This interesting surname has two origins; firstly, it may be of Old French origin, a patronymic of the name Ayer, 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", a development of the Old French "(h)eir" meaning heir. Secondly, it may be a Scottish name of Old Norse origin, a locational surname from a place called Ayr in South West Scotland, deriving from the Old Norse "eyrr" meaning tongue of land, gravelly bank, plus the suffix "s" denoting of "the place". The surname dates back to the early 13th Century (see below), and early recordings include; Ralph le Eir (1208) in the Feet of Fines of Essex, and Reginald of Ayr (1287), clerk in the town of Ayr. Variations in the surname include Ayres, Ayris, Ayers, Aiers, Airs, Eaires, Eayrs, Eyers, and Eyres. Church Records list the christening of Jane, daughter of John and Hanna Eayres, on September 6th 1705 at St. Mary Whitechapel, Stepney, and the marriage of John Ayers to Elizabeth McKay, on May 5th 1789 in Edinburgh Parish, Edinburgh. A Coat of Arms granted to the family is red, three silver doves close, gold beaked and membered. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert Aier, which was dated 1201, in the "Pipe Rolls of Shropshire", during the reign of King John, known as "Lackland", 1199 - 1216. 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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