Hayes Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Select Hayes Meaning
Hayes in England arose as a locational surname, associated with the
place-name Hayes in Kent, Middlesex, Devon, Dorset, or
Worcestershire. Hayes here could be the plural of hay meaning “enclosure;” or it
could come from hege,
“hedge;” or from haes,
“brushwood” or “underwood.” But the English Hayes numbers seem to
be less overall than those that have come from Scotland and Ireland.
The Hayes name had different origins there. In Scotland the name
came from the Normans and is Hay there but often Hayes on its
travels. In Ireland Hayes was generally an anglicization of the
Gaelic O’hAodha. Hayes may
be Jewish, from the Yiddish khaye
meaning “life.”

Hayes Resources on

Hayes Ancestry

Hayes in various

– Hayes, Heyes,
Heys, Hays and Hay – are to be found in England.

These are names primarily of northern England. One Lancashire
family history of Hayes traces itself back to a William Hey, born in
Leigh in 1634. The name became Heyes and then Hayes in the early

The Hayes name has in fact been
strongest in Lancashire, although this may reflect Irish
immigration. Hay by contrast has been stronger in
the border counties, reflecting probably a spillover from Scotland.

Scotland. In
Scotland the name Hay has Norman roots, being a direct translation of
the Norman de la Haye – la Haye (“the hedge”) being the name of
several towns in Normandy. The
legendary origin of the Hays
dates back to the Viking invasions
of the 10th
century, but has little basis in fact. The
first Hay in Scotland was in fact the Norman William II de la Haye in
the 12th
century. Clan Hay descends from him. Gilbert de Haye joined
the Bruce in the Scottish War of Independence and he was rewarded with
lands of Slain in Aberdeenshire.

The northeast of Scotland, around Aberdeenshire, has remained Hay
Hays were also to be found in Perthshire, East Lothian, and along the
borders. The Hays of Yester in East Lothian date from the 1350’s. John Hay, born in Peeblesshire around 1450,
was the forebear of the Hays who became Lord Tweeddale. John
Hay, the
first of Tweeddale, was Lord Chancellor of Scotland from 1692 to
Later Hays of this line commanded troops in the British army from the
Penninsular War to the Crimean War.

Ireland. Hayes is an
anglicization of a common Gaelic
surname O’hAodha, meaning
descendant of Aodh (“fire”),
although in SW Cork O’hAodha became
O’Hea and in Ulster Hughes. The Hayes name has been mainly
associated with the Dalcassian sept of Thomond to be found in Limerick
and Tipperary. From this area in the 19th century came the opera
singer Catherine
and the painters Edward Hayes and Michael Angelo

Hayes was noted on a public record in county Wexford as early as
1182. Here the surname was of Norman origin (de la Haye), having
been taken to Ireland by the Anglo-Normans. Hay was a principal
name in Wexford at the time of the 1659 census.

. The ancestry of American President Rutherford B.
Hayes began with his Scottish ancestor George Hayes who came to
Windsor, Connecticut in 1680. Hayes’s grandfather Rutherford left
his New Haven home during the Revolutionary War for the relative peace
of Vermont. His son, another Rutherford, was a Vermont
storekeeper who took his family to Ohio
in 1817. But he died there ten weeks before the birth of his son Rutherford Hayes
the future President, in
1822. Another branch of this family ended up later in Wisconsin.

Two other Hayes arrived in New England during the 17th century – Thomas
who came to Connecticut in 1645 and whose descendants are to be found
in New Jersey and John who came to New Hampshire in 1680 and was the
forebear of a large New England family.

The English Quaker Henry Hayes came to Pennsylvania in 1705 and
accepted a land grant from William Penn in Chester county.
Mordecai Hayes’ home at Embreeville, built in 1774, remains with the
Hayes family. Captain Joseph Hayes led a branch of this family to
Indiana in the early 1800’s (he was one of the first to purchase land
and settle there). Henry’s descendants celebrated the
bicentennial of his arrival in 1905 and the tricentennial in 2005.

Irish. The
largest number of Hayes in America, however, have come from
Ireland. Notable among these Hayes have been:

  • Tom Hayes from county Cork who arrived in San Francisco in 1849
    and was one of its early civic developers. In 1861 Tom Hayes
    constructed the first outdoor recreational park, Hayes Park.
    Hayes Valley and Hayes Street are named after him. He was the
    original franchisee of the Market Street Railway.
  • Daniel and Mary
    Hayes from Kerry who came to New York in 1864. Their son Patrick
    was Archbishop of New York from 1919 until his death in 1938. He
    was born in the Five Points section of Manhattan and, in his own words,
    “was born very humble and, I may say, of poor people.”
  • and another Hayes family, this time from Tipperary, who had come
    to New York in the 1880’s. Their son Johnny won the marathon race
    at the 1908 Olympics in London. His Olympic victory undoubtedly
    contributed to the early growth of long-distance running and
    marathoning in the United States.

