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About the study

A study of the possible origin, frequency and distribution of these surnames ; and to make available the research to those persons with these surnames and the general public.

Variant names

Byers, Byars

Other possible variants are Birs and Birss, both of which are also variants of, and part of the  Birse One-Name study.

Other known variants of these surnames include : Biars ; Bias ; Biers ; Bies ; Bius ; Buise ; Buyer ; Buyers ; Buyres ; Buys ; Byar ; Byare ; Byas ; Byass ; Byer ; Byes ; Byess ; Byirs ; Byis ; Byors ; Byous ; Byras ; Byre ; Byris ; Byus ;


Name origin

The Scottish surname of Byres is possibly derived from the old barony of Byres in East Lothian. This barony was held by the Lindsay family and gave name to the title Lindsay of The Byres. This title is still used by a cadet branch of the Lindsay family.

SourceClan Lindsay AUS - history of associated names. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 13 January 2016].

Recorded in a number of spelling forms, this is a topographical or occupational surname, and possibly of pre-7th century Viking origins. It derives from the word "byre", meaning the cattle barn or dairy, and is one of a group of surnames which originate from working or living on a farm. These include Bull, Heffer, Stott, and Palfrey, all relate to the keeping of livestock, the prime agricultural function of the pre-Norman period before 1066. Perhaps not surprisingly given the importance of the occupation, this is one of the earliest of all recorded hereditary surnames, and it is also perhaps not surprising that it was in the English cattle breeding regions of the Fens and the West Country, where originally the surname was most prevalent. There is also a possibility that in some cases the surname may have descended from an Olde English personal name "Bye", of unproven meaning.

Source - Surname Database - Byres

Historical occurrences of the name

In Scotland the surname has recorded ancient usage. In 1309 John de Byres was a monk in Neubotle, Midlothian. Thome de Byris was the owner of a tenement in Edinburgh in 1392. In 1534, there is a record of a Thomas Byrs being a burgess of Aberdeen. George Byris and Thomas Byris were successively ministers of Legertwood (north-east of Earlston) in Berwickshire from 1593 to 1653. John Byres was a well known merchant in Edinburgh who died in 1639. In 1690 the schoolmaster at Melrose was Thomas Byers.  Andrew Byres was a burgess of Cupar in 1694.

Source - Clan Lindsay AUS - history of associated names. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 13 January 2016].

In the UK, this is suggested by the recording of Thomas filius Bye of Cambridge, in the Hundred Rolls of the year 1279. Other early examples of the name recording include John Attebey also in the same Hundred Rolls of Cambridge, and William en le By of Somerset in 1327. The famous portrait painter of the 17th century Nicholas Byer, who died in 1681, was actually born in Norway, although possibly of English parents. The first known recording is believed to be that of Hugo de la Bye, a witness at the Assize Courts of Somerset, in the year 1243. This was during the reign of King Henry 111 of England, 1216 - 1272.

Source - Surname Database - Byres

Name frequency

Ancestry Byres OccupationsAncestry Byers OccupationsByars Occupations

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Distribution of the name

The Byres surname has been found (predominantly) in Scotland, and also England and Ireland in the UK.

It is known that Byres / Byers surnamed persons immigrated from Scotland to Ireland, Australia, United States, Canada and also via Canada to New Zealand.


Ancestry Byres 1891 DataAncestry Byers 1891 DataByars Distribution

Images courtesy of


Byers DNA Project

Byars DNA Project run by Donald Byars of USA



Byres One-Name Study

Byres Geneology Project

As a sept of Clan Lindsay (AUS) - Byres