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Pair - Pare - Pear
Surname Resource Center
Origins & Ideas
I was in Wales in June 2003, and my father, who definitely has the "Pair look", looks very much like the Welsh people. While looking through a museum, Celtica, I came across the word Pair posted. It seems that Pair is the Celtic word for cauldron.
A Pair Coat of Arms is recorded in Burke's General Armory, however that specific lineage is unknown to me. Please be aware, that a coat of arms is often specific to an individual, not to everyone else with that surname, or even to the owner's descendants.
Halberts attributes the Pair surname to patronymical origins, believed associated with French and English, meaning: "descendant of Pierre."
Where did the Pair family originate? I don't know, but I have noticed a pattern. The Pare and Pair families in the north and northeast parts of the US, and some in the area of New Orleans, tend to be French Canadian. The Pair and Pare families from Virginia, all across the southern US, to Texas, and on to California, appear to be, for the most part, descendants of William Pair born about 1693 and lived in Sussex and Surry Counties in Virginia. And then there are a lot of unconnected (or perhaps, not yet connected) Pear families across the central part of the US, who migrated to the US in the 1800s from central Europe, often Bohemia.
My earliest known Pair ancestor was born in 1780 in N.C. I don't know what country my Pair origins came from. A sweep of census records show Pair (and all spelling variations) families report having been born in Canada, France, England, Scotland, Ireland, Sweden, Poland, Germany, Austria, Bohemia, Italy, and Russia. Either they traveled a lot, or more likely, similar sounding names cropped up in many areas. Why so many different spellings? Spelling was not important when so many people could not read and write. Nor was it important to the many clerks struggling to understand different accents. Many times the spelling of a name was decided upon by the local schoolteacher. Which spelling is right? They all are! Each name is right for the family using it, even when brothers chose different spellings, as sometimes happened. Spelling is not important, people are!
Use of first vs. middle vs. nicknames vs. initials, causes a lot of confusion in research. I'd like to use Judy's search as an example. She wrote me that she KNEW her Henry & Jane Pair and their son John, were in a certain county and state, but they weren't in the census. I searched my records and didn't find Henry and Jane in the census or in my database. However, when I searched for John, there was a man that age and in that county, only his parents were James H. & Sarah J. Could James H. be Henry, and Sarah J. be Jane? A few emails confirming the other children in the family, proved this correct. My point is that when you can't find your family, be sure you search for other possible spellings. When I couldn't find one of my family under Pair, I searched the indexes again for other possible spellings. One was indexed as Pehr, but when I looked up the original record, it was spelled Pair as clearly as could be.
Email your hostess Elayne Pair Gibbons