Ayers Surname Name Meaning, Origin, History, & Etymology
The last Ayers is derivative, or possible patronymic (descendant of) of the English surname Ayer or Ayre, a name which derives from the Middle English word eir or eyer, meaning “heir”, or the Old French eir or heir, ultimately from the Latin word heres. It is thought to have denoted a person who was known to be an heir to a large property or estate in the local area. A second possible origin theory is that this surname developed as a patronymic form on the personal (first) name Aier or Aer, derived from the Olde English name Ealhhere, consisting of the elements ealh, meaning “old”, and heri, meaning “army”.
The family had a strong presented in Derbyshire, Wiltshire, and Shopshire. Evelyn Phillip Shirley states the following in her 1866 book titled The Noble and Gentle Men of England: “The Eyres appear as witnesses to charters in the Peak of Derbyshire in the remotest period to which private charters ascend. The first of the name known is William le Eyre, of Hope, in the reign of Henry III”.
It is also believed they were established in Ayrshire in southwestern Scotland, which is another possible (third) origin theory of the family. William Arthur stated the following in regard to this line of thought: “It may come from Jar, west—the course in which the river runs; or Air, slaughter, the place of battle. The Celtic Aer, and the Welsh Awyr, signify, radically, to open, expand or flow clearly; to shoot or radiate”.
A fourth and final theory is offered by Henry Barber in his 1903 book titled British Family Names: “From the Flemish, Eyer, Eyers; a personal name”.
In his 1857 book, An Etymological Dictionary of Family and Christian Names, William Arthur states offers the following legend: “The first of this family was named Truelove, one of the followers of William the Conqueror. At the battle of Hastings, Duke William was flung from his horse, and his helmet beaten into his face, which Truelove observing, pulled off, and horsed him again. The duke told him 'Thou shalt hereafter from Truelove be called Eyre (or Air), because thou hast given me the air I breathe. ' After the battle, the Duke, on inquiry respecting him, found him severely wounded (his leg and thigh having been struck off); he ordered him the utmost care, and on his recovery, gave him lands in Derby, in reward for his services, and the leg and thigh in armor, cut off, for his crest; an honorary badge yet worn by all the Eyres in England”. I have identified two Ayers family mottos: 1) “Laeto aere florent” (They flourish in the glad air) and 2) “Lighter than air”.
Surname Spelling variants
Spelling or names with similar etymologies include Ayer, Ayre, Ayres, Ayris, Ayar, Ayars, Eayrs, Eyre, Heyre, Eyers, Airres, Eyres, Eayers, Ayeres, and others.
Early Bearers of the Ayers Surname
Robertus filius (son of) Aier was documented in the Red Book of the Exchequer in 1166 AD. Robert Aier was documented in the Pipe Rolls of Shropshire in 1201 AD. Ralph le Eir was documented in the Feet of Fines of Essex, England in 1208 AD. The Hundred Rolls of 1273 AD, a census of Wales and England, known in Latin as Rotuli Hundredorum lists three bearers of this surname: John filius Aer (Salop), Henry Ayer (Lincolnshire), and Richard le Heyre (Gloucestershire). Reginald Ayr was the Clerk of Ayr, Scotland in 1287 AD. Albinus Ayr received a charter of lands in Scotland from King Robert the Bruce in 1315 AD. Robert Airres was documented in Siministoun in 1692 AD.
Popularity & Geographic Distribution
The last name Ayers ranks 812th in popularity in the United Status as of the 2000 Census. The name ranks particularly high in the following four states: Virginia (345th), West Virginia (387th), Tennessee (398th), and Georgia (441st).
The surname Ayers frequency/commonness ranks as follows in the British Isles: England (3,243rd), Scotland (15,445th), Wales (2,515th), Ireland (9,929th) and Northern Ireland (15,263). In England, it ranks highest in counties East Riding of Yorkshire and Lincolnshire. In Scotland, the surname ranks highest in South Ayrshire. In Ireland, it ranks highest in Munster. In Wales, it ranks highest in Carmarthenshire.
The name is also present throughout the remainder English speaking world: Canada (4,017th), New Zealand (1,837th), Australia (3,742nd), and South Africa (25,048th).
