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Variations: O'Neny, O'Nena, L'Oiseau, L'Oise, Lois, Layse
Origin: France via England
Related Users: none
Geni Database: Bird

The surname BIRD was first attached to an individual who lived by the sign of the bird; also to one who had the characteristics of a bird. The Irish word for bird is éan, and names such as O'Neny (sometimes O'Nena), among the chiefs of Moy Ith (County Derry, Ireland) and McEaneny have been Anglicised to Bird since colonists attempted to subjugate the Gaelic way of life. Also the French name L'Oiseau has been anglicised to Bird.

Hugh Le Bird (Hughe L'Oise or Lois or Layse) arrived in England with William the Conqueror in 1066 to fight at the Battle of Hastings. His surname is thought to have been derived from his skill at falconry. By the twelfth century the name LE BIRD was well established in England.

The earliest English Birds settled at Brexton or Braxton and at Chester in Cheshire. Many of the Bird descendants travelled to London about the beginning of the thirteenth century to learn trades, such as: silversmiths, goldsmiths, coppersmiths, silk weavers, etc. Some became merchants. A few became artists.

Sometime around the 15th century some families changed the spelling to Byrd. In fact there is at least one example of this taking place in the same family, with two brothers each selecting an alternate spelling. The reason for this is unknown.

Several Birds are listed in the Heraldic Visitations of Cheshire 1580, which also describe the Crest used by some Birds at that time.

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