This unusual surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a dialectal variation of the locational surname Hayhurst, from the place so named in the parish of Ribchester, Lancashire. The derivation of the placename is from the Olde English pre 7th Century "hoeg", meaning "enclosure", and "hyrst", a hillock or knoll, especially a wooded hill. Locational surnames, such as this, were usually acquired by a local landowner, or by the lord of the manor, and especially by those former inhabitants of a place who had moved to another area, usually in search of work, and were thereafter best identified by the name of their birthplace. Recordings from London Church Registers include: the christening of Anne, daughter of Jerome and Christian Ayerst, on August 13th 1617, at St. Dunstan's, Stepney, and the marriage of William Ayerst and Mary Southerne on October 23rd 1628, at St. Vedast, Foster Lane and St. Michael Le Querne. The family Coat of Arms is a silver shield, on a blue bend engrailed a gold sun in chief, and an eagle wings elevated of the field in base; in the sinister chief point a red cross flory. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Thomas de Heyhurst, which was dated 1246, witness in the "Assize Court Rolls of Lancashire", during the reign of King Henry 111, known as "The Frenchman", 1216 - 1272. 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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