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About the study
Two important questions were raised when starting the Vayro One Name Study, namely Who Am I? and Where Did We Come From?. The first was relatively easy to answer; the second is still a little unclear
Both of my parents passed away in the early 1980's and it was only then that I thought about our particularly unusual surname and where it had originated. I had lost my best source of information, and many years later I feel that I have at least made some progress. In the early stages (1983) I visited relatives and contacted family members who recorded details of their own small group and I drew up various networks from the information received. I obtained the names of several of my Grandfather's siblings, and an elderly Aunt May, gave me two Victorian Funeral Invitation Cards that turned out to be for my Great Grandmother Elizabeth (1854-1892) and Great, Great Grandfather William (1825-1907). From a small seed, the family tree developed and the one name study began.
These remembrance cards pinpointed places and dates and led me to search the archives for Durham and North Yorkshire and for East Witton in lower Wensleydale, where my Great Grandfather James (1853-1893) was born, and where other ancestors had lived and worked as tenant farmers, horse-trainers, or in other land based occupation on Jervaulx Estates. In nearby Ellingstring I found several generations had lived at Moorcote, Tranmire and Angram Cote Farms (see Study Image above) with clear occupancy between 1800-1960.
My father and paternal grandfather were coal miners, but all other direct ancestors have in some capacity been connected to farming. In over 35 years I have never accepted anything as absolute proof. When searching records I found numerous transcription errors. A prime example for baptism records in a Masham Parish register showed variations of Varo, Vayro and Pharaoh for what were obviously sons of the same parents, Thomas and Catherine Varo. In terms of close Vayro family contacts I found Thomas and Catherine Varo were related to a Stanley Varo living in Bingley whose ancestors and mine trace back not just to the same areas of Wensleydale but also to the same William Vayro and Esther Lye, and beyond. For some reason his ancestors had decided to drop the Y in our surname, or mine had decided to include it.
From William (1768-1826), with a few hurdles and dry-stone walls along the way I was able to trace 5 direct generations of Vayro ancestors through to 1700 in Coverdale. At that point the trail goes haywire due to variations of spelling to Varah and Varo and numerous other derivatives. The research has opened up new landscapes; areas of the country never visited before and discussions with numerous new friends, distant relatives and contacts across the world. I gained an insight into the past and a certain sense of reverence whilst sitting beside the graves of ancestors George, Thomas, Richard and his son a certain William of Jervaulx at East Witton. Though only a lowly tenant farmer, the large headstone for the latter may be a reflection of William's loyal service to the Marquis or Earl of Aislebury, who owned Jervaulx Estates. In turn Thomas and son George had apparently carried on the tradition as Joiners and Handymen for Jervaulx Hall until as late as 1970 and descendants are still living in the Masham area.
Research has brought a few surprises; sometime details one might not want to know. Charity Vayro was buried in a pauper's grave in Coverham in 1795 aged 82, which for a pauper is a long life! And I have found that the Vayro surname has its fair share of "Black Sheep" or villains. Recent contacts made across the United Kingdom, include long lost relatives and others who are now close friends, and a forum network of emailers has enabled me to forge valuable links and exchange information. Across the world there are Vayro families in Canada, Australia and New Zealand, with as yet Vayro connections in 1650 Peru unlinked. (Perhaps this could be linked to the Spanish Conquistadores?) More recently I have made contact with Vayro families in Belper, Derbyshire, and in Indian Head USA, through one of the social networking sites.
Very early on I decided that memories and stories were not sufficient, and tracing the Vayro ancestors has required meticulous recording of factual Information taken from Certificates, Wills, Parish Registers, Microfilms, Transcripts and any other source I could find. Essentially I have kept diaries and notebooks, with as much detail as possible, about individuals, dates, places, visits made and facts discovered, so that it was possible to cross reference and to ensure that I was not examining the same source over and over again, unless I needed to. The majority of data in the one-name study is computerised and therefore easily accessible, and backed up on independent hard drives. There are PDF versions of my research available in the Guild Library Archives.
In my One Name Study I have concentrated heavily on VAYRO, VARO VARAH and VAIRO. However if I ignore the transcriptions that are ridiculously off track then I am left with a whole variety of other derivatives.
A colleague, Monica Rose considers that her surname Vearer is certainly of Italian origin, being one of a group of names found in regional or dialect forms which are derived from Varo, Vara, Varro, Varia, Vario and Varino.
Another colleague, Hazel Martell researching Varray Ancestors has informed me that in the Parish Registers for Birstall alone there were eleven different spellings of the surname. The first mention was for a William Varray of Adwalton who married Isabel Brogden on July 4 th 1640. The other versions of the surname were Vairey, Vara, Varah, Varay, Varey, Varo, Varray, Varrey, Varry, Vary, and Verah, but notice no recordings for Vayro!
There is a record of a Joshua Veary of Birstall marrying at Adel (north Leeds) in December 1701, and even earlier a Peter Varr whose two children were Christened at Tong in the Chapelry of Birstall parish.
And anything else that looks remotely similar.!
Grandfather Thomas suggested that we had originally come over with the Spanish Armada, but of course I never believed him.
Tales from the Yorkshire Dales describe two Italian brothers who came over to tile the floors of the Monasteries or repair the tapestries.
A more recent thought is that the surname may be French in origin with Varro and Varron as proper names in larger French dictionaries.
Surnames Varo, Varro, and Varol, were found in the province of Burgos, an area of the Spanish Kingdom of Bastile, very influential in the Middle Ages.