Ayers Family Tree & Ayers Genealogy
The first known ancestor or progenitor of this family is considered to be Humphredus Le Heyr, who was born in Wiltshire, England in 1108 AD. He married Galecia Foljambe and had a son with her named Truelove. Truelove Le Heyre or Le Heyr was born in Bromham, Wiltshire, England in 1135 AD. Legend has it that he was with William the Conqueror during his Norman Invasion of England, and when the King fell off of his horse and his armor was suffocating him, Truelove picked him up and saved him, where upon the king named him Ayers and gifted him land.
However, in reality, it is believed Truelove was a Crusader who accompanied King Richard the Lionheart during the Third Crusade. Truelove had a son named Humphrey Le Heyr, Knight, who was born in Bromham, Wiltshire, England before 1150 AD. It is said that “He was a Knight of William the Conqueror and fought at the battle of Hastings, 1066, where he lost one of his legs”. He had a son named Nicolas Le Heyre who was born in Bremhill, Wiltshire, c. 1187 AD. He had a son named Humphrey Le Heyr who was born in Bromham, Wiltshire c. 1200 AD. Geni.com states the following in regard to him: “In the elaborate history of the great family of Eyre of Wiltshire given in Hoare's MODERN WILTS, the earliest mention is Humphrey Le Heyr, of Bromham, Wilts, who went with Richard I to the Holy Land. His wife, Gillicia, made a grant of land to her younger son, Nicholas le Heyr. This grant and the confirmation are quoted in the visitations of Wiltshire”. The lineage continues as follows:
Galfridus Le Heyr (born in Bromham, England, 1250-1275)
Galfridus Le Heyr I (born c. 1280 AD)
John Le Eyre or Le Heyre (born in Bromham, England, c. 1325-1347)
Simon Eyre or Eyer (born in Wedhampton, Wiltshire, England 1364-1433, married Eleanor, heirss of John Crooke of Urchfont)
Thomas Eyre or Ayer (born in Wedhampton, c. 1399-1432)
William Eyre, Ayer, or Eyre (born in Wedhampton, England c. 1434-1500)
Williams son, John Ayers or John Eyre, was born in Wedhampton, Urchfont, Wiltshire, England in 1500 AD. He married several times and had the following issue: Joanna, Ellin, Alice, Jane, Margaret, Anne, Editha, John, Robert, Christopher, William, John and Richard. His son, Robert Ayers or Robert Eyre Esq., was born in Wedhampton, England in 1519. He was a mayor and Member of Parliament. He had issue as follows: Thomas, John, Robert, and Melior. His son, Thomas Eyre, Ayers, or Ayer, was an Esquire and Member of Parliament born in Sailsbury, Wiltshire, England in 1549 AD. He had issue as follows: Robert, Melior, Lyonell, Catherine, Giles, John Sr., Rebecca, William, Jane, Elizabeth, Elynor, Anne, and Frances.
His son, John Ayers Sr., was born in Salisbury, Wiltshire in 1582 AD. He was a well to do grocer. In 1635, he sailed aboard the James to New England and landed in New Hampshire. He married Hannah, daughter of Captain John Webb Evered Jr., and had issue with her as follows: Captain John, Robert, Thomas, Rebecca, Cornet, Obadiah, Mary, Hannah, Nathaniel, Samuel, and Elizabeth. Six of his sons are discussed as follows:
1) Captain John Ayers was born in England in 1616. He was a ship Capitan by trade. He married three times: Susannah, daughter of Mark Symonds, Sarah, daughter of John Williams IV, and Mary. He was father of the following children: Alexander, John, Samuel, Zachariah, Susanna, Edward, Joseph, Sarah, Mark, and Nathaniel
2) Robert Ayers was born in Ogbourne St. George, Wiltshire, England in 1625. He married Elizabeth, daughter of Henry Palmer and Elizabeth Parker, and had issue with her as follows: Robert, Elizabeth, Captain Samuel, Mehitable, Timothy, Hannah, Mary, James, and Elizabeth.
3) Thomas Ayers was born in Haverhill, Massachusetts c. 1626. He married Elizabeth, daughter of John Hutchins of Newbury and Haverhill, and had issue with her as follows: John, Elizabeth, Mary, Love, Thomas, Samuel, and others.
4) Peter Ayer was born in Haverhill, Massachusetts in 1633. He married Hannah, daughter of William Allen of Salisbury, and had issue with her as follows: Ruth, Hannah, Abigail, Mary, Martha, Lieutenant Samuel, William, Rachel, and Ebenezer.
5) Obadiah Ayres was born in Salisbury, Massachusetts in 1635. He married Hannah, daughter of Captain John Pyke, and had issue with her as follows: John, Thomas, Anson, Samuel, Obadiah Jr., Joseph, Mary, Sarah, Hannah, and Robert.