The grande dame of American theater, Helen Hayes, had Irish
roots. Her maternal grandparents emigrated from Ireland at the
time of the potato famine. Her mother was a great-niece of Irish
singer Catherine Hayes.

Canada. Thomas
Hayes, a Protestant from county Armagh, came to Simcoe county in
Ontario with his wife in 1830. Thomas started an Orange Lodge on
his property in 1845. He went on to live to the grand age of a
hundred, dying
in 1882.

Four Hayes brothers and their Catholic families were said to have
arrived in Quebec from Ireland at the time of the famine and settled in
the Gatineau valley. Michael and Ellen Hayes were pioneers in
Pontiac county. Some of these Hayes moved onto Saskatchewan in
early 1900’s.

Australia. Sir Henry
Hayes, a native of Cork, had been made sheriff of the city and knighted
in 1790. But ten years later he was a convicted felon transported
to Australia. There his erratic personality would get him
into trouble with authorities. One judge commented:

“The first person I tried was Sir Henry
Browne Hayes for speaking insolently of Colonel Foveaux and
endeavoring to raise a riot. I reprimanded and discharged
him. Since which he has sent me two watermelons every week of
uncommon size and goodness. He is a gentlemanly man in his
manners, though odd in his dress and appearance. He has made a
vow never to cut the hair on his upper lip, which, is very long and
gives him a very formidable and grotesque appearance.”

He finally was able to receive a pardon and return back to Ireland for
the last twenty years of his life.

Another Irish convict, Michael Hayes from Wexford, was transported for
his participation in the 1798 rebellion. He later prospered as a
trader in Sydney. His brother was a representative of the Irish
Catholic Association in Rome and he championed the Catholic cause in
Australia. However, he was found drowned off the Market Wharf in
Sydney in 1825.

William Hayes
a child convict from England, transported to Tasmania in 1843 when
just twelve. His son Edmund, who started out at an
orphanage, became
one of the pioneer settlers in the Upper Natone district of Tasmania.


Hayes Miscellany

The Hay Legend.  The legendary
origin of the Hays in Hector Boece’s fables harks back to the year 971 when
Scotland was subjected to attack from Viking marauders.
King Kenneth II attempted to repel them, but
his army was routed in an engagement at Luncarty north of Perth.  A farmer and his two sons, ploughing in a
nearby field, had watched the proceedings.
These three men, all of huge physical stature, removed the yokes
their oxen and used them to bar the way of the fleeing Scots soldiery.  The peasant and his sons rallied the fleeing
troops and led them back to victory, driving the Danes into the Firth
of Tay.

The king was delighted and insisted that the
hero and his sons accompany him to Perth to receive suitable reward.  From the top of Kinnoull Hill, the king
a falcon, having decreed that all the land encompassed by the falcon’s
would become the property of the hero and his sons.
The bird landed on a stone at St Madoes and
the peasant became a rich man overnight.

The salient features of these events were commemorated in the
Hay coat
of arms, which included three bloodstained shields, the falcon which
their crest, the ox yoke adopted as the badge of the family, and two
who were the supporters.

It is a
colorful and romantic tale.  However, it
has little basis in fact.  The original
Hays were in fact Normans, deriving their name from the barony of La
Haye in
Normandy.  The first of   these
Hays was William II de la Haye who
arrived in Scotland in the 12th century. 

Hay, Hayes and Other Names in England and Scotland.  Hay is
Scottish, but does cross the border into northern England.
Hayes, Heys, and Hays are English, with a
basis in Lancashire.  The following table
shows their numbers in England and Scotland in the 1891 census.

Numbers (000’s) Hayes Heyes Heys Hays Hay Total
Northumberland    0.1    0.4    0.5
Durham    0.3    0.1    0.4    0.8
Yorkshire    1.3    0.1    0.1    0.2    0.4    2.1
Lancashire    4.3    2.5    1.9    0.1    0.7    9.5
Cheshire    0.8    0.1    0.9
Notts.    0.8    0.8
London    3.2    0.1    0.7    4.0
Elsewhere    6.8    0.2    0.2    0.5    1.5    9.2
Total   18.6    2.8    2.2    1.0    4.2   28.8
Scotland    0.3    8.0    8.3

Catherine Hayes, International Diva.  Catherine Hayes
was born in Limerick in 1825, the third daughter of Arthur and Mary Hayes.  Her father, a bandmaster of the
Limerick city
militia, deserted his family, causing great financial distress.

young Catherine helped her cousin Mrs.
Carroll who worked as a charwoman at Lord Limerick’s home.
There she was heard singing as she worked by
a Dr. Knox, a Church of Ireland Bishop who lived nearby.
He described her as having “the most beautiful
voice I have ever heard.”  He
immediately set about helping her and arranged sponsorship for her to
under Antonio Sapio in Dublin.

