This interesting and uncommon name has two possible origins, both French and introduced into England by the Normans after the Conquest of 1066. The first and most likely for modern-day bearers of the name is derived from the Norman personal name 'Raher', an adoption of a Germanic name composed of the elements 'rad', counsel, advice, and 'heri, hari', army. Interestingly, the personal name is first recorded in the 'History of St. Bartholomew's Hospital' in 1137 as 'Raher', which was the name of the founder of the hospital. The second possible origin of the modern surname, first recorded in the 13th Century, is from an occupational name for a barber, derived from the Old French 'raier', barber, a derivative of 'rere', to shave, from the Latin 'radere'. The marriage of Rychard Rayer and Margaret Smyth was recorded on September 4th 1546 at St. Margaret's, Westminster, London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Ralph Raher, which was dated 1275, The Berkshire Hundred Rolls, during the reign of King Edward 1, 'The Hammer of the Scots', 1272-1307. 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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