The surname of AYRES was an official name 'the heir'. Following the crusades in Europe in the 11th, 12th and 13th centuries, a need was felt for a family name to replace the one given at birth, or in addition to it. This was recognized by those of noble birth, and particularly by those who went on the Crusades, as it added prestige and practical advantage to their status. Early records of the name mention Roger de Hayre who was recorded in the County of Norfolk in 1264. Thomas Ayr of Yorkshire was recorded in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379, and Richard Ayre of County Lancashire appears in 1400. Humphrey Mercer married Katherine Ayer in London in the year of 1583. Francis Lee married Ann Ayre at St. George's, Hanover Square, London in 1757. Between the 11th and 15th centuries it became customary for surnames to be assumed in Europe, but they were not commonplace in England or Scotland before the Norman Conquest of 1066. Those of gentler blood assumed surnames at this time, but it was not until the reign of Edward II (1307-1377) that it became a common practice for all people. The associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884. Many factors contributed to the establishment of a surname system. For generations after the Norman Conquest of 1066 a very few dynasts and magnates passed on hereditary surnames, but the main of the population, with a wide choice of first-names out of Celtic, Old English, Norman and Latin, avoided ambiguity without the need for a second name. As society became more stabilized, there was property to leave in wills, the towns and villages grew and the labels that had served to distinguish a handful of folk in a friendly village were not adequate for a teeming slum where perhaps most of the householders were engaged in the same monotonous trade, so not even their occupations could distinguish them, and some first names were gaining a tiresome popularity, especially Thomas after 1170. The hereditary principle in surnames gained currency first in the South, and the poorer folk were slower to apply it. By the 14th century however, most of the population had acquired a second name. One of several families bearing the surname traces its descent from Humphrey le Heyr of Bromham, County Wiltshire, who was one of the crusaders who accompanied Richard I to the Holy Land in the 12th century.
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