Recorded as Irish, Ireland and the rare dialectal Ierland, this surname can best be described as English but of Irish origins! In ancient times it was an ethnic name for an immigrant from Ireland or possibly Scotland or the Isle of Man, the derivation being from the Olde English pre 7th century word "Iraland", so called from the genitive case of "Iras", meaning Irishman, and "land", territory. Early examples of the surname include: William le Hyreis of the county of Suffolk in 1227, Robert de Irlonde in the Subsidy Rolls of Sussex for 1327, and Robert le Irish in the Assize Court rolls of Staffordshire in 1356. As Ierland the greatest concentration of later recordings is in the county of Lancashire perhaps commencing with John Ierland of Barwick on October 13th 1623. The surname was widely recorded in the Poll Tax Returns of the county of Yorkshire in 1379, whilst a later entry was that of Samuell Ireland, aged 32. He was an early emigrant to the new English colonies of America, and together with his wife, Marie, and daughter, Martha, he embarked from the port of London on the aptly named ship "Increase," bound for Virgina in April 1635. Bearers of the name resident in Ireland descended from early emigrants from Ireland, who then in the course of time, returned to the land of their forefathers. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Richard Ireis of Shropshire, in the pipe rolls of that English county in the year 1169. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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