Major History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms 

The name Major came to England with the ancestors of the Major family in the Norman Conquest of 1066. It comes from the Norman given name Mauger. The name indicates one who is the son of Maugier, an Old French personal name, which is derived from the Old Germanic name Malger, which means council spear. [1]

Early Origins of the Major family

The surname Major was first found in Normandy where Mauguer was the third son of Richard I, Duke of Normandy and his second wife, Gunnora. He ruled as Count of Corbeil through his wife Germaine de Corbeil.

Mauger (or Malger) was the youngest son of Richard II and his second wife, Papia of Envermeu. He rose to become Archbishop of Rouen in 1037. However, as he opposed the marriage of Duke William and Matilda of Flanders in 1049, he was banished from Rouen to the Isle of Guernsey. There he married Gisella or Guille "without sanction of the Church, he formed an intimacy that resulted in numerous progeny, some of whom took their father's, others their mother's name. 'Hence,' observes a correspondent 'Guilles and Maugers are as plentiful as blackberries on the Channel Islands'"[2]. The Norman poet Wace (c.1110-1174), related stories of his life on the Channel Islands some 100 years later.

Another Mauger was royal clerk and physician before he was elected to the see of Worcester in 1199, a position held until his death in 1212. Sir Mathias Mayer (Mayor), originally a Jerseyman was ancestor of the Majors of Hampshire.

Over in England, "the font-name was fairly popular in the 13th century. Mauger is found as a single personal name in the Hundred Rolls." [3] However, the Hundred Rolls (Hundredorum Rolls) of 1273 had listings as a surname too: Thomas filius Mager in Lincolnshire; Walter Mauger in Cambridgeshire; and Richard Malgor in Buckinghamshire. [3]

Important Dates for the Major family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Major research. Another 55 words (4 lines of text) covering the years 1469, 1550, 1615, 1655 and are included under the topic Early Major History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Major Spelling Variations

Anglo-Norman names tend to be marked by an enormous number of spelling variations. This is largely due to the fact that Old and Middle English lacked any spelling rules when Norman French was introduced in the 11th century. The languages of the English courts at that time were French and Latin. These various languages mixed quite freely in the evolving social milieu. The final element of this mix is that medieval scribes spelled words according to their sounds rather than any definite rules, so a name was often spelled in as many different ways as the number of documents it appeared in. The name was spelled Major, Mauger, Magor, Maior, Mayer, Mayor, Mager and others.

Early Notables of the Major family (pre 1700)

Another 29 words (2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Major Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Migration of the Major family to Ireland

Some of the Major family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 73 words (5 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Major migration to the United States

Because of the political and religious discontent in England, families began to migrate abroad in enormous numbers. Faced with persecution and starvation at home, the open frontiers and generally less oppressive social environment of the New World seemed tantalizing indeed to many English people. The trip was difficult, and not all made it unscathed, but many of those who did get to Canada and the United States made important contributions to the young nations in which they settled. Some of the first North American settlers with Major name or one of its variants:

Major Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Edward Major, who arrived in Virginia in 1637 [4]
  • Phi Major, who landed in Virginia in 1637 [4]
  • Tho Major, who arrived in Virginia in 1645 [4]
  • John Major and Thomas Major who both settled in Virginia in 1645
  • Eliza Major, who landed in Virginia in 1645 [4]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Major Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Math Major, who landed in Virginia in 1705 [4]
  • Mary Major, who landed in Virginia in 1706 [4]
  • James Major, who settled in Virginia in 1773
  • James Major, who landed in New York in 1795 [4]
  • Frederick William Major, who landed in America in 1798 [4]
Major Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Henry Major, who arrived in New York, NY in 1803 [4]
  • John Rudolph Major, aged 30, who landed in Maryland in 1812 [4]
  • Joseph Major, aged 30, who arrived in America in 1822 [4]
  • Mary Major, who settled in Boston with her husband and three children in 1822
  • Bartholomaus Major, who arrived in North America in 1837 [4]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Major migration to Canada

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Major Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Mr. Edward Major U.E. who settled in Parr Town, Saint John, New Brunswick c. 1784 [5]

Major migration to Australia

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Major Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Samuel Major, English convict from Middlesex, who was transported aboard the "Andromeda" on November 13, 1832, settling in New South Wales, Australia [6]
  • Samuel Major, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Mary Dugdale" in 1840 [7]
  • William Major, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Himalaya" in 1849 [8]
  • William Major, aged 21, a labourer, who arrived in South Australia in 1849 aboard the ship "Himalaya" [8]
  • George Major, aged 18, who arrived in South Australia in 1852 aboard the ship "Omega" [9]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Major migration to New Zealand

