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About the study

After researching my Hamer family tree for a number of years, I decided to broaden the search and so have undertaken a one name study.

Variant names

The variants included are Hammer and Heymer.

Name origin

The origins of the Hamer surname are buried in uncertainty. There are two main clusters of the surname in the UK - the larger percentage of Hamers can be found in the Lancashire area, particularly Rochdale and Bury. There is a small ecclesiastical parish named HAMER just outside Rochdale. 
There are a few references to it:
In 1870-72, John Marius Wilson's Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales described Hamer like this:
HAMER, a chapelry in Rochdale parish, Lancashire; comprising a suburb of Rochdale, with several large factories. Pop., 3, 390. The living is a vicarage. Value £200. The church was built in 1867, at a cost of £5, 000.All Saints' Church, Hamer (pp 123-125)

Another reference to the parish (with slightly conflicting information) can be found in GENUKI:
"This handsome church was erected in the year 1866, at a cost of £3,800, upon a picturesque plot of high land given by the late J. S. Entwisle, Esq., on the Foxholes estate, a few hundred yards off the main road leading to Littleborough, at Hamer Bottoms. The foundation stone was laid by the donor of the site, on the 29th April, 1865, and the church was consecrated by the Bishop of Manchester, on the 22nd of November, 1866. 
The other large collection of Hamers (my Hamer ancestors) come from the old mid Wales counties of Montgomeryshire and Radnorshire which now form part of Powys.
In the eighteenth and nineteenth century there are thousands of Hamers living in that area and in Family Search there is a record of Willimus Hamer, baptised on 2 January 1599 in Llandinam, Montgomeryshire. It may be possible then that the "Welsh Hamer"€ name came about entirely differently from the Lancashire contingent. One point of view is that it is a habitational name from a village in Lancashire named Hamer, from Old English hamor "rock"€™, or "crag"€™. Another theory is that it is a metonymic occupational name for a smith or for a maker or seller of hammers, Middle English hamer (Old English hamor), or a habitational name for someone living at an inn or shop distinguished by the sign of a hammer.

Historical occurrences of the name

Certainly there were examples of the name in early times. Early examples of the surname recording taken from surviving rolls and registers include: John le Hammer in the pipe rolls of the county of Sussex in the year 1332, whilst John de Heymer is recorded in 'Baines History of Lancashire' in 1461. Katerina Hamer married Thomas Anderson, at St. Andrew's Enfield, in the county of Middlesex, on July 22nd 1560, and Ralph, the son of Ralph Hamer, was christened at St. Nicholas Acons, in the city of London, on February 16th 1589.
More recently Frank Hamer was a Texas Ranger, known in popular culture for his involvement in tracking down and killing the criminal duo Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow in 1934. Fanny Lou Hamer was a Civil Rights Activist from Mississippi. Hamer Guitars make highly regarded instruments used by many famous contemporary musicians. In the UK, Mary Hamer was a Winner of the Virginia Prize For Fiction 2011.

Name frequency

There are several estimates available for the number of people with the Hamer surname. estimate 5898 currently and 5608 in the 1881 census. It also mentions that in the USA the number is 6526 and Australia 657. Another source claims 8178 occurrences of the name at the last count.

Distribution of the name

The surname Hamer seems to cluster in two distinct areas - firstly in Lancashire, particularly Rochdale and Bury; secondly in mid Wales around Llanidloes, Llandinam and Newtown.


I have considerable data especially the Welsh 'Hamers' and documentary evidence that I am able to share.