A Brief History of The Cory Family Society

The idea of a Cory Family Society was first discussed between Mark Hester and Rev. Jack Cory in 1981 at a meeting of the Western Pennsylvania Association. Five years later, they formed the society. Since then it has become an international organization and is still growing.

In October of 1992, a preliminary meeting was held in Northampton, England. On 17 December 1992, a steering committee was appointed and the Cory Society was formed in England.

A Brief History of the Cory Family in America

The Cory families in America sprang from several men who were among the earliest settlers. Among these were: Giles of Salem Village, John of Southold, John of Roxbury, William of Portsmounth, and Thomas of Chelmsford. For the most part, they were not related. A second wave of Cory families came from Ireland and England during the Irish immigration from 1830 to 1880. We now know that there were three Cory progenitors who settled in America circa 1630-1640 who were the ancestors of the vast majority of Americans who bear the Cory/Corey surname.

Thomas of Chelmsford

One was Thomas Corey of Chelmsford, Massachusetts. Our DNA research shows that he was related to the Cory families in the Northampton area, in particular, the small village of Harpole. Giles Cory of Salem Witchcraft fame, is also from this area. Therefore, two men were related, but that relations is still not fully understood. Christening records from the area suggest that they may have been third cousins, once removed. It is theoretically possible that he could have been from the Bramerton Hall, Norfolk, England line. DNA suggests that he is a descendant of Nicholas Cory (d1551) of Northampton. William had a large family and many male descendants.

William of Portsmouth

Another was William Cory who arrived on Rhode Island as a young child with his father John Cory, his grandmother, Anne (Waulker) Roome, and Anne's second husband, John Roome. They arrived in the Colony at Portsmouth in approximately the year 1638 as immigrants from Bristol. We have discovered William's baptismal certificate in Bristol, the birth records of his father, John, and also his grandfather, John. We know that Cory families were in Bristol as early as the 14th century and their surname had been spelt in a variety of ways, e.g., Cory, Corry, Corye, Coury, Chori, and etc. The given names common among the Bristol Corys suggest a connection with the Cornwall Cory families.

John 1 of Southold

John Cory, the father of William of Portsmouth, disappeared from that colony after December, 1643, probably to escape prosecution for making insulting references about the Governor. Shortly thereafter a John Cory appeared in Southampton, Long Island, and a few years later appeared in the nearby colony at Southold, where he married and raised a large family. For many years, it was reported that John of Southold was the father of William of Portsmounth. There was a strong suspicion based on circumstantial evidence that is described in our newsletter of April, 2000. Our DNA research has subsequently shown that these John Corys have no relationship to each other.

Another theory has been proposed that "the first American progenitor of both the Rhode Island and Long Island Cory families was the same person, John Cory, a sailor who immigrated from Bristol." In fact, John Cory, who settled on Long Island was apparently a weaver. The John Cory who immigrated to Portsmouth with his mother Anne Roome was the son of a sailor, also named John, who lived and died in the Bristol area. Again, our DNA research has subsequently shown that these John Corys have no relationship to each other.

In any case, John (like William) had a large family and many male descendants. Their descendants are spread all over this continent and and together, along with the descendants of Thomas of Chelmsford, constitute the majority of Americans who bear their surname.

Giles of Salem Village

The famous (or infamous) Giles Cory of Salem Village, Massachusetts was another early Cory/Corey immigrant. We have found his birth record in Northampton, England, but he had no male descendants and was not a progenitor of the Cory/Corey surname in America. The Northampton connection, implies that there may be a distant connection of Giles Cory and Thomas of Chelmsford. Christening records from the area suggest that they may have been third cousins, once removed.

Our English Roots

Following are two summaries of the Cory history in England. You will notice that there is some controversy over the origins of the family.

Thomas Wendell Corey supplies the following brief history:

The records state we are of Celtic descent and that the family had come out of Scotland in 1378, when the King of Scotland in person with his troops gave safe passage to the borders of Scotland and England. Sir Robert Corrie/Corry, Laird of Corrie and his wife Lady Sussanne Caryle were viewed as being of King's Blood. They were given safe passage by the King of England and his troops to Cornwall, England with their sons William and John, with Thomas Corrie in control of the lands in Scotland.

