Weir Surname Genealogy
place-name Vere in Normandy, from the Norse word ver or “dam,” gave rise to the
powerful de Vere
family who came to England and held the title of Earl
of Oxford from 1141 to 1703. A branch of these de Veres were to
be found in Scotland from 1165. They became Weirs
in Scotland around the year 1500.
Weir Resources on
- The Name is Weir
Bill Weir’s website.
- Weir Family Origins
Ancestors of Alexander Nicholl Weir.
- The Weir History
Weirs in America.
- Weir DNA Project
Weir family was said to have begun in Scotland in 1165 when Ralph (or
Radulphus) de Vere fled to Scotland after a dispute with his
Anglo-Norman father, the Earl of Oxford. In return for his new
allegiance to King William I, the Lion of Scotland, Ralph was granted
lands in Lanarkshire.
The Weirs of Blackwood in Lanarkshire claim descent from him.
Richard de Vere was proprietor of the barony of Blackwood around the
year 1296 and is often called the ancestor of all Weirs in
Scotland. However, it was not until the time of Thomas Weir,
around 1500, that the de Vere name became Weir in Scotland.
The 16th century saw many skirmishes between the Weirs and their
Weirs seem to have had a long-running feud with the Lockharts who were
accused of many murders during this time but were never punished
because of their rank.
feuded also with their cousins the Weirs of Stonebyres who in
retaliation changed their name back to Vere in the 18th century.
James Vere of Stonebyres frittered the family fortune away at that
time. From the Stonebyres line came Thomas Weir who was burnt at the
stake with his sister for reputed sorcery in 1670.
area around Lanark remained the focal point for Weirs in
Scotland. By 1881, 70% of all Weirs in Scotland were still based
in Lanarkshire. The town
of Cathcart near Glasgow was where the global Weir Group started its life in
Ireland. Many Weirs began to migrate to Ulster when
persecution started at home against the Covenanters. The
Rev. John Weir, the Presbyterian minster at Dolserf (near Lanark and
Lesmahagow) was sent to Antrim “to administer the Covenant to all of
the officers and soldiers and Protestants in Ireland.” However, he was
imprisoned and died in Mingarie castle in 1643.
Other Weirs followed the path to Ulster. In 1664 John Weir had
married Jane Adams and moved to Straid in Antrim. These Weirs
became the village corn millers. By the 1890’s the family
business had expanded to include a farm, a forge, and a carpenter’s
shop. Many Weirs settled around Ballymena. Other Weirs were
to be found in Desertcreat parish, Tyrone.
America. Scots Irish
Weirs transplanted themselves to America:
in the Cathcart community in Chester county, Pennsylvania (the
graveyard shows George Weir who died there, aged 92, in 1806)
Weirs headed for Bucks county in Pennsylvania or to the Borden
land grant in Virginia’s Shenandoah valley.
who arrived in
1718, was one of the first settlers of Londonderry, New Hampshire.
Robert Weir, born in Paisley, had come to America around 1790
and settled in New Rochelle near New York. His son Robert became
well-known as an educator and painter, being one of the leaders of the
Hudson river school of painting. Robert and his wife had sixteen
children, many of whom were painters in their own right. The
youngest, Julian Weir, was the best-known.
Canada. Many Weirs from
Scotland made their way to Canada in the 19th century. Two
William Weirs came to Montreal in mid-century and had very different
- the first William Weir arrived in 1842, starting out as a
book-keeper and rose to become an influential businessman and banker in
Montreal. However, in 1899 he got caught up in a bank collapse
and went to jail. His son committed suicide and he died six years
later, a discredited man.
- the second William Weir came in 1852 and he spent his time as a
Surveyor of Customs in the port of Montreal. He had two
more famous sons – William who became a Quebec Cabinet Minister and
Robert who wrote the lyrics of O
Canada, the Canadian national anthem.
Robert de Vere Weir,
the so-called Laird, headed west to Vancouver Island in 1852.
New Zealand. Daniel Weir
came out from Edinburgh with his family on the Blundell in 1848. He
settled to farm in Otago, South Island. He had six sons by his
first wife Catherine who all became successful farmers; and, after she
died, six sons by his second wife Alison.
If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:
Ralph de Vere, who arrived in Scotland in 1165, is considered
to be the forebear of the Blackwood Weirs of Lanarkshire.
Robert Walter Weir was one of
the leaders of the Hudson river school of painting in America in the
and James Weir founded the engineering company Weir in Cathcart
near Glasgow in 1871. This has now become the global Weir Group.
Weir is an accomplished Australian film director who has had
numerous hits in America.
Select Weirs Today
- 16,000 in the UK (most numerous
- 7,000 in America (most numerous in California)
- 15,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)
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