Show ContentsLear History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The name Lear came to England with the ancestors of the Lear family in the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Lear family lived in Leicestershire. This surname was originally derived from the Old French de L'Eyre, a reference to a place in the arrondissement of Evreux in Normandy. [1] [2]

Early Origins of the Lear family

The surname Lear was first found in Leicestershire and Warwickshire where one of the first records of the family was William de Lyre who held estates in these shires in the 13th century. [1]

The Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 list William de la Lere (likely the same as above) [3]

Early History of the Lear family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Lear research. Another 91 words (6 lines of text) covering the years 1272, 1602, 1642, 1662, 1722, 1798, 1802 and 1804 are included under the topic Early Lear History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Lear Spelling Variations

Multitudes of spelling variations are a hallmark of Anglo Norman names. Most of these names evolved in the 11th and 12th century, in the time after the Normans introduced their own Norman French language into a country where Old and Middle English had no spelling rules and the languages of the court were French and Latin. To make matters worse, medieval scribes spelled words according to sound, so names frequently appeared differently in the various documents in which they were recorded. The name was spelled Lear, Leare, Leer, Leere and others.

Early Notables of the Lear family (pre 1700)

Outstanding amongst the family at this time was Tobias Lear, an American diplomat who was appointed by George Washington as his military secretary in 1798 and appointed by...
Another 27 words (2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Lear Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Lear Ranking

In the United States, the name Lear is the 3,325th most popular surname with an estimated 9,948 people with that name. [4] However, in Newfoundland, Canada, the name Lear is ranked the 788th most popular surname with an estimated 52 people with that name. [5]

Ireland Migration of the Lear family to Ireland

Some of the Lear family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. More information about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

United States Lear migration to the United States +

Because of this political and religious unrest within English society, many people decided to immigrate to the colonies. Families left for Ireland, North America, and Australia in enormous numbers, traveling at high cost in extremely inhospitable conditions. The New World in particular was a desirable destination, but the long voyage caused many to arrive sick and starving. Those who made it, though, were welcomed by opportunities far greater than they had known at home in England. Many of these families went on to make important contributions to the emerging nations of Canada and the United States. Analysis of immigration records indicates that some of the first North American immigrants bore the name Lear or a variant listed above:

Lear Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Mort Lear who arrived in Virginia in 1649
  • Mart Lear, who arrived in Virginia in 1649 [6]
  • Tobias Lear who sailed to New England in 1650
  • Pierre Lear, aged 40, who arrived in New York in 1698 [6]
Lear Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Anne Lear, who landed in Virginia in 1704 [6]
  • Henderick Lear, aged 30, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1743 [6]
  • Adam Lear, who arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1773 [6]
Lear Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Peter Lear, who landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1812 [6]
  • John Lear, who arrived in New York, NY in 1815 [6]
  • W Lear, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1851 [6]

Australia Lear migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Lear Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. William Lear, (b. 1797), aged 22, English labourer who was convicted in Gloucester, Gloucestershire, England for 7 years for stealing, transported aboard the "Dromedary" on 11th September 1819, arriving in Tasmania (Van Diemen's Land) [7]
  • Mr. Charles Lear, English convict who was convicted in Buckinghamshire, England for life, transported aboard the "Florentia" on 14th August 1827, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [8]
  • Mr. James Lear, (b. 1799), aged 30, English shepherd who was convicted in Devon, England for life for theft, transported aboard the "Claudine" on 19th August 1829, arriving in New South Wales, Australia, he died in 1830 [9]
  • Miss Sophia Lear who was convicted in Stafford, Staffordshire, England for 7 years, transported aboard the "Edward" on 23rd April 1834, arriving in Tasmania, (Van Diemen's Land) [10]
  • John Lear, who arrived in Kangaroo Island aboard the ship "Hartley" in 1837 [11]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Lear migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Lear Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Caroline Lear, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Oliver Lang" in 1858
  • William Lear, aged 26, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "City of Auckland" in 1872

Contemporary Notables of the name Lear (post 1700) +

  • William Powell "Bill" Lear (1902-1978), American inventor and businessman. He is best known for founding the Lear Jet Corporation in the 1950s
  • Norman Milton Lear (b. 1922), American four-time Emmy Award winning and Peabody Award winning writer, actor, director and producer, awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Bill Clinton in 1999
  • John Olsen Lear (1942-2022), American influential conspiracy theorist, a record-breaking pilot, son of Bill Lear, founder of the Learjet
  • Evelyn Lear (b. 1926), American soprano, opera singer and composer
  • Harold C. "Hal" Lear Jr. (1935-2016), American NBA basketball player
  • General Ben Lear (1879-1966), American Commander in Chief Army Ground Force (1944-1945) [12]
  • William A. Lear, American politician, Mayor of Clarksburg, West Virginia, 1971 [13]
  • Hattie Lear, American Republican politician, Member of Michigan Republican State Central Committee, 1949 [13]
  • George Lear, American Republican politician, Delegate to Republican National Convention from Pennsylvania, 1856; Pennsylvania State Attorney General, 1875-79 [13]
  • Floyd Lear, American Democratic Party politician, Alternate Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Iowa, 1972 [13]
  • ... (Another 3 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

HMS Prince of Wales
  • Mr. George Ralph Lear, British Leading Supply Assistant, who sailed into battle on the HMS Prince of Wales (1941) and died in the sinking [14]
SS Southern Cross
  • Mr. Geroge H. Lear (1879-1914), Newfoundlander from Kelligrews who was aboard the "SS Southern Cross" when it is suspected she sank between the 31st March 1914 and early April during the storm with a heavy load of pelts; no survivors were ever found

  1. ^ The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X)
  2. ^ Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  3. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  4. ^
  5. ^ The order of Common Surnames in 1955 in Newfoundland retrieved on 20th October 2021 (retrieved from Family Names of the Island of Newfoundland by E.R. Seary corrected edition ISBN 0-7735-1782-0)
  6. ^ Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  7. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 16th July 2021). Retrieved from
  8. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 5th October 2022).
  9. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 18th February 2021). Retrieved from
  10. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 25th January 2022). Retrieved from
  11. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) HARTLEY 1837. Retrieved from
  12. ^ Generals of World War II. (Retrieved 2012, April 2) Ben Lear. Retrieved from
  13. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2016, January 15) . Retrieved from
  14. ^ HMS Prince of Wales Crew members. (Retrieved 2014, April 9) . Retrieved from on Facebook