6) Nathaniel Ayer was born in Salisbury, Massachusetts in 1655. He married Tamesin, daughter of John Treloar, and had issue with her as follows: Elizabeth, Nathaniel, Obadiah, Ruth, Benjamin, Mary, Hannah, and others.
Marriages of Ayers
1) John Ayers married Mary Hallmark in Cheshire, England in May 1745
2) Alice Ayers married William Mason in South Luffeham, Rutland, England in May 1791
3) Peter Ayers married Ellen Taylor in Cheshire, England in June 1744
4) Benjamin Ayers married Elizabeth Jarvis in Leicestershire, England in April 1754
5) Mary Ayers married William Weeks of Barham, Kent, England in April 1789
6) James Ayers married Elizabeth Fletcher in Yoxall, Staffordshire, England in May 1788
7) William Ayers married Tabitha Johnson in Surry, North Carolina in June 1795
8) Charles Ayers married Mary Hitt in Fauquier County, Virginia in April 1778
9) Timothy Ayers married Betsy S. Burnham in Parsonsfield, York, Maine in March 1795
10) Mary Ayers married William Weeks in Kittery, Maine in October 1743
11) John Ayers married Patty Allen in Manchester, Massachusetts in September 1787
12) Jabez Ayers married Persis Stewart in Marlboro, Massachusetts in May 1766
Early American and New World Settlers
Some of the earliest settlers in colonial America bearing this name include:
1) Simon Ayers, age 48, came to Boston, Massachusetts in 1635
2) Dorothy Ayers, age 38, came to Boston, Massachusetts in 1635
3) Mary Ayers, age 15, came to Boston, Massachusetts in 1635
4) Rebecca Ayers, age 9, came to Boston, Massachusetts in 1635
5) Christian Ayers, age 7, came to Boston, Massachusetts in 1635
6) Anna Ayers, age 5, came to Boston, Massachusetts in 1635
7) Benjamin Ayers, age 3, came to Boston, Massachusetts in 1635
8) Sarah Ayers, age 3 or 12, came to Boston, Massachusetts in 1635
9) Thomas Ayers, age unknown, came to Boston, Massachusetts in 1635
10) Samuel Ayers, age 15, came to New England in 1637
11) John Ayers came to Salisbury, Massachusetts in 1640
12) William Ayers came to Maryland in 1651
13) Henry Ayers came to Rhode Island in 1655
14) Robert Ayers came to Rhode Island in 1664
15) Alice Ayers came to Virginia in 1667
16) Betty Ayers came to Virginia in 1674
17) John Ayers came to Portsmouth, New Hampshire in 1688
18) William Ayers came to Portsmouth, New Hampshire in 1706
19) William Ayers came to New Hampshire in 1728
20) Margaret Ayers came to New Hampshire in 1728
Several thousand members of the Ayers family came to the United States through Ellis Island, during the nineteenth century, including:
1) Joseph Ayers came from England aboard the Roscuis in 1842
2) Margaret Ayers came from Ireland aboard the Alaska in 1884
3) John Ayers came from Kilkenny, Ireland aboard the Cameronia in 1912
4) John Ayers came from England aboard the New York in 1906
5) Barbara Antrim came from Antrim aboard the Furnessia in 1905
6) Amy Ayers came from England aboard the Majestic in 1891
7) Arthur Ayers came from Plymouth, England aboard the Adriatic in 1909
8) Elizabeth Ayers came from Great Britain aboard the Cosmo in 1827
9) Isabella Ayers came from England aboard the Roscuis in 1842
10) Alfred Harold Ayers came from London, England aboard the Oceanic in 1903
11) William Henry Ayers came from Southampton aboard the Philadelphia in 1903
12) Clinton P. Ayers came from Belfast aboard the Teutonic in 1903
Some of the earliest settlers in Canada bearing this name include:
1) Patrick Ayers, age 72, came to Prince Edward Island c. 1741
2) Daniel Ayers came to Quebec in 1784
3) John Ayers came in 1817
4) Mary Ayers came to Prince Edward Island in 1830
Some of the earliest settlers in Australia bearing this name include:
1) Samuel Ayers came from Suffolk, England aboard the Capitan Cook in 1833
2) Samuel Ayers came from Devon, England aboard the Henry Tanner in 1834
3) George Ayers came from England to Sydney aboard the Wonga Wonga in 1855
4) James S. Ayers came from Ireland to Sydney aboard the Governor General in 1854
