BYRES Surname

The Byres surname (or variants) have not been proven to originate in any one single location or from one individual person although they have a preponderance of very early recording of this surname in Scotland.

Thomas de Byres, who in 1392 owned lands in Edinburgh. 1

1468. Robert Birs, notary.

1469. Duncan of Birs, Aberdeenshire.

1502. John Byrs and George Byrs in Montrose (mentioned in a charter). 2

1565. Bernard Byre, "Ducheman" 3

1574. Duncan Wrytin, and Christen Byrris, married 4th July. They had a son named James, bap. 7th Feb 1573. (Unless there is a mistake in the register, it would appear this son was born out of wedlock). 4

1578. Alexander Byeris, and Janet Blinschell, had a son named Christion, bapt. 14th Sept. 4

1585. James Byris is mentioned. 5

1590. Thomas Byris, in Ardgowan, Ayrshire. 3

1592. 2nd Sept Margaret Hunter, in Kincardine O'Neil, and Andrew Byres, her son, when Patrick Hunter, burgess of Aberdeen, is their cautioner for 500 each, that they will not harm Patrick Leslie, son of James Leslie, burgess of Aberdeen, or Janet Hunter his spouse. 6

1593. 14th Nov Thomas Byris, in Ressavit, Aberdeenshire. 7

1595. Geordie Byris, in Lymkills, county Dumfries. 8

1618. David Gray, and Margaret Byrris, a daughter Janet, 27th June. 4

1623. James Byres, in Ardgowan (probably a son of the above named gentleman).

One possible origin of this surname could be ...

... of the lands and barony of Byres in East-Lothian ...9

This barony is described as containing -

... lands of the Byres which were held in ward and relief of his majesty in time bygone, namely: the said lands and mains of Drem, Dremhill, Coittis, Middlethird, Coittaikers within Drem, Sanyngis, Muretoun, Mungoswells, Garleton and Harvieston ... 10

... and may have included a castle -

Anciently, Byres was held by the Dunbar family of the coastal fortress of Dunbar Castle. Byres is said by some to have been one of the “seven warsteeds of Dunbar.” There is still much debate as to which seven castles made up the “warsteeds”. But a possible list would include obviously *Dunbar Castle, Byres Castle, Luffness Castle near Aberlady, Hailes Castle near East Linton, Stoneypath Tower near Garvald all in East Lothian; then Coldbrandspath (Cockburnspath) Tower and Billie Castle near Chirnside in the Borders. (*There is the possibility that Dunbar Castle itself was not regarded as a “warsteed” since it was the family seat. This being the case then Fast Castle near St Abbs may have been the missing seventh “warsteed”.) 11