This surname of ARY was a locational name from some spot in County Cumberland or Westmorland, Scotland. The name is also spelt AIREY, AIRY and AIRAY. The earliest of the name on record appears to be Henry ARY of County Westmorland, who registered at Oxford University in the year 1580. Surnames derived from placenames are divided into two broad categories; topographic names and habitation names. Topographic names are derived from general descriptive references to someone who lived near a physical feature such as an oak tree, a hill, stream or a church. Habitation names are derived from pre-existing names denoting towns, villages and farmsteads. Other classes of local names include those derived from the names of rivers, individual houses with signs on them, regions and whole countries. Later instances of the name include Henry AIRY, who died in 1610. He was a puritan, divine and author, born in Westmorland, the favourite servant of a certain Bernard Gilpin. Anthony Ayrey of Chipping in Lancashire, was listed in the Wills at Richmond in 1681, and Joseph Airey of Kendal married Sarah Salthouse of Ulverston, at Ulverston Church in the year 1783. 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 most 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.
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