Recorded in the spellings of Kear, Kears, Keer and Keers, this unusual surname is of pre 7th century Anglo-Saxon origin. It is an occupational surname meaning a key-smith, or a maker of keys. The derivation is from the Old English pre 7th Century word "caeg", meaning key, with the agent suffix "er", implying a maker or worker. The first recording of the name occurs in the Northumberland Pipe Rolls of 1178, when Adam le cheigher, is so recorded. The later surname development includes examples such as: Richard le Kayer of London in the year 1287, William le Keer, in the Pipe Rolls of the county of Leicestershire in 1303, and Richard Kere of Essex in 1322. A later example of the recordings taken from an early surviving church register is that of the marriage in Yorkshire of John Keers and Jane Hitching on June 4th 1723, at the village known as Barnby Dun. Occupational surnames were not at first hereditary. They only became so when the son or sometimes the grandson, continued in the family tradition. Surnames became necessary about the time in history called the Medieval Period. At this time governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was often 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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