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Gayre Family History & Ancestry

Family Crest Motto: SUPER ASTRA SPRO (I hope beyond the stars)

Let me share with you the captivating history of your family, the Gayres, tracing back through the ages. There are different beliefs surrounding the origin of the name, with some suggesting it comes from the Gaelic word ‘gearr,’ meaning stocky, while in the Orkneys and Shetlands, it may have derived from the Norse word ‘geirr,’ which means ‘spear.’ These ancient roots have likely given rise to various branches of Gairs and Gayres.

However, your family maintains a different belief regarding its origin. It is believed that your family’s roots can be traced back to the Cornish family of ‘de Kayre,’ who held many manors in Cornwall. It is said that a cadet line of Otys (or Otis) Gayre, hailing from the manor of Gayre in Cornwall, settled in Rothshire around 1649. The reasons behind Otis’s departure from sunny Cornwall to the far north remain shrouded in mystery, but it is speculated that his beliefs, possibly religious in nature, played a role. Through marriage to the MacCullochs, the family swiftly acquired the lands of Nigg. Alexander Gayre of Nigg and his son Thomas continued to expand the family’s holdings. In 1679, Thomas became a notary public, marking an important milestone in the family’s history. Thomas, the fourth laird of Nigg, served as Chancellor of the diocese of Ross and held the position of notary public at Fort Rose. He also engaged in trade and served as a councillor for Cromarty, a bustling seaport. The Gayres became entangled in the ecclesiastical issues that arose during the eighteenth century. In 1756, Thomas Gayre unsuccessfully opposed the royal candidate for the church at Nigg. The family became Dissenters, opposing the state-supported church, and William Gayre donated land at Balchreggan for the establishment of a dissenters chapel. Unfortunately, the church was demolished when the land lease expired, making way for the construction of Shandwick House, which eventually collapsed.

In more recent history, Robert Gair, the first recognized chief, played a significant role in shaping the family’s fortunes. He served as the Minister for Education in the Allied occupation of Italy after the Second World War and was granted an augmentation to the clan arms by King Umberto, adding the royal knots of Savoy. Robert established the family seat at Minard Castle in Argyll, a castle originally built by the Campbells of Knockbuie in the eighteenth century. Since the end of the war, Robert has worked tirelessly to strengthen the family in both numbers and name. His book, “Gayre’s Booke: Being a History of the Family of Gayre” (1947), has become a cornerstone in understanding the family’s history, importance, and traditions. Today, Reinold Gayre of Gayre and Nigg proudly carries on the legacy as the current chief of the clan, representing your family’s rich heritage.

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Family Crest Motto: SUPER ASTRA SPRO (I hope beyond the stars)

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