Recorded in several spellings as shown below some quite rare, this is an English and usually north county surname with a dash of pre 7th century Norse-Viking origin. It is chiefly recorded in Lancashire, Cumberland, Northumberland, Durham and Yorkshire, reflecting the dense settlement of Scandinavian peoples in those areas. The surname is locational, from places such as Aira Beck or Aira Force near Ullswater in Cumberland, or the ReiverAire in West Yorkshoire or some minor place named from the word "eyrara", meaning a gravel-bank or river. Locational surnames were used particularly as a means of identification by those who left their birthplace to settle elsewhere, and regional dialectal differences as well as varying standards of literacy frequently led to the formation of variant forms of the original name. In this instance, the modern surname forms range from Aire, Airey, Airy, Ayre, Aery, to Erie, Eyre, Errey, Earie and Earey. Early examples of recordings include Clemens Erie of Lancashire in 1576; Robert Erye also of Lancashire in 1584, Thomas Aire of Cumberland in 1591, and William Earee in the city of London in1685. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert de Hayra. This was dated 1301, in the "Inquisitiones Post Mortem" of Lancashire but for Westmoreland, during the reign of King Edward 1st. He was known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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