Recorded in a number of spelling forms including Byars, Byers, Byre, Byres, Bier, Bierling, Bierman, Biers and Buyers, this is an English and German, topographical or occupational surname. It derives from the word pre 7th century word "byr", meaning a cattle dairy, and is one of a group of surnames which originate from working or living on a farm. These include Bull, Heffer, Stott, and Palfrey, all relate to the keeping of livestock, the prime agricultural function of the pre-Norman period before 1066. Perhaps not surprisingly given the importance of the occupation, this is one of the earliest of all recorded hereditary surnames, and it is also perhaps not surprising that it was in the cattle breeding regions of the Fens and the West Country, where originally the surname was most prevalent. There is also a possibility that in some cases the surname may have descended from an Olde English personal name "Bye", of unproven meaning. This is suggested by the recording of Thomas filius Bye of Cambridge, in the Hundred Rolls of the year 1279. Other early examples of the name recording include Rudolf Bierman of Eblingen, Germany, in the year 1290, John Attebey also in the same Hundred Rolls of Cambridge, William en le By of Somerset in 1327 and Constanz Bierling of Sachsenried in 1451. The first known recording is believed to be that of Hugo de la Bye, a witness at the Assize Courts of Somerset, in the year 1243. This was during the reign of King Henry 111 of England, 1216 - 1272.
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