5) Frances Ayers came to New South Wales aboard the Lady McDonald in 1860
6) Robert Ayers came to New South Wales aboard the Lady McDonald in 1860
7) John Ayers came to Sydney aboard the Lord Ashley in 1861
Some of the earliest settlers in New Zealand bearing this name include:
1) Minnie Ayers came to Wellington aboard the Star of India in 1874
2) William, Elizabeth, George, and Ann Ayers came to Canterbury aboard the Tintern Abbey in 1875
There are hundreds of notable people with the Ayers surname. This page will mention a handful. Famous people with this last name include:
1) Sir Henry Ayers (1821-1897) was the 8th Premier of South Australia from 1863-1873, born in Portsea, Portsmouth, Hampshire, England
2) Aaron Ayers (1836-1900) was the 14th Mayor of Christchurch, New Zealand from 1885-1887, born in Gloucester, England
3) Edward Lynn Ayers (1953) was the President of the University of Richmond from 2007-2015
4) John Ayers (1953-1995) was an offensive lineman in the NFL who played for the San Francisco 49thers and Denver Broncos from 1977-1987, born in Carrizo Springs, Texas
5) Michael Ayers (1965) was a British boxer nicknamed “Shaka” who was the IBO Lightweight Champion from 1999-2001, born in London, England
6) Thomas G. Ayers (1915-2007) was an American businessman who was President (1964-1980) and CEO (1973-1980) of Commonwealth Edison, born in Detroit, Michigan
7) Roy Elmer Ayers (1882-1955) was an American politician who served in the US House of Representatives for Montana from 1933-1937 and Governor of Montana from 1937-1941
8) John G. K. Ayers (1837-1913) was a Union Army soldier during the American Civil War who was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions at the Siege of Vicksburg in 1863, born in Washtenaw County, Michigan
9) Kevin Ayers (1944-2013) was an English singer-songwriter considered to be very influential in the English psychedelic genre, born in Herne Bay, Kent, England
10) Richard Bache “Dick” Ayers (1924-2014) was an American cartoonist and comic book artist who worked during the Silver Age of Comics, born in Ossing, New Uork
Ayers America Civil War Veterans
There were several soldiers with the last name Ayers who served in the American Civil War, including the following:
1) Jonathan D. Ayers of the 34th Regiment Indiana Infantry (Union)
2) Jeremiah Ayers of the 81st Regiment Pennsylvania Infantry (Union)
3) Benjamin F. Ayers of the 12th Regiment Massachusetts Infantry (Union)
4) Amos T. Ayers of the 10th Regiment Michigan Cavalry (Union)
5) Burge T. Ayers of the 168th Regiment Ohio Infantry(Union)
6) Justice (or Justin) Ayers of the 15th Regiment Kansas Cavalry (Union)
7) Alexander M. Ayers of the 125th Regiment Illinois Infantry (Union)
8) Joshua G. Ayers of the 17th Regiment North Carolina Infantry (Confederate)
9) Thomas W. Ayers of 21st Regiment South Carolina Infantry (Confederate)
10) Thomas Ayers of the 4th Regiment Tennessee Cavalry (Confederate)
11) Joseph S. Ayers of the 40th Regiment Georgia Infantry (Confederate)
12) Andrew Ayers of the 4th Regiment Texas Cavalry (Confederate)
13) Wilson Ayers of the 22nd Regiment Alabama Infantry (Confederate)
14) Caleb Ayers of Farris’ Battery Missouri Light Artillery (Confederate)
Ayers America Revolution Veterans
There were several soldiers with the last name Ayers who served in the Revolutionary War, including the following:
1) John Ayers of Connecticut
2) Private John Ayers of Massachusetts
3) Corporal Joseph Ayers of New Hampshire
4) Levi Ayers of New Hampshire
5) Sergeant Mark Ayers of New Hampshire
6) Corporal Nathan Ayers of Massachusetts
7) Samuel Ayers of New Hampshire
8) Private Thomas Ayers of New Hampshire
9) Timothy Ayers of Connecticut
10) Private William Ayers of New Hampshire
11) Private Robert Ayers of New Jersey
12) Private Benjamin Ayers
13) Private Christopher Ayers of New Hampshire
14) Private John Ayers of New Hampshire
15) Peter Ayers of Connecticut
16) Private Ruben Ayers of New Jersey