This interesting Anglo-Gaelic medieval surname, spelt as Hare and Hair, has a number of possible origins. In England the first and most likely origin is from the pre 7th century word "hara" - the hare, and as such it is a nickname for a messenger or fast runner. This is almost certainly the case with the first known recording (see below). Occasionally the name can be topographical or locational, there are several places called Hare. In this case the derivation is from the ancient word "haer", meaning "stony ground", and therefore describing one at such a place. In Scotland and Ireland when the name is not imported from England, it is an anglicized spelling of the surname "O'hir", a nickname meaning the descendant of the fierce one! The very first recording anywhere is 12th Century (see below), whilst an early English example is that of Johannes Hare in the 1379 Poll Tax Rolls for Yorkshire. The surname first appears in Scotland in 1366, William Hare being a burgess of Edinburgh, although in 1430 one Patrick is recorded as Hayre, Hair, and Hare, in the same charter! An interesting namebearer, recorded in the "Dictionary of National Biography", was Sir Nicholas Hare. He was a judge during the reign of King Henry V111, as well as being an M.P. for Lancaster, being knighted in 1537. The first recorded spelling of the family name is believed to be that of Walter le Hare, which was dated 1166, in the Pipe Rolls of the county of Surrey. This was during the reign of King Henry 11, known as "The Builder of Churches", 1154 - 1189. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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