Hayes/Hughes – from Ireland, Britain and France

History of the Irish names Hughes and Hayes. Image copyright Ireland Calling

Hayes is a popular surname throughout Ireland and the English speaking world. It has Irish, English, Scottish and Norman origins.

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In 1990 it was one of the 100 most common surnames in the USA. It is also a popular personal name in many countries.

As there are a number of different origins of the name there are also several variations. Some variations are far more likely to come from certain origins than others. Some of the most common variations include Haye, Hay, O’Hea and Hughes.History of the Irish name Hayes. Image copyright Ireland Calling

Irish Hayes

In Ireland, a version of the name originated in Co Cork. It is derived from the old Gaelic name O hAodha. The ‘O’ prefix means ‘grandson of’ or descendent of’ and hAodha comes from the Gaelic ‘Aodh’ or ‘Aed’ which is the name of a mythical prince and god of the Irish underworld.

The word Aodh also means fire. The god Aodh was the son of the sea god Lir. The Hayes family were somewhat unusual in Ireland in naming themselves after a mythical god as most families were named after the leader or chief of their clan.

The name became anglicised

Over the centuries the name O hAodha became anglicised because under British occupation it was difficult for people with Irish sounding names to find a job.

In most parts of the country, the name became Hayes. However, in Co Cork the more common variation was O’Hea. In Ulster, the name was often changed to Hughes which was an anglicised version of the name Aodh.

It should be noted that while many people named Hughes may be from the Hayes family line, there is another common origin that came from the French name Hughe. The name came to Britain with the Normans in 1066, before arriving in Ireland just over a century later.

In Co Wexford, the name Hayes is more likely to have English origin than Irish. It would have been introduced following the Norman Invasion in 1169.

English Hayes

In England, the name originated as a locational surname. People would take a locational surname if they moved from one place to another, usually to find work. Their locational surname would differentiate them from other people in their new town.

There were several places called Hayes in the south of the country such as Devon, Dorset, Kent and Middlesex. In turn these places got their names as descriptions of the type of places they were. The name came from the Old English words ‘haes’ which meant bushwood or underwood, ‘horg’ which meant enclosure (an area fenced off for hunting), and ‘hege’ which meant hedge.

Another popular English origin is from the Middle Ages nickname ‘hay’ or ‘hey’ which meant ‘tall’.

Scottish Hayes

In Scotland, the name was introduced in the 11th century following the Norman Invasion. It came from William II de la Haye who arrived with the Normans. William was the ancestor of the Scottish Hayes, which had a more common variation – Hay.

William’s surname translated as ‘of La Haye’ or ‘of the hedge’. La Haye was the name of a number of towns in Normandy, France.

Another origin could be from the Yiddish name ‘Khaye’ which means ‘Life’.

Famous Hayes

Isaac Hayes. Photo copyright William Henderson CC2
Issac Hayes

Isaac Hayes was a singer-songwriter and actor from Tennessee, USA. He was a legend of ‘Southern soul’ music. He won an Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1972 for ‘Theme From Shaft’ from the movie, Shaft.

Later in his career, he found fame among a new generation of fans as the voice of ‘Chef’ in the animated comedy South Park. He was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2005.

Hunter Hayes is an American country singer-songwriter. He can play over 30 instruments and is the youngest man ever to reach the top of the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart. He has sold millions of albums during his career.

Allison Hayes was an American actress. She appeared in several movies and TV series during the 1950s and 60s including Attack of the 50 Foot Woman and Wolf Dog.

Colin Hay was the lead singer of the Australian band Men at Work. Men at Work were the first Australian band to simultaneously hold the number one spot on the Billboard singles and albums charts. After leaving the band, Hay had a successful solo career.

Mark Hughes
Mark Hughes

Sporting Hayes/Hughes

Mark Hughes is a Welsh soccer manager and former player. He played for top clubs such as Manchester United, Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Chelsea. He won several trophies including the Premier League and FA Cup numerous times. He was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame.

He went on to become a manager and spent the majority of his career in the Premier League. He also had a spell as manager of his country.

David Haye was a champion boxer from London, England. He spent much of his career as a cruiserweight and became world champion before unifying the division by winning the WBA, WBC, WBO and The Ring versions of the title.

He then moved up in weight and became WBA Heavyweight Champion of the World when he beat ‘The Russian Giant’ Nikolia Valuev.

Variations of the surname

There are many variations of the surname Hayes including Hay, Haye, Hea, Hease, Heyse, Hughes and O’Hea.

Video histories of popular Irish names

Irish names and their meanings