Wray family pay tribute to pioneering ancestors in Albany

Sarah MakseAlbany Advertiser
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Descendants of John and Celia Wray gather at the newly restored grave in Albany.
Camera IconDescendants of John and Celia Wray gather at the newly restored grave in Albany. Credit: Sarah Makse/ Albany Advertiser

The memory of an Albany settler family is set to stand the test of time after their descendants came together from across WA to restore a gravestone that dates back more than a century.

On a trip to Albany nearly two years ago, Perth man David Wray and his wife, Corinne, discovered the grave commemorating John and Celia Wray at Albany’s Memorial Park Cemetery had been badly damaged.

This set in motion a plan to preserve John and Celia’s legacy, which has grown to include a sprawling family tree with descendants scattered across the Great Southern, the South West and the metropolitan area.

After marrying in England in 1841, John and Celia Wray decided to settle in New Zealand, but re-set their course for Albany after the New Zealand Wars.

They arrived at Princess Royal Harbour on the Goldseeker in 1854.

The grave of John and Celia Wray at Albany’s Memorial Park Cemetery.
Camera IconThe grave of John and Celia Wray at Albany’s Memorial Park Cemetery. Credit: Sarah Makse/ Albany Advertiser

David Wray said his predecessors were among the town's first 200 settler families, and had eight children.

Mr Wray had a tailoring business, was a founder of the local Wesleyan Church, and was Albany’s second town clerk, responsible for keeping some of the first records of WA’s first European settlement.

The family also restored the bush grave of Ernest Wray — grandson of John and Celia — about 70km east of Albany in Warriup, which had survived nearly 150 years in the bush.

Descendants of the Wray family gathered in Albany at the weekend to celebrate and discover their family’s historic roots in the Great Southern.

“We are really rapt that all of my family have been able to come down here in the first instance and that this has brought together a long lost branch of our family,” David Wray said.

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