One of the most popular hobbies in the world is that of tracing one's ancestry and this certainly applies to person's with a Rattray connection.
Surname usage started around 1400. The first surnames were based on such things as place of residence, occupation, physical characteristics, nicknames, skin color, etc. Of these, the first is especially important here as many with the surname Rattray were from the Parish, town or district of Rattray.
While "Rattray" is the commonest surname spelling at the present time, the early records have many variants including, in alphabetical order, the following 48: Rateree, Raterree, Ratery, Rathtreff, Ratie, Ratiree, Ratra, Ratray, Ratree, Ratref, Ratrey, Ratri, Ratrie, Ratry, Rattar, Rattaree, Rattarree, Rattaray, Rattarey, Rattarie, Rattary, Ratter, Ratteray, Ratterree, Rattery, Rattie, Rattley, Rattory, Rattra, Rattray, Rattre, Rattree, Rattrey, Rattrie, Rattrix, Rattroy, Rattry, Reatraye, Rhetory, Rothrea, Rothtref, Rothria, Rotref, Rotry, Rottery, Rottrey, Rottry and Ruttery. The variances often depended on the way a particular cleric, or legal person, spelled the name based on the way he heard it pronounced.
The first recorded person in the Rattray Laird line was Alanus de Ratheriff, born abt 1165. Except in the case of persons of note, very little genealogical information is available prior to 1500. The best early sources are peerage books and legal documents. Established churches recording vital records, especially baptism, marriage and burial dates, in their Registers. The latter can be especially helpful if available. Civil registries started after 1850 and continue up to the present. Obituaries can often be found in newspapers published in the last 100 years.
The Clan Rattray Society has been especially interested in helping its members and adherents trace their Rattray connections. Information has been gathered informally for over 50 years and stored in The Clan Rattray Database for over 20 years. As of April, 2011, the Database contained information on around 48,000 individuals with a Rattray connection. The Database runs with Personal Ancestral File (PAF) 5.2.18 software which is available as a free download at htt://www.familysearch.org/. One of the features of this software is that one is able to add detailed notes on a particular individual. This feature is used extensively to record information that has come to hand and to record its source. The Database, thus, differs from the majority of family tree information that is available online as sources are very seldom given elsewhere. The Database information is specifically for the use of those that have a Rattray link. It is not online and is not uploaded as it is very much a work-in-progress, also because some may wish certain details be kept private. Searches and reports continue to be made upon request but with the proviso that the resulting information should not be published or uploaded without the permission of those that have contributed. It is always important to remember that one should not take everything that is in print as being the gospel truth. Also, it is tempting to grab ancestors from family trees that are available online but these trees frequently contain errors and corrections are seldom made.
The Database was put together, and is maintained, by the Clan Rattray Society Genealogist Dr. Charles Bird. He can be reached by post at Box 22, Erskine, Alberta, T0C 1G0, Canada; by email at email@example.com ; or by phone at 1-403-742-0626. No charge is made for the help and reports that are prepared for various folks. It should always be remembered, however, that other projects are underway and that it may not be possible to respond quickly to requests.
If you would like to learn more about your Rattray line contact me as above. I will need to know the earliest Rattray that you know you are descended from and then details of your line down to the present. Full names, plus dates and places of birth, marriage and death are especially helpful in identifying individuals in The Clan Rattray Database.