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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2014

Where did the English Ayer family come from? What is the English Ayer family crest and coat of arms? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Ayer family history?

The ancient Anglo-Saxon culture once found in Britain is the soil from which the many generations of the Ayer family have grown. The name Ayer was given to a member of the family who was a person who was well-known as the heir to a title, fortune, or estate. The name is thought to be derived from the Old French eir, which is itself derived from the Latin heres, meaning "heir."

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Sound was what guided spelling in the essentially pre-literate Middle Ages, so one person's name was often recorded under several variations during a single lifetime. Also, before the advent of the printing press and the first dictionaries, the English language was not standardized. Therefore, spelling variations were common, even among the names of the most literate people. Known variations of the Ayer family name include Eyre, Eyer, Eyers, Eayres, Eyres, Ayer, Ayers,Heyer, Ayr, Air, Aires, Hyer, Hayer, Hoyer and many more.

First found in Derbyshire, where the ancestral home of the main branch of the Ayer family is thought to be located. Early written records of the name Ayer have been found in many counties, notably Derbyshire, Wiltshire, and Shropshire. In the early legends of the Eyre family, it was recounted that a Knight named Eyre who fought with Richard the Lionheart at the Battle of Ascalon during the Crusades lost a leg while defending his King, which is why the family still bears a booted leg in its crest. Another source, mentions that the traditional origin of the name was in circumstance of a Norman knight having at the Battle of Hastings succoured (helped) duke William of Normandy and given him air when he was in danger of suffocation. [1]


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Ayer research. Another 223 words(16 lines of text) covering the years 1216, 1582, 1657, 1635, 1628, 1678, 1659, 1678, 1635, 1695, 1660, 1661, 1689, 1638, 1698, 1666, 1735, 1665, 1715, 1698, 1701, 1705, 1715, 1670, 1715, 1729, 1585, 1661, 1662 and 1768 are included under the topic Early Ayer History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 281 words(20 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Ayer Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Some of the Ayer family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 227 words(16 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.

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For political, religious, and economic reasons, thousands of English families boarded ships for Ireland, the Canadas, the America colonies, and many of smaller tropical colonies in the hope of finding better lives abroad. Although the passage on the cramped, dank ships caused many to arrive in the New World diseased and starving, those families that survived the trip often went on to make valuable contributions to those new societies to which they arrived. Early immigrants bearing the Ayer surname or a spelling variation of the name include :

Ayer Settlers in the 17th Century


  • John Ayer, who was on record in Massachusetts in 1635
  • Simon Ayer, his wife Dorothy and their eight children, who all settled in Massachusetts in 1635
  • John Ayer, who arrived in Massachusetts in 1640
  • Henry Ayer, who immigrated to Rhode Island in 1655
  • Peter Ayer, who came to New England in 1666

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  • Sir Alfred Jules Ayer (1910-1989), English philosopher
  • Nathaniel Davis Ayer (1887-1952), American (British born) composer of popular music
  • Claire D. Ayer (b. 1948), Vermont politician
  • David Ayer (b. 1968), American screenwriter


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The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Virtus sola invicta
Motto Translation: Virtue alone is invincible.

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  1. ^ Lowe, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.

Other References

  1. Ingram, Rev. James. Translator Anglo-Saxon Chronicle 1823. Print.
  2. Burke, Sir Bernard. Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Peerage and Baronetage, The Privy Council, Knightage and Compainonage. London: Burke Publishing, 1921. Print.
  3. Hanks, Hodges, Mills and Room. The Oxford Names Companion. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002. Print. (ISBN 0-19-860561-7).
  4. Holt, J.C. Ed. Domesday Studies. Woodbridge: Boydell, 1987. Print. (ISBN 0-85115-477-8).
  5. Bede, The Venerable. Historia Ecclesiatica Gentis Anglorum (The Ecclesiastical History Of the English People). Available through Internet Medieval Sourcebook the Fordham University Centre for Medieval Studies. Print.
  6. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  7. Burke, Sir Bernard. Burke's Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry: Including American Families with British Ancestry. (2 Volumes). London: Burke Publishing, 1939. Print.
  8. Crispin, M. Jackson and Leonce Mary. Falaise Roll Recording Prominent Companions of William Duke of Normandy at the Conquest of England. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  9. Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds. Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8).
  10. Bullock, L.G. Historical Map of England and Wales. Edinburgh: Bartholomew and Son, 1971. Print.
  11. ...

The Ayer Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Ayer Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 11 October 2013 at 11:16.

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