Some time later it looks like Robert and his wife went to Norwich, Norfolk, England or a grandson named Robert Corrie/Cory and took over at Bramerton Hall. Some of them changed the spelling to Cory and Corey.

William Cory's line starts out in Cornwall, England. John Corrie's line starts out in Devonshire, England and It seems Robert Corrie/Cory and his wife may of gone to Norfolk, England.

Then later two brothers by the names of John and Thomas Cory set sail from Devonshire, England in 1657/58? They landed at Charlestown, MA. In 1662, they where granted land by the Crown in Chelmsford, MA. Thomas Cory married on Sept. 19, 1665 to Abigail Gould and they had ten Children. John Cory moved to RI or CT and started his family.

There was a second wave of Cory/Corey Families to arrive between 1830 to 1860 because of food shortages and other reason from Ireland. William Cory had some sons who left England for Ireland where they did very well for themselves and had very large families so 100 to 200 years before the problems started to cause the Irish people to leave between 1830 to 1880.

Our DNA results show that both the William and John lines are of Celtic descent, while the Thomas line is of Anglo-Saxon descent.

Mrs. Kathleen B. Cory, FSA Scotland, is a Genealogist who has done considerable research in England and Scotland. In a letter to the Society president, Art Corey, she writes.

CORY and CORRIE are distinct and separate families in spite of spelling variations that people insist on latching on to as ?proof? of them having been from a common root.

CORRIE / CORRI / CORRY is found in George F. Black's "Surnames of Scotland" [pub. The New York Library 1946, 1962 & 1974] the Scottish genealogists "Bible"! and its derivation given as "CORRIE - from the lands of Corrie now included in the parish of Hutton-Corrie, Dumfriesshire"

The first CORRIE that Black mentions is "Hugh de Corrie witnessed a charter of a fishery in Torduf circa 1194 ? 1211". No mention is made at all of any English connection nor is there a CORY spelling.

A couple of years ago I decided to extract every Birth, Marriage and Death entry for CORY from the Scottish Statutory Indexes, which as you know start in 1855. I followed each and every name to a census entry and not one of the families had a Scottish origin. Most were English and a few (with COREY variations) were born in Ireland. I realize this is late, - the 1800s - but it makes no sense that all the early Scottish CORYs upped and went to England!

On another tack, Heraldry, the CORY crest is a griffin on a ducal crown, whereas the CORRIE crest is a cock.

The earliest CORY on our Bramerton tree is ROBERT who "emigrated" from Cornwall and settled at Bramerton, Norfolk circa 1398 and died there 1444. The introduction to our long chart (there is a similar one with the Norwich Record Office) states that the name is CHORI in the Domesday Book but I haven't checked that yet. This information was researched by ROBERT CORY Jr. of Yarmouth, Norfolk (1776 ? 1840)...

I have a lot of collateral lines on our chart but nothing earlier than the first ROBERT who died there in 1444. We still have to establish a link between ROBERT CORY who arrived in Norfolk circa 1398 and Cornwall.

Is that with an "e"?

Many spellings of the Cory family name may be found, for example: Cory, Corey, Coray, Corie, Corry, and Corrie. In her unpublished writings "My Direct Line Cor(e)y Family", Etta Corey Holbrook makes the statement that the Corey name was not always spelled the way it as today and has met with change. (for example, one branch of the John 1 of Southold, LI line had taken on the spelling of "CORAY")

If the Scottish origins of the Cory name are to be believed, then the direct line name changes of our main Corey line change as following CORY, CORRY, CORIE, CORRIE, CURRIE, MacMHURRICH, O'DALY, O'DEA and lastly the given surname in Gaelic was Ua DEAGHAIDH.

Regardless of the spelling, this web site is dedicated to the research and publication of information about these families, their ancestors and descendents.