May History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The name May comes from the ancient Norman culture that was established in Britain after the Conquest of 1066. It was a name for a person born or baptized in the month of May. The name May is derived from the Old French word mai, which has cognates in the other European languages that were all derived from the Latin word Maius. [1]

Robert, Ralph de Mai and Robert Mai were listed in Normandy 1180-1198 (Magni Rotuli Scaccarii Normanniae) [2]

Early Origins of the May family

The surname May was first found in Lincolnshire where Johannes filius Maie was listed in the Hundredorum Rolls of 1274. A few years later, Elenza May was found in the Subsidy Rolls of Yorkshire in 1301 and the Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls of 1379 includes an entry for May de Hindley. William Mai was found in the Pipe Rolls of Norfolk in 1167 and a later Pipe Rolls included William le Mal in 1177. Thomas le Mey and Goscelin Mey were both listed in Suffolk in 1221. [3]

The Hundredorum Rolls also includes: Richard le May, Huntingdonshire; Bateman le May, Bedfordshire; Cristin le May, Cambridgeshire; Roger filius Maye, Shropshire; John Filius Maye, Lincolnshire; and Emman le May, Oxfordshire. [4]

In Scotland, "William May rendered homage at Berwick, 1291. David May had a feud of the lands of Chapeltoun of Both from the Abbey of Culross, 1587. Alexander May appears in Bourhillis, Aberdeenshire, 1597 and John Maii in Harvestoun in Tillycultrie, 1638, and Robert Maii in Dunglas, 1640. The family is associated with Clan Macdonald where it is a form of Omay." [5]

Early History of the May family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our May research. Another 77 words (6 lines of text) covering the years 1291, 1573, 1630, 1605, 1611, 1614, 1621, 1624, 1625, 1624, 1625, 1626, 1629, 1604, 1655, 1640, 1642, 1628, 1698, 1665, 1685, 1621, 1684, 1797 and are included under the topic Early May History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

May Spelling Variations

Anglo-Norman names are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations. When the Normans became the ruling people of England in the 11th century, they introduced a new language into a society where the main languages of Old and later Middle English had no definite spelling rules. These languages were more often spoken than written, so they blended freely with one another. Contributing to this mixing of tongues was the fact that medieval scribes spelled words according to sound, ensuring that a person's name would appear differently in nearly every document in which it was recorded. The name has been spelled May, Mai, Maye and others.

Early Notables of the May family (pre 1700)

Outstanding amongst the family at this time was Sir Humphrey May (1573-1630), an English politician, Member of Parliament for Bere Alston (1605-1611), Westminster (1614), Lancaster (1621-1624) and 1625, and Leicester (1624-1625) and (1626-1629); Thomas May (c.1604-1655), an English...
Another 37 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early May Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

May World Ranking

In the United States, the name May is the 264th most popular surname with an estimated 99,480 people with that name. [6] However, in Canada, the name May is ranked the 504th most popular surname with an estimated 9,663 people with that name. [7] And in Newfoundland, Canada, the name May is the 458th popular surname with an estimated 103 people with that name. [8] France ranks May as 2,818th with 2,000 - 2,500 people. [9] Australia ranks May as 185th with 17,362 people. [10] New Zealand ranks May as 247th with 2,419 people. [11] The United Kingdom ranks May as 232nd with 25,091 people. [12] South Africa ranks May as 358th with 19,282 people. [13]

Ireland Migration of the May family to Ireland

Some of the May family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 93 words (7 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States May migration to the United States +

For many English families, the political and religious disarray that plagued their homeland made the frontiers of the New World an attractive prospect. Thousands migrated, aboard cramped disease-ridden ships. They arrived sick, poor, and hungry, but were welcomed in many cases with far greater opportunity than at home in England. Many of these hardy settlers went on to make important contributions to the emerging nations in which they landed. Among early immigrants bearing the name May or a variant listed above were:

May Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Cornelius May, who arrived in Virginia in 1616
  • Dorothy May arrived on the "Mayflower" in 1620
  • Dorothy May, who landed in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1620 [14]
  • Cornelius May, who landed in Virginia in 1623 [14]
  • Hannah May, who arrived in Virginia in 1637 [14]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
May Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Henry May, who arrived in Virginia in 1705 [14]
  • Johan Peter May, who arrived in New York in 1709 [14]
  • Martin May, who landed in Louisiana in 1719 [14]
  • Johann May, who landed in America in 1741 [14]
  • Johan Henrich May, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1743 [14]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
May Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Jacob May, aged 30, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1805 [14]
  • Emanuel May, aged 22, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1805 [14]
  • Lionel May, aged 43, who arrived in New York, NY in 1812 [14]
  • Mr. Edward May, (b. 1789), aged 43, Cornish farmer departing from Plymouth aboard the ship "Andromeda" arriving in the United States on 10th May 1832 [15]
  • Morris May, who landed in Texas in 1835 [14]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
May Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • Mrs.Elizabeth J.E. May, (b. 1846), aged 57, American returning from Cornwall, UK travelling aboard the ship "Campania" arriving at Ellis Island, New York on 7th November 1903 en route to Butte, Montana, USA [16]
  • Mrs. Florence May, (b. 1873), aged 30, Cornish settler travelling aboard the ship "New York" arriving at Ellis Island, New York on 25th October 1903 en route to Globe, Arizona, USA [16]
  • Mr. Frank May, (b. 1899), aged 4, Cornish settler travelling aboard the ship "New York" arriving at Ellis Island, New York on 25th October 1903 en route to Globe, Arizona, USA [16]
  • Mr. James May, (b. 1871), aged 32, Cornish miner travelling aboard the ship "New York" arriving at Ellis Island, New York on 2nd August 1903 en route to Norway, Michigan, USA [16]
  • Mr. John Charles May, (b. 1868), aged 35, Cornish miner travelling aboard the ship "Philadelphia" arriving at Ellis Island, New York on 11th July 1903 en route to Hancock, Michigan, USA [16]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada May migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

May Settlers in Canada in the 17th Century
  • Jean May, aged 30, who arrived in Canada in 1657
  • Mr. Jean May, French settler travelling to Canada to work for Antoine Grignon, Pierre Gaigneur, and Jacques Massé, arriving on 19th March 1657 [17]
May Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Ann May, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1750
  • Mr. William May U.E. who arrived at Port Roseway, [Shelbourne], Nova Scotia on December 13, 1783 was passenger number 396 aboard the ship "HMS Clinton", picked up on November 14, 1783 at East River, New York, USA [18]
  • Mr. William May U.E. who settled in Home District [York County], Ontario c. 1786 he served in Butlers Rangers, married with 5 children [18]
May Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Heinrich May, a Hessian mercenary who settled in Newfoundland after fighting in the American Revolution
  • Catherine May, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1831
  • Jane Donnelly May, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1837
  • Elizabeth Jane May, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1843
  • Mr. Martin May, aged 2 who was emigrating through Grosse Isle Quarantine Station, Quebec aboard the ship "Lord Ashburton" departing 13th September 1847 from Liverpool, England; the ship arrived on 1st November 1847 but he died on board [19]

Australia May migration to Australia +

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

May Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. John May, Cornish settler convicted in Cornwall, UK in 1801, sentenced for life, transported aboard the ship "Glatten" on 23rd September 1802 to New South Wales, Australia [20]
  • Mr. James May, British Convict who was convicted in Surrey, England for life, transported aboard the "Coromandel" on 4th December 1803, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [21]
  • Miss Charlotte May, English convict who was convicted in Middlesex, England for 7 years, transported aboard the "Broxbournebury" in January 1814, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [22]
  • James May, English convict from Middlesex, who was transported aboard the "Asia" on September 3rd, 1820, settling in New South Wales, Australia [23]
  • Mr. Robert May, British Convict who was convicted in Middlesex, England for life, transported aboard the "Countess of Harcourt" on 8th April 1821, arriving in Tasmania ( Van Diemen's Land) [24]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand May 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:

May Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • M May, who landed in Auckland, New Zealand in 1840
  • James May, who landed in Wellington, New Zealand in 1842 aboard the ship Geo Fife
  • Mr. May, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "George Fyffe" arriving in Wellington, New Zealand on 7th November 1842 [25]
  • George May, who landed in Auckland, New Zealand in 1843
  • Joseph May, who landed in Auckland, New Zealand in 1843
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

West Indies May migration to West Indies +

The British first settled the British West Indies around 1604. They made many attempts but failed in some to establish settlements on the Islands including Saint Lucia and Grenada. By 1627 they had managed to establish settlements on St. Kitts (St. Christopher) and Barbados, but by 1641 the Spanish had moved in and destroyed some of these including those at Providence Island. The British continued to expand the settlements including setting the First Federation in the British West Indies by 1674; some of the islands include Barbados, Bermuda, Cayman Island, Turks and Caicos, Jamaica and Belize then known as British Honduras. By the 1960's many of the islands became independent after the West Indies Federation which existed from 1958 to 1962 failed due to internal political conflicts. After this a number of Eastern Caribbean islands formed a free association. [26]
May Settlers in West Indies in the 17th Century
  • William May, who settled in St. Christopher (Saint Kitts) in 1634
  • Mathew May, aged 21, who arrived in Barbados in 1635 [14]
  • Mr. Mathew May, (b. 1614), aged 21, British settler travelling from London, England aboard the ship "Alexander" arriving in Barbados in 1635 [27]

