This name of ADAIR was originally a Scottish surname prominent in Ulster where it was taken by settlers. The tradition of the foundation of the family of Adair, originating from a fugitive son of Fitzgerald, Earl of Desmond of Adair in Ireland, taking as his surname his fathers estate seems too hypothetical for belief. It is however, a fact that this Thomas Odeir had a charter of the lands of Kildonan in the Rynes of Galloway from Robert I (1274-1329). John Adair had a commission for a survey of Scotland in the year 1681. The name is also occasionally an anglicized form of the name O'Daire. Ireland was one of the earliest countries to evolve a system of hereditary surnames. They came into being fairly generally in the 11th century, and indeed a few were formed before the year 1000. At first the coat of arms was a practical matter which served a function on the battlefield and in tournaments. With his helmet covering his face, and armour encasing the knight from head to foot, the only means of identification for his followers, was the insignia painted on his shield, and embroidered on his surcoat, the flowing and draped garment worn over the armour. The bulk of European surnames in countries such as England and France were formed in the 13th and 14th centuries. The process started earlier and continued in some places into the 19th century, but the norm is that in the 11th century people did not have surnames, whereas by the 15th century they did. The rise of surnames, according to the accepted theory, was due to the Norman Conquest of 1066 when Old English personal-names were rapidly superseded by the new christian names introduced by the Normans. Of these, only a few were really popular and in the 12th century this scarcity of christian names led to the increasing use of surnames to distinguish the numerous individuals of the same name. Some Normans had hereditary surnames before they came to England, but there is evidence that surnames would have developed in England even had there been no Norman Conquest. The development of the feudal system made it essential that the king should know exactly what service each person owed. Payments to and by the exchequer required that debtors and creditors should be particularized, and it became official that each individual acquired exact identification. The associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884.
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