This long-established surname is of early medieval English origin, and has two distinct possible sources, each with its own history and derivation. Firstly, Ayres may be a patronymic form of "Ayre", itself a nickname for a man who was well known to be the heir to a title or fortune, deriving from the Middle English "eir, eyr", heir (Old French "(h)eir", Latin "heres", heir). One Ralph le Eir was noted in the 1208 Feet of Fines for Essex, and a Richard le Heyre appears in the 1273 Hundred Rolls of Gloucestershire. The second possibility is that Ayres is a patronymic form of the Middle English personal name "Aier, Aer", itself coming from the Olde English pre 7th Century "Ealhhere", a compound of the elements "eal(h)", old, and "heri", army. Robertus filius (son of) Aier was noted in the 1166 Red Book of the Exchequer, and a Robert Aier in the 1201 Pipe Rolls of Shropshire. In the modern idiom the surname has several spelling variations ranging from Ayers, Ayres, Ayris, Ayars and Air(e)s, to Eayrs, Eyres and Eyers, the final "s" indicates the patronymic, and is a reduced form of "son of". John Ayres was a noted penman, who between 1680 and 1700 introduced the Italian hand into England; he published many calligraphic works including "A Tutor to Penmanship", 1698. Symon Ayres, "chirurgeon", aged 48 yrs., who embarked from London on the ship "Increase" bound for New England in April 1635 was one of the earliest recorded namebearers to settle in America. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Henry Ayer, which was dated 1273, in the "Hundred Rolls of Lincolnshire", during the reign of King Edward 1, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. 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.
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