This long-established surname is of early medieval English origin, and belongs to that sizeable group of European surnames that were gradually created from the habitual use of nicknames. These nicknames were originally given with reference to a variety of personal characteristics, such as mental and moral attributes, and to habits of dress and behaviour. The derivation, in this instance, is from the Middle English "eir, eyr", heir (Old French "heir, Latin "heres"), used to denote someone who was well known to be the heir to a title or fortune.Early examples of the surname are widespread, and include: Robertus Heres (Cambridgeshire, 1220); Richard le Heyer (Gloucestershire, 1274); Adam le Hayre (Yorkshire, 1275); Robert le Heir (Oxfordshire, 1281); and William Hoyre (Suffolk, 1302). In the modern idiom the name is variously spelt Hayer, Heyer and Hoyer. Recordings of Hayer from London Church Registers include: the christening of Thomas Hayer at St. Mary le Bow, on September 30th 1550, and the christening of Jean, son of Claude Hayer and Ester Nortier, at Wheeler Street French Huguenot Church, Spitalfields, on March 31st 1728, the latter entry showing that in some instances, Hayer was re-introduced into England by French Huguenot refugees fleeing religious persecution in their own country from the late 16th Century on. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Ralph le Eir, which was dated 1208, in the "Feet of Fines of Essex", 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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