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About the study

My interest in Genealogy goes back as far as I can remember.  I am now in my 70's and can remember that as a young child, my father saying to me that he wished he knew more about his father, who had died in 1933, when my father was only 20.

Albert, my Grandfather came over to England as a result of the hostilities during the 1st World War, in which he received injuries, mainly to his lungs, as a result of being gassed whilst in the trenches.  Upon arrival at one of the London stations he was met by a nurse who he later married. (My grandmother)  This must have been quite a marriage as Albert spoke very little English and my gran spoke no French.

When my father was born, he very quickly learnt French and by the age of 5 was acting as translator.

During the 20 years, up until his death, my grandfather said very little about his family in Belgium apart from the fact that he had a sister Antoinette who was a "hunchback" living in Brussels.  

             My father wanted to join the civil service after he left school, but could not due to the fact that he could not supply his fathers birth certificate.  He did not even know in which part of Brussels his father had lived. So he spent the rest of his life knowing very little about his paternal ancestors...

                It was not until I took up the genealogy bug, in my early 20's, and started on the research which was eventually to lead me to connect with a branch of the family still living in  Schaerbeek Brussels. Finding along the way that my grandfather Albert was the youngest of nine children and, as far as I know, the only one to have survived the two world wars...   But who knows...  Is there anyone out there who knows what happened to at least 4 of his siblings who I have yet been unable to trace..... 

Variant names

During my research over the past 50+ years I have only come across one spelling of the name which was a variant of ORYS. This was on one of the earliest documents of marriage written in old Flemish  where the name has a spelling of ORIJS.   I am told that this would have historically been the way of spelling my name in Flemish    similar to the present day dutch.  i.e. IJS  = Flemish for Ice.   The name may have been written that way so that people could pronounce it correctly.

I have not yet however discovered any of my ancestors who resided in the Flemish speaking part of Belgium.  ( All of them back to the mid 1700's lived in a fairly small part of Brussels. )  


Name origin

From English Surname Dictionary


This unusual and interesting name is of Italian, Latin origin, and derives from one of the earliest Roman names, "Horatius". The name is thought to mean something connected with "hora", the Latin for "hour", but the original meaning has been lost. The personal name is best known from Horatius Cocles, who held the bridge over the Tiber against the Etruscan army, as told by Macaulay in "lays of Ancient Rome", and from the great Latin poet "Horace", whose name was Quintus Horatius Flaccus. The first use of the personal name in England was confined to the learned section of society, as in "Oratius Presbiter", recorded in the 1193 Pipe Rolls of Essex, and the surname is rarely found there after until the 17th Century, when the name was re-introduced from Italy as "Orazio" and "Horatio". The modern surname from this source can be found as "Orris(s)", "Oris", and "Or(r)ice". One William Orriss married Ann Warwick at St. Leonard's, Shoreditch, London, on the 18th February 1777. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Richard Oras, which was dated 1312, in the "Essex Feet of Fines", during the reign of King Edward 11, known as "Edward of Caernavon", 1307 - 1327. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.

Name frequency

So far I have traced only 122 persons who have been born with the family name of Orys  / Orijs.    Today there are only about 12 alive in the UK.  about 6 in the United States of America and about 15 that I have discovered in Belgium.

Distribution of the name

See above.....


I have been researching my family since the late 1950's and have now built up a database of over 6250 names covering all of the various sides of my extended family.