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England and Scotland

The name in England is of occupational origin, derived from the profession of the original bearer. The source of the name can be traced to the Old French word "byre", meaning "cowman", and may have come to England with the Norman Invasion of 1066. In Scotland, where the Byers families in Iceland mainly came from, the name is local in origin and can be traced to the old barony of Byers in East Lothian, simply meaning "of Byers".


Earlier documented records of the name in Scotland, date to the fourteenth century, when one John de Byres appears as a monk of Neubotle in 1309. George Byris and Thomas Byris were successively ministers of Legertwood in Berwickshire from 1593 to 1653, while John Byres, an eminent merchant in Edinburgh, treasurer, dean of guild, and provost, died in 1639. For centuries the barony was the property of the family of Lindsay and gave title to Lindsay of Byres. This surname is thought to have arrived in Iceland with Scottish settlers during the Plankation of Ulster, in 1608. In the Birth Indexes of 1890 ten Byers are listed in Ireland, one in Leinster and nine in Ulster. Today they are still fairly numerous in Ulster, being mainly associated with Cavan and Armagh. This surname reached America in 1775 when one Jacon Byer, aged seventeen, sailed from the port of London to New York aboard the "York". By 1877 eleven bearers of the name Byers were listed in the New York directory.

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