This interesting name is of Norman-French and early medieval English origin, and is one of the variant forms of the more familiar name Ayer, which is a "nickname" surname for a man who was well known to be the heir to a title or a fortune. The name derives from the Middle English "eir, eyr", heir, itself from the Old French "eir, heir", from the Latin "heres", heir. Occasionally, the surname may derive from a personal name, as in Robertus filius Aier (1166, London). The development of the surname includes: Ralph le Eir (1208, Essex); Richard le Heyer (1274, Gloucestershire); Henry le Eyer (1275, Oxfordshire); and Robert le Heir (1287, ibid.). The modern surname can be found recorded as Ayer, Eyer, Eyre, Hair, Haire, Hayer and Heyer. One John Eyre married Elizabeth Ellinworth at St. Botoloph's, Bishopgate, London, on November 9th 1587. Edward Eyre (1815 - 1901), the Australian explorer after whom Lake Eyre was named, later became governor of New Zealand and then of Jamaica. He was born in Hornsea, Yorkshire, and emigrated to Australia, aged 17 yrs. 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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