Saturday, July 16, 2016

Surname Saturday ~ AYER of Salisbury and Haverhill, Massachusetts

AYER, EYRE, AYRES, and other variations (The Essex Antiquarian article listed below* has 29 spelling variations found in New England records).

My 10th great grandfather was John Ayer, whose arrival in New England is unknown despite the fact that several online and print sources claim he arrived on the Mary Anne in 1637 or the James in 1635.  He is not listed on the passenger lists of either ship.  John married a Hannah, maiden name unknown, around 1620 somewhere in England and they removed to Salisbury, Massachusetts about 1637.   He is on a list (undated) of men who were granted land in the first division of Colchester (renamed Salisbury).  His youngest child, Hannah (my 9th great grandmother) is the only Ayer child of John’s listed in the Salisbury vital records.  She was born 21 December 1644.

In 1645 John and his son, John Jr., owned land in Haverhill, Massachusetts in an area now known as Ayers Village.  They were both made Freemen at Ipswich on “4th day 9th month 1645” ( 4 October 1645). 

Some people claim that John’s wife Hannah was a Webb or an Everard.  There is no proof that she is a sister of John Everard alias Webb.  She is not listed in his will even though she was alive when the will was proved.  Her children were listed as cousins and as the children of John Ayer, so there is a possible kinship somewhere.   The Ayer family is not listed on the James, which brought John and Stephen Everard from England.  You can read more about John Everard alias Webb at the website by Jonathan Webb Deiss.  This website has a great list of sources.

John and Hannah Ayer’s daughter married Nathan Parker and was living in Ipswich.  She was hanged for witch craft on 22 September 1692 during the Salem witch hysteria. 

There are several famous AYER descendants including Laura Ingalls Wilder and President Gerald R. Ford.  A locally famous descendant, James Cook Ayer (1818 – 1878) was the namesake of the town of Ayer, Massachusetts.  He was the brother of the wealthy industrialist Frederick Ayer (1822 – 1918) and grandfather of Beatrice Banning Ayer, wife of General George S. Patton. 

Some AYER resources:

Ayer is not listed in the Great Migration series, so we know that Anderson did not consider John Ayer as a passenger on the James.  Besides the vital records, court records, and the usual Genealogical Dictionary of New England by Savage or Pioneers of Massachusetts by Pope there are two other good sources for more information on the Ayer family.

* “The Ayer Genealogy”, in The Essex Antiquarian, October 1900, Volume IV, No. 10, pages 145 – 150 (available online at for members of NEHGS).

The Ayer Genealogy “Descendants of the Immigrant John Ayer of Haverhill, Massachusetts” compiled by Janson Ayer

My AYER Genealogy:

Generation 1:  John Ayer, born about 1582 and died 31 March 1657 in Haverhill, Massachusetts; married about 1620 in England to Hannah Unknown. She was born about 1598 and died 8 October 1688 in Haverhill.  Nine children.

Generation 2: Hannah Ayer, born 21 December 1644 in Haverhill; married on 24 March 1662/3 in Haverhill to Stephen Webster as his first wife.  Six children.  He remarried to Judith, widow of William Broad. 

Generation 3: Abigail Webster m. Samuel Berry
Generation 4: Jotham Berry m. Mary Bates
Generation 5: Rachel Berry m. Ithamar Mace
Generation 6: Abigail Mace m. Simon Locke
Generation 7: Richard Locke m. Margaret Welch
Generation 8: Abigail M. Locke m. George E. Batchelder
Generation 9: George E. Batchelder m. Mary Katharine Emerson
Generation 10: Carrie Maude Batchelder m. Joseph Elmer Allen
Generation 11: Stanley Elmer Allen m. Gertrude Matilda Hitchings (my grandparents)


Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "Surname Saturday ~ AYER of Salisbury and Haverhill, Massachusetts", Nutfield Genealogy, posted July 16, 2016,  (  accessed [access date]).


  1. Abigail Webster (1675) was married to Samuel Berry, my 1st cousin 8 times removed ☺

  2. Hannay Ayer is my 9th great-grandmother. Stephen Webster and Hannah, son Stephen... Ebenezer... Ebenezer... Sarah m. Obadiah Morse... Leonard... Horace (Horise)... Abbie m. Myron Bowles... Maude m. Harry Martin Patridge... Harriet (my grandmother) m. Edward Norcross.