Major History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The Major name is derived form the Basque word "maiora" which means "heather, moor or heath;" as such it was likely a topographic name for someone who lived near a moor. The surname also comes from a Spanish word "mayor," meaning "head" or "chief" that was an occupational name for the foreman of a gang of agricultural workers or the leader of a group of herdsmen.

Early Origins of the Major family

The surname Major was first found in Navarre, where they came from the Valley of Baztan.

Early History of the Major family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Major research. Another 31 words (2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Major History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Major Spelling Variations

Spelling variations of this family name include: Mayerdomo, Mayoral, Majoral, Mayol and others.

Early Notables of the Major family (pre 1700)

More information is included under the topic Early Major Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Major migration to the United States +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Major Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Edward Major, who arrived in Virginia in 1637 [1]
  • Phi Major, who landed in Virginia in 1637 [1]
  • Tho Major, who arrived in Virginia in 1645 [1]
  • John Major and Thomas Major who both settled in Virginia in 1645
  • Eliza Major, who landed in Virginia in 1645 [1]
  • ... (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 [1]
  • Mary Major, who landed in Virginia in 1706 [1]
  • James Major, who settled in Virginia in 1773
  • James Major, who landed in New York in 1795 [1]
  • Frederick William Major, who landed in America in 1798 [1]
Major Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Henry Major, who arrived in New York, NY in 1803 [1]
  • John Rudolph Major, aged 30, who landed in Maryland in 1812 [1]
  • Joseph Major, aged 30, who arrived in America in 1822 [1]
  • Mary Major, who settled in Boston with her husband and three children in 1822
  • Bartholomaus Major, who arrived in North America in 1837 [1]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada 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 [2]

Australia 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
  • Mrs. Amelia Major, (b. 1795), aged 17, English house wife who was convicted in Middlesex, England for 7 years for larceny, transported aboard the "Emu" in October 1812, the ship was captured and the passengers put ashore, the convicts were then transported aboard the "Broxburnebury" in January 1812 arriving in New South Wales, Australia, she died in 1863 [3]
  • Samuel Major, English convict from Middlesex, who was transported aboard the "Andromeda" on November 13, 1832, settling in New South Wales, Australia [4]
  • Mr. William Major, (b. 1808), aged 29, English groom who was convicted in Exeter, Devon, England for 7 years for stealing, transported aboard the "Blenheim" on 11th March 1837, arriving in Tasmania ( Van Diemen's Land) [5]
  • Samuel Major, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Mary Dugdale" in 1840 [6]
  • William Major, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Himalaya" in 1849 [7]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand 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 [8]
  • 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 [8]
  • 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 [8]
  • Miss Sarah Major, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Victory " arriving in Lyttelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand on 17th October 1863 [8]
  • 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 [9]
  • ... (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 [10]
  • Charles Major Dorsey, American politician, Member of Georgia State House of Representatives from White County, 1949-50 [11]
  • Major Dodson, American actor known for his roles on The Walking Dead, American Horror Story and Left Behind

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 [12]
HMS Repulse
  • Mr. W S Major, British Surgeon Lieutenant "D", who sailed into battle on the HMS Repulse and survived the sinking [13]
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 [14]
  • 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 [14]


  1. ^ 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)
  2. ^ 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
  3. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 3rd November 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/Emu
  4. ^ 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
  5. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 15th October 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/blenheim
  6. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) MARY DUGDALE 1840. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1840MaryDugdale.gif
  7. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) The HIMALAYA 1849. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1849Himalaya.htm
  8. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 26th March 2019). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  9. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  10. ^ Generals of World War II. (Retrieved 2011, August 30) Rupert Downes. Retrieved from http://generals.dk/general/Downes/Rupert_Major/Australia.html
  11. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, October 21) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html
  12. ^ HMS Prince of Wales Crew members. (Retrieved 2014, April 9) . Retrieved from http://www.forcez-survivors.org.uk/biographies/listprincecrew.html
  13. ^ HMS Repulse Crew members. (Retrieved 2014, April 9) . Retrieved from http://www.forcez-survivors.org.uk/biographies/listrepulsecrew.html
  14. ^ Titanic Passenger List - Titanic Facts. (Retrieved 2016, July 13) . Retrieved from http://www.titanicfacts.net/titanic-passenger-list.html


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