With no records of Nicholas’ parents and no birth record, we have no idea if Nicholas was Irish, Scot, or English. The Hays or Hayes surname is very common in the English language. In 1990 Hayes was the 100th most common surname recorded. The oldest on record dates to 1197 in Oxfordshire England where it appears on the form Heise. There are nineteen coat of arms assumed with individuals with this or a similar surname. The regions of origin for this surname are England, Ireland, and Scotland. Related names are Hay, Haye, Hays, Heas, Heyes, Highes, O’Hea, Hease, Heyes, Heise, Hughes.
In Scotland, Hayes is a Scoto-Norman surname, a direct translation of the Normans’ locational surname “de la Haye”, meaning “of La Haye”, La Haye (“the hedge”) being the name of several towns on the Cotentin peninsula of Normandy, France. The first Norman namebearer to arrive in Scotland was William II de la Haye in the time of the Norman invasion. Clan Hay descends from him. In England, Hayes arose as a locational surname, associated with one of the several places named “Hayes”, such as locations in Kent, Middlesex, Devon and Dorset. Such place names had two origins, one based on the Old English haes (brushwood, underwood) and the other based on horg (enclosure) or hege (hedge). The distribution of Hayes in Great Britain in 1881 and 1998 is similar and restricted to areas of England well separated from Scotland and showing some penetration into Wales. This surname has gained in popularity in the century between 1881 and 1998, but remains at a rank of <150 and a frequency lower than that in the United States and some other countries of the Commonwealth.
In Ireland, Hayes originated as a Gaelic polygenetic surname “O hAodha”, meaning descendant of Aodh (“fire”), or of Aed, an Irish mythological god. Septs in most counties anglicised “O hAodha” to “Hayes”. In County Cork, it became “O’Hea”. In County Ulster, it became “Hughes”, the patronymic of Hugh, an anglicized variant of the given name Aodh. Hayes is noted on a public record in County Wexford as early as 1182. In County Cork, under the Munster providence, Hayes falls under the banner of the McNamara clan in the Dalcassian Sept.