Last name origins & meanings:
- Scottish and English: topographic name for someone who lived by
an enclosure, Middle English hay(e), heye (Old English
(ge)hæg, which after the Norman Conquest became confused
with the related Old French term haye ‘hedge’, of Germanic
origin). Alternatively, it may be a habitational name from any of
various places named with this word, including Les Hays and La Haye in
Normandy. The Old French and Middle English word was used in
particular to denote an enclosed forest. Compare Haywood. This
name was taken to Ireland (County Wexford) by the Normans.
- Scottish and English: nickname for a tall man, from Middle English
hay, hey ‘tall’, ‘high’ (Old English hēah).
- Scottish and English: from the medieval personal name Hay,
which represented in part the Old English byname Hēah
‘tall’, in part a short form of the various compound names with the
first element hēah ‘high’.
- French: topographic name from
a masculine form of Old French haye ‘hedge’, or a habitational
name from Les Hays, Jura, or Le Hay, Seine-Maritime.
- Spanish: topographic name from haya ‘beech tree’
(ultimately derived from Latin fagus).
- German: occupational name from Middle High German heie ‘guardian’,
‘custodian’ (see Hayer).
- Dutch and Frisian: variant of
- The surname Hay is particularly common in Scotland, where it has
been established since 1160. The principal family of the name are of
Norman origin; they trace their descent from William de la Haye, who
was butler of Scotland in the reign of Malcolm IV (1153–65). They
hold the titles marquess of Tweeddale, earl of Kinnoul, and earl of
Erroll. The earl of Erroll also holds the hereditary office of
constable of Scotland, first bestowed on the family by Robert I in
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