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Major Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Mr. M. Major, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Simlah" arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on 10th June 1853 [10]
  • Miss Mary Jane Major, (b. 1835), aged 26, English nursery governess from Middlesex travelling from London aboard the ship "Victoria" arriving in Lyttelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand on 30th March 1862 [10]
  • Miss Julia Major, (b. 1839), aged 22, English nursery governess from Middlesex travelling from London aboard the ship "Victoria" arriving in Lyttelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand on 30th March 1862 [10]
  • Miss Sarah Major, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Victory " arriving in Lyttelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand on 17th October 1863 [10]
  • Mr. Oliver Major, (b. 1869), aged 8 months, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship 'Merope' arriving in Lyttelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand on 27th October 1870 [11]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Major (post 1700)

  • Léo Major DCM & Bar (1921-2008), American-born, French Canadian soldier, the only Canadian to ever receive the Distinguished Conduct Medal twice in separate wars; he single highhandedly liberated the city of Zwolle in the Netherlands from German army occupation on April 13, 1945
  • Elliot Woolfolk Major (1864-1949), American lawyer and Democratic politician, 33rd Governor of Missouri (1913-1917), Attorney General of Missouri (1909-1913)
  • Clarence Major (b. 1936), American poet, novelist and painter
  • Sir John Major KG, CH, PC (b. 1943), Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1990–1997
  • Dame Malvina Lorraine Major GNZM, DBE (b. 1943), award-winning New Zealand opera singer
  • William James Major (1881-1953), Canadian politician and jurist
  • Patricia Major Dineen (1936-1961), American ice dancer
  • Major-General Rupert Major Downes (1885-1945), Director Medical Services 2nd Australian Army from 1942 to 1944 [12]
  • Charles Major Dorsey, American politician, Member of Georgia State House of Representatives from White County, 1949-50 [13]
  • Major Dodson, American actor known for his roles on The Walking Dead, American Horror Story and Left Behind

Historic Events for the Major family

HMS Prince of Wales
  • Mr. Michael John Herbert Major, British Lieutenant, who sailed into battle on the HMS Prince of Wales and died in the sinking [14]
HMS Repulse
  • Mr. W S Major, British Surgeon Lieutenant "D", who sailed into battle on the HMS Repulse and survived the sinking [15]
RMS Titanic
  • Mr. Thomas Edgar Major (d. 1912), aged 35, English Bath Steward from Southampton, Hampshire who worked aboard the RMS Titanic and died in the sinking [16]
  • Mr. William James Major, aged 32, English Fireman/Stoker from Southampton, Hampshire who worked aboard the RMS Titanic and survived the sinking escaping on life boat 13 [16]

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Citations

  1. ^ Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  2. ^ Lowe, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  3. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  4. ^ Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  5. ^ Rubincam, Milton. The Old United Empire Loyalists List. Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc, 1976. (Originally published as; United Empire Loyalists. The Centennial of the Settlement of Upper Canada. Rose Publishing Company, 1885.) ISBN 0-8063-0331-X
  6. ^ State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2014, November 27) Andromeda voyage to New South Wales, Australia in 1832 with 186 passengers. Retrieved from http://www.convictrecords.com.au/ships/andromeda/1832
  7. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) MARY DUGDALE 1840. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1840MaryDugdale.gif
  8. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) The HIMALAYA 1849. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1849Himalaya.htm
  9. ^ South Australian Register Tuesday 3 February 1852. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) OMEGA 1852. Retrieved http://www.theshipslist.com/ships/australia/omega1852.shtml
  10. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 26th March 2019). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  11. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  12. ^ Generals of World War II. (Retrieved 2011, August 30) Rupert Downes. Retrieved from http://generals.dk/general/Downes/Rupert_Major/Australia.html
  13. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, October 21) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html
  14. ^ HMS Prince of Wales Crew members. (Retrieved 2014, April 9) . Retrieved from http://www.forcez-survivors.org.uk/biographies/listprincecrew.html
  15. ^ HMS Repulse Crew members. (Retrieved 2014, April 9) . Retrieved from http://www.forcez-survivors.org.uk/biographies/listrepulsecrew.html
  16. ^ Titanic Passenger List - Titanic Facts. (Retrieved 2016, July 13) . Retrieved from http://www.titanicfacts.net/titanic-passenger-list.html
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