She gave
her first public performance there in 1839 at the age of 19.  Seven years later Catherine Hayes was prima
donna at La Scala in Milan and in 1849 she gave a Command Performance
for Queen
Victoria.  Sadly she died young, at the
age of 36, in 1861.

Early Hays in Kentucky.  Family tradition has it that William Hays and his family came from Rockbridge
county in Virginia to eastern Kentucky in 1791 and were one of the
families to settle in that part of Kentucky.
William was the son of old John Hays of Virginia who had served
in the
Virginia Militia during the French and Indian Wars.

A few years later, about 1795, William moved
with his family to the Snowden Branch area of Breathitt county near the
of Quicksand Creek.  The old Hays
cemetery at the top of Snowden Branch Hill has hundreds of Hays graves.
Most of them are only field stones for
tombstones.  But it is almost certain
that William and his family were buried beneath the ground here.  The tombstone of William’s grandson William,
marked “Wm. CV Hase, died 1855,” can be seen there today.

Rutherford Hayes and Deaths in His Family.  President
Rutherford Hayes lived in an age when death, particularly at a young age, was far more
common than it is today.  He himself was
the posthumous son of Ruddy Hayes who had left his native Vermont to
settle in
Delaware, Ohio, only to die there of a local fever.
Of Sophia and Ruddy Hayes’ five offspring,
only Rutherford and his older sister Fanny were to survive the
vicissitudes of

Rutherford’s wife Lucy
suffered all of her life from severe headaches.
She died in 1889, just before her 58th birthday, from a massive
apoplectic stroke – which was probably the result of undiagnosed high

Three of the Rutherford Hayes family of eight children died during
the second summer of their lives.  Hayes
sadly recorded in his diary the death of little Joseph from teething
dysentery in 1863, of George Crook from scarlet fever in 1866, and of
Force, eighth and last child, in 1874, from summer complaint.

The Troubled Times of William Hayes.  William Hayes
had been shipped to Australia on the Asiatic
in 1843 as a twelve year old boy, having been tried in London for
“stealing eight pairs of shoes” and sentenced to transportation for
ten years.  He arrived in Hobart on
September 23, 1843 and was sent to the Point Puer prison for boys.

William’s record there
was checkered.  In 1848 he was committed
to trial for allegedly stabbing John Maddock with intent.
In the end he was found guilty of assault
only, but sentenced to prison for three years in Hobart and given hard

William obtained his Ticket of Leave in 1852
and married
Catherine Lyons
that year.  They had three
daughters.  But it seems that Catherine
left him as the girls were placed in an orphanage.
In 1861 William married Jane McClure in
Hadspan, Tasmania and they had four children.

However, three years later, William was charged with indecently
assaulting one of his daughters from his marriage to Catherine Lyons
and was
sentenced to two years in jail.  While in
prison he was found guilty of threatening to stab a fellow inmate and
was sentenced
to an additional three months in jail.
During that time his children by Jane McClure ended up in an

His prisoner discharge document stated his age as
41 yrs, his height as 5′ 4″ and his hair as dark.  He
had the following distinguishing marks –
anchor, crucifix and mermaid on his right arm and a mermaid on his left
arm.  Nothing
further was
known of William Hayes after his release.

Hayes Fishermen in Limerick.  The Abbey
fishermen consisted primarily of three Catholic families – Hayes,
Clancy and
McNamara – who lived in the Abbey area of Limerick city.

They used a traditional fishing boat called
the brecaun which was about twenty-four foot long and two and a half
wide.  The boat was operated and used by
two men, one at the fore and the other at aft.  It
was steered over shallow water with the use
of a pole.  A paddle was used on other
occasions.  They caught the fish using a
snap net.

The fishermen generally had
nicknames.  The following were the
nicknames of the Hayes fishermen in the 1930’s, together with their
date of birth.

Fisherman Birth Nickname
Thomas Hayes 1868 Hackney
Robert Hayes 1872 Napoleon
Martin Hayes 1874 Rab
John Hayes Sr. 1880 Bone
Patrick Hayes 1887 Sunlight
Michael Hayes 1891 Lully
Patrick Hayes 1894 Randy
Thomas Hayes 1903 Bantrum
Christy Hayes 1907 Susi or Sonny
Michael Hayes 1912 Starry
John Hayes Jr. 1912 O.K.


Hayes Names

John Hay of Tweeddale
was Lord Chancellor of Scotland from 1692 to 1696.
Catherine Hayes was a
19th century opera soprano, the first Irish-born to achieve
international acclaim.
Rutherford Hayes was the 19th
President of the United States, taking office in 1877.
Helen Hayes was an American
actress whose long career garnered her the nickname of “first Lady of
the American theater.”
Woody Hayes was a long-serving
American college footbal coach, best known for his time with the Ohio
State Buckeyes.
Gabby Hayes was an American
screen actor, best known for his appearance in Westerns.

Select Hayes Numbers Today

  • 43,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Lancashire)
  • 73,000 in America (most numerous in California)
  • 46,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)




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