all baptisms pre 1812 in Bedfordshire have been extracted onto the IGI and there's no Peter Bray in Bedfordshire, nor is there a Lewis Bray. Most of the Brays at this time seem to have come from Cornwall, on the southwest tip of England, about as far away from Bedfordshire as you can get in England. One of the boards included a message that he may have come from Cornwall, but again this seems like speculation.

Good hunting


16-11-2007, 12:13 PM
Why do you think he was from Bedfordshire? I haven't found one online tree that gives a birthplace - some are not even sure that he was necessarily from England.

I totally agree about taking online sources with a big pinch of salt.........but, browsing the 1841 census shows a few entries in North Bedfordshire; the 1861 census has a reasonable scattering of hits, again in the north of the county. So there is just a possibility that this might be worth following, if only to show that the chap didn't come from there.

But it is best to start in America and see if anything exists to show where Peter Bray came from - census returns, naturalization papers, obituaries, newspaper clippings, etc. When he emigrated was he recently married? Did he have any children who were born in England after 1837?.......One of my mob who emigrated over there fought in the Civil War and in amongst his pension papers was his baptismal certificate from Norfolk - odd things can turn up.

If Peter Bray did emigrate after 1834, there's a good chance he did so under the scheme introduced as a result of the Poor Law Amendment Act and the records held can be very useful. Have a browse through The National Archives (TNA) research guides
scroll down to 'E' and look at the two links concerned with 'Emigration'.

Are there any other Peter Bray's in the 1841 or 1851 census who may be related (cousins may have the same name, he may be named after his dad who stayed in England). Try the GRO index - Could your Peter Bray be the chap who married at East Stonehouse in 1838?

As David has hinted - Do keep an open mind and treat information online with some degree of sceptism unless it is backed up by valid source references. A valid source reference is not the name of the person who sent you a gedcom file

16-11-2007, 2:05 PM
Geoffers, the 1840 emigration date was a typo; it should have been 1740. And that 100 years makes a world of difference!

Odd, I don't recall you at my secretarial scool!


16-11-2007, 3:56 PM
Geoffers, the 1840 emigration date was a typo; it should have been 1740. And that 100 years makes a world of difference!

Oops! - Very true. In that case, anything in P W Coldham's books which might help with a date?

The research guide on TNA's site under 'Emigration' is still valid.

Is it known which side the family was on in the war of Independence?

Was this a landed family? PCC wills on documentsonline again show a small cluster of records in Beds, Northants and Cambs.