The surname of WESTRAY was a locational name 'the dweller at the west of the village or town'. Local names usually denoted where a man held his land, and indicated where he actually lived. Early records of the name mention Edwin de Westeway, listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Local names find their origins in the villages, towns and areas where people were born, or from the land they owned. In the Middle Ages, a man was identified by his place of birth and almost every city, town and village existing in medieval times has originated one or more family names. Anyone leaving his birthplace would be known to new friends and neighbours by the name of his former residence, his birthplace, or the land he owned. The rise of surnames, according to the accepted theory, was due to the Norman Conquest of 1066 when Old English personal-names were rapidly superseded by the new christian names introduced by the Normans. Of these, only a few were really popular and in the 12th century this scarcity of christian names led to the increasing use of surnames to distinguish the numerous individuals of the same name. Some Normans had hereditary surnames before they came to England, but there is evidence that surnames would have developed in England even had there been no Norman Conquest. The development of the feudal system made it essential that the king should know exactly what service each person owed. Payments to and by the exchequer required that debtors and creditors should be particularized, and it became official that each individual acquired exact identification. Later instances of the name include Joane Westra who was buried at St. Peter, Cornhill, London in the year 1549, and Richard Westray and Joanne Fuller were married at St. Antholin London in the year 1552. Edward Hill wed Ellen Westwraye in London in the year 1582. John Westwray of County Essex (gentleman) registered at the University of Oxford in 1604. Ralph Sauuidge and Elizabeth Westraie were married at St. James's, Clerkenwell, London in 1666.
In Scotland the name is from the lands of Westray in the island of Westray, Orkney. Michael de Westray, knight, witnessed a charter by Henry de St. Clair, earl of Orkney in 1391.
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