Show ContentsWair History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The ancestors of the bearers of the Wair family name are thought have lived in ancient Anglo-Saxon England. They were first found near a dam or weir on a river. Wair is a local surname, which belongs to the category of hereditary surnames. Other types of local surnames include topographic surnames, which could be given to a person who lived beside any physical feature, such as a hill, stream, church or type of tree. Habitation names form the other broad category of surnames that were derived from place-names. They were derived from pre-existing names for towns, villages, parishes, or farmsteads. Other local names are derived from the names of houses, manors, estates, regions, and entire counties. This surname comes from the Old English words wær and wer, which mean dam, or weir. The surname Wair may also refer to people who came from a place named Ware. A third interpretation of the derivation of this surname comes from the Old English word, war(e), which means wary, or cautious. In this sense, the surname would have been given to someone who was of a cautious disposition. Members of the Wair family settled in Devon, prior to the Norman Conquest of 1066.

Early Origins of the Wair family

The surname Wair was first found in Devon where the first record of the family was Herebertus la Guerre in the Pipe Rolls of 1179. A few years later, John la Werre, la Guerre was listed in the Pipe Rolls of 1187 and 1195 in Gloucestershire. The name was "originally de la werre, de la guerre, 'of the war', a warrior." 1

"It was formerly prefixed by the particles De la, as in the ancient family De la Warr." 2

"Sir Roger de la Warr, the third Baron, son and successor of John la Warr, one of the commanders of Cressy, shared himself in the glory Poictiers, and took a leading part in the capture of the French king. With reference to this exploit, it is recorded that much contention took place, as he defended himself with great valour; and the pressure upon him becoming great, such as knew him cried out, 'Sir, surrender, or you are dead;' where- upon he yielded, according to Froisard, to Sir Dennis Morbeck, a knight of Artois, in the English service; but being forced from that captain, more than ten knights and esquires claimed the honour of taking the royal prisoner. Among these, the pretensions of Sir Roger la Warr, and Sir John Pelham (ancestor of the Pelhams, Dukes of Newcastle, and of the Lords Yarborough and Pelham) having been acknowledged the strongest, Lord de la Warre had, in commemoration of so valiant an exploit, the crampet, or chape, of the captive prince's sword; and Sir John Pelham had the buckle of a belt as a memento of the same achievement. His lordship continued for several years after Poictiers in the French wars, and acquired in every campaign an augmentation of renown. " 3

"William de la War, and Amabel his wife, occur in 1194 in Surrey and Warwickshire (Rotuli Curiae Regis). Dugdale commences the pedigree with John La Warre, who about twelve years afterwards received from King John the Manor of Bristolton, a part of the Honour of Gloucester, and died in 1212. His son Jordan joined the revolt of the Barons, and though he returned to his allegiance in 1215, Fulk de Bréant and William de Cantilupe being sureties for 'his future Fidelity,' was again in arms against the Crown in his old age, and only made his peace after the 'murder of Evesham, for battle,' says one chronicler, 'none it was.' A second Sir John de la Warr, styled junior, and most probably his brother, was one of the two wardens of Kenilworth Castle, and was slain by an arrow shot during the siege." 4

Another source claims the name was Norman in origin: "from Gar or Garde, near Corbeil, Isle of France. Ingelram de Warda occurs in Northamptonshire 1130, and Ralph de Gar in Norfolk, temp. Henry II. In 1296 and 1280 Stephen de Ware and Thomas de Ware are mentioned as holding fiefs [in Norfolk.] From the latter descended the Lords of Tottington, Pickenham and Dudlington." 5

The Subsidy Rolls of 1327 list Henry atte Warr and the Lancashire Feet of Fines list John la Warre in 1310. 6

Early History of the Wair family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Wair research. Another 115 words (8 lines of text) covering the years 1284, 1297, 1342, 1588, 1594, 1632, 1666, 1772, 1784, 1798, 1803, 1804, 1806, 1838, 1839, 1841, 1846, 1847, 1851 and 1853 are included under the topic Early Wair History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Wair Spelling Variations

Until quite recently, the English language has lacked a definite system of spelling rules. Consequently, Anglo-Saxon surnames are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations. Changes in Anglo-Saxon names were influenced by the evolution of the English language, as it incorporated elements of French, Latin, and other languages. Although Medieval scribes and church officials recorded names as they sounded, so it is common to find one person referred to by several different spellings of his surname, even the most literate people varied the spelling of their own names. Variations of the name Wair include Ware, Wares, Delaware, Delawarr and others.

Early Notables of the Wair family

Notables of the family at this time include Sir James Ware (1594-1666), a noted historian and Irish Auditor-General; and Hugh Ware (ca.1772-1846), a prominent United Irishman in the field in 1798, and became a colonel in Napoleon's army.Sir William Warre (1784-1853), lieutenant-general, colonel of the 94th foot, eldest son of James Warre of George Street, Hanover Square, London, and of his wife Eleanor, daughter of Thomas Greg of Coles Park, Hertfordshire, was born at Oporto, Portugal, on 15 April 1784. He was educated at Harrow, and on 5 Nov. 1803 received an ensign's commission in the 52nd foot, which he joined...
Another 114 words (8 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Wair Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Wair family to Ireland

Some of the Wair family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 75 words (5 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

United States Wair migration to the United States +

Searching for a better life, many English families migrated to British colonies. Unfortunately, the majority of them traveled under extremely harsh conditions: overcrowding on the ships caused the majority of the immigrants to arrive diseased, famished, and destitute from the long journey across the ocean. For those families that arrived safely, modest prosperity was attainable, and many went on to make invaluable contributions to the development of the cultures of the new colonies. Research into the origins of individual families in North America revealed records of the immigration of a number of people bearing the name Wair or a variant listed above:

Wair Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Mich Wair, who arrived in South Carolina in 1755 7

  1. Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  2. Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  3. Burke, John Bernard, The Roll of Battle Abbey. London: Edward Churton, 26, Holles Street, 1848, Print.
  4. Cleveland, Dutchess of The Battle Abbey Roll with some Account of the Norman Lineages. London: John Murray, Abermarle Street, 1889. Print. Volume 1 of 3
  5. 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)
  6. Harrison, Henry, Surnames of the United Kingdom: A Concise Etymological Dictionary Baltimore: Geneological Publishing Company, 2013. Print
  7. 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) on Facebook