Recorded as Lear, Leyre, Leare, and Leere and others, this is an early English surname. It is locational from a place in the county of Leicestershire called Leire. Recorded in the famous Domesday Book of 1086, and in the Episcopal Registers of that county in 1227, it derives from the word 'legra', an Olde British river name whose meaning is obscure. The surname is medieval and amongst the earliest recorded in the latter half of the13th century (see below). These early recordings include examples such as William de Leyre in the registers of the city of London in 1292. Amongst the early church register recordings from the time of King Edward V1th of England (1547 - 1554), we have that on December 15th 1552, of Elizabeth Lear who was christened at St. Mary Magdalene, Bermondsey, whilst on November 9th 1583, Stephen Leare and Joan Merrimas were married at Knossington, in the county of Leicestershire. Edward Lear, (1812 - 1888) was an artist and author who gave lessons in drawing to Queen Victoria and published his "Book of Nonsense" in 1846. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William de Leyre. This was dated 1273, in the "Hundred Rolls of Leicestershire", during the reign of King Edward 1st of England and known to history as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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