In over quarter of a century of research I have not yet found factual evidence linking to Spaniards or Italian Tilers, nor anyone rich or famous, but I firmly believe that the surname may be Italian in origin, and might argue that we spring from the toga of Marcus Terentius VARRO some 2000 years ago, but proving it is another thing.
There is no Y in the Italian alphabet but in Chieri, Northern Italy there is a Vairo Museum and a Porto Vairo ( gateway ) in the city walls, with over 146 communities containing Vairo families spread over Italy today.
Some early references to the surname "Vairo" date back to 1533 and are documented in Calabria, Salento and Naples. It is possibly derived from a Southern Italian word "Vairo" or standard Italian "Vair" meaning "blackish" and ultimately from the Latin "Varius/varios". It could even have been a nickname indicating someone with dark hair, or with a swarthy or dark complexion.
Dialect forms derived from Varo, Vara, Varro, Varia, and Varino, and the latin word Varus may mean lame or crooked legged, or Varios meaning freckled or pockmarked, and scarred by smallpox. Name Origin Research of York suggest that the surname Vayro may well be of early medieval English origin, and a late variant of the more familiar name Farrar an "occupational" surname for a blacksmith or ironworker.
It may be a derivative of the Middle English and Old French "Ferrour", "Ferour" or perhaps even "Fer" or "Ferrum" which is Latin for Iron. The modern equivalent surname has variations ranging from Farrar, Ferrer, Farrow and Faro to Pharrow, Pharoah, Varah, Var(e)y, Varrow, Vairow and Varoa.
All of these variations could have developed due to local dialect and the interchange of phonetics and written forms of the letters F, V and Ph, which was common in the late medieval period.George Redmondâs book on Surnames in the Bradford area contains the following theoretical information:- "Varey, Vara(h), Varo"
Reaney (another expert on surnames) said of these surnames that they were "clearly a late development of Farrow" and drew his examples from 18 th century Suffolk sources. "locally (Bradford) the name first occurred c1640 at Adwalton in Birstall parish and it was spelt in a wide variety of ways. The origins and meaning are not clear, but there are similar surnames in the 16 th century in South Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire".
Redmonds went on to say "the substitution of initial V for F would be very unusual in the West Riding of Yorkshire, so these names may have a different origin to the one suggested by Reaney, possibly outside the county". Examples he gave were "1566-75 Richard Varay / Vayray / Vayrie in Rotherham, 1640-77 William Varray / Varah / Varo in Adwalton, and 1674-76 Edward Varey / Varah in East Bierley."
Historical occurrences of the name
CAIUS TERENTIUS VARRO in 216 BC. a Roman Statesman, Consul and General, who apparently opposed Hannibal in the battle of Cannae. Unfortunately most of the Roman army was destroyed but according to history this disaster could have been more due to the Roman system of alternating command than to Varroâs incompetence.
MARCUS TERENTIUS VARRO 116-29 B.C. who was a celebrated writer "whose vast and varied knowledge in many fields earned for him the title of the most learned of the Romans.''
IMBIANCHERIA DEL VAYRO a Textile Museum in the town of Chieri in North East Italy.
CHIERI ITALY Vairo / Vario is the name of one of the areas of the town of Chieri, was referred to in old documents but is still in use today. Old records show it is a family surname in 1276 when several Vairo families lived in the village of San Martino des Stellone nearbye. Other Vairos lived in the Albussano district of Chieri. Namely:-Lacabus Varius catasto in 1253, Guillieirri Vayri transferred the value of his goods as Â£22 from the Catasto of San Martino in 1276 and Catasto Gialdo in 1289, Vayronus Vayrus in Albussano 1275, and Oddonus Vayrus in Albussano 1275.
VARO the surname belongs to the Aristocracy in Savoy in Northern France.
VARO, VARRO and VARROL were found in the province of Burgos, an area of the Kingdom of Bastile, influential in the Middle Ages. This Spanish family had a coat of arms, a shield divided "per fess", the top half silver with blue "fleur de lys", and the bottom half gold with two black wolves "passant", with the top one facing "dexter" and the bottom one facing "sinister".
VARANO The family were numbered among the nobility in Ferrara, namely Fabrizio Varano as Bishop of Camerino in 1482 and Alfonso Varano, a poet who died in 1738.
Distribution of the name
Personal Family centred around Willington in County Durham.
Direct Ancestors from North Yorkshire, Wensleydale, Yoredale, Coverdale 1700-1970
Historically there are Vayro Family Branches whose descendants are still present in Manchester, Leeds, Northampton, Belper and elsewhere in the UK. There are also links with Varo families in Leeds and Bingley area who have the same Genealogical Ancestors (G5 William Vayro and Esther Lye) as myself.
Distant Relatives in Australia (Toowoomba, Queensland), Canada (Toronto), New Zealand and United States of America.
Theoretical connections with Italy where 146 Vairo Communities exist today are not yet proved.
Varo and Vairo existed in Peru in the 17 th Century, but links cannot be proven.
Vayro and Varo Database Website, (see URL link below)
Vayro Personal Family Website, (see URL link below)
A Collection of 30 Bound Booklets on various aspects of Vayro One Name (copies held in Durham Archives),
A total of 55 Individual Microsoft Excel Family Sheets with comprehensive data on B D M etc,
A Collection of Plastic Wallets (60 page) containing documented information, certificates, photographs, correspondence etc.
3 Discs of Genealogical Data deposited in the Guild Library
A collection of material has been added to the Vayro section of the Guild Library Archives at http://one-name.org/cgi-bin/library/search.cgi including an 122 page PDF backup of the family ancestry website.
I do not intend examining DNA of close family or distant relatives