The surname of DAYE was an occupational name 'the deye' a dairy maid, and sometimes the name meant a kneader of bread, a female baker. The name is still common and in use in some of the Midland counties and Scotland. Occupational surnames refer directly to the particular trade or occupation followed by the first bearer of the name. These occupations can be divided into classes such as agricultural, manufacturing, retailing and so on. In the Middle Ages, at least among the Christian population, people did not pursue specialized occupations exclusively to the extent that we do today. Smiths, millers and wrights were indeed specialists, but even they would normally have their own smallholdings for growing crops and keeping a few animals. Others were simply designated as the servant of some person of a higher social status, as a maid or parson.
Early records of the name mention Leofgife oa Dagean, documented in County Somerset, in the year 1055. Godiua Daia, was recorded in 1095, County Suffolk. Emma de Deys, was recorded in 1273 in County Lancashire.
Willelmus Dey of Yorkshire was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Cecil Day-Lewis (1904-72) was an English poet, and detective novelist; he was poet laureate in 1968-72. The name was taken early to Ireland by settlers, and is usually spelt as O'Dea. It was one of the principle Dalcasian septs. Ireland was 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. The name has many variant spellings which include Daye, Dey, D'Eye and Deyes. In many parts of central and western Europe, hereditary surnames began to become fixed at around the 12th century, and have developed and changed slowly over the years. As society became more complex, and such matters as the management of tenure, and in particular the collection of taxes were delegated to special functionaries, it became imperative to distinguish a more complex system of nomenclature to differentiate one individual from another. The associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884.
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