Contemporary Notables of the name May (post 1700) +

  • Theresa Mary May (b. 1956), née Brasier, a British politician, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (2016-2019), Leader of the Conservative Party (2016-2019), Home Secretary (2010-2016)
  • Rick May (1940-2020), American voice actor and theatrical performer, director, and teacher from Seattle, Washington
  • Malachi J. Le May, American Democratic Party politician, Mayor of Shelton, Connecticut, 1949-56; Alternate Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Connecticut, 1956
  • Julian Clare May (1931-2017), American science fiction, fantasy, horror, science and children's writer
  • Ralph Duren "Ralphie" May (1972-2017), American stand-up comedian and actor who died of cardiac arrest at the age of 45
  • John Milton May (1950-2017), American politician, Democratic member of the North Carolina House of Representatives
  • David LaFrance May (1943-2012), American Major League Baseball outfielder, inducted into the Delaware Sports Museum and Hall of Fame (1984)
  • Bert Deems May (b. 1969), American NFL football former tight end
  • Private First Class Martin O. May (1922-1945), American soldier, awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in 1945
  • Ann May (b. 1901), American actress
  • ... (Another 18 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Bismarck
  • Fritz May (b. 1920), German Matrosengefreiter who served aboard the German Battleship Bismarck during World War II when it was sunk heading to France; he survived the sinking [28]
Empress of Ireland
  • Mr. Mark May (1873-1914), Canadian Third Class Passenger from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada who was traveling aboard the Empress of Ireland and died in the sinking [29]
HMS Dorsetshire
  • Stanley May (d. 1945), British Engine Room Artificer 3rd Class aboard the HMS Dorsetshire when she was struck by air bombers and sunk; he died in the sinking [30]
RMS Titanic
  • Mr. Arthur May (d. 1912), aged 24, English Fireman/Stoker from Southampton, Hampshire who worked aboard the RMS Titanic and died in the sinking [31]
  • Mr. Arthur William May Sr. (d. 1912), aged 60, English Fireman's Messman from Southampton, Hampshire who worked aboard the RMS Titanic and died in the sinking [31]
SS Caribou
  • Mr. Herbert May (b. 1923), Newfoundland passenger from Belleoram, Newfoundland and Labrador was travelling aboard the railway ferry "SS Caribou" when it was struck by a German submarine torpedo on 14th October 1942, the most significant sinking in Canadian waters at that time, he survived the sinking
  • Mr. Edward George May (b. 1916), British passenger who was Royal Navy from Halifax, Nova Scotia was travelling aboard the railway ferry "SS Caribou" when it was struck by a German submarine torpedo on 14th October 1942, the most significant sinking in Canadian waters at that time, he died in the sinking
  • Mrs. Clara May, Newfoundland passenger from Newfoundland and Labrador was travelling aboard the railway ferry "SS Caribou" when it was struck by a German submarine torpedo on 14th October 1942, the most significant sinking in Canadian waters at that time, she survived the sinking
USS Arizona
  • Mr. Louis Eugene May, American Ship's Cook Second Class from Kansas, USA working aboard the ship "USS Arizona" when she sunk during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7th December 1941, he died in the sinking [32]


Suggested Readings for the name May +

  • The Descendants of Claiborne B. May by Imogene May Boswell.
  • Ancestors and Descendants of Patty Blackburn Davis (also May Family) by Patty Dahm Pascoe.

  1. ^ Barber, Henry, British Family Names London: Elliot Stock, 62 Paternoster Row, 1894. Print.
  2. ^ The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X)
  3. ^ Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  4. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  5. ^ Black, George F., The Surnames of Scotland Their Origin, Meaning and History. New York: New York Public Library, 1946. Print. (ISBN 0-87104-172-3)
  6. ^ https://namecensus.com/most_common_surnames.htm
  7. ^ https://forebears.io/surnames/
  8. ^ The order of Common Surnames in 1955 in Newfoundland retrieved on 20th October 2021 (retrieved from Family Names of the Island of Newfoundland by E.R. Seary corrected edition ISBN 0-7735-1782-0)
  9. ^ http://www.journaldesfemmes.com/nom-de-famille/nom/
  10. ^ https://forebears.io/australia/surnames
  11. ^ https://forebears.io/new-zealand/surnames
  12. ^ https://www.surnamemap.eu/unitedkingdom/surnames_ranking.php?p=10
  13. ^ https://forebears.io/south-africa/surnames
  14. ^ 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)
  15. ^ Cornwall Online Parish Clerks. (Retrieved 2018, April 30). Emigrants to New York 1820 - 1891 [PDF]. Retrieved from http://www.opc-cornwall.org/Resc/pdfs/emigration_new_york_1820_1891.pdf
  16. ^ Cornwall Online Parish Clerks. (Retrieved 3rd May 2018). Retrieved from http://www.opc-cornwall.org/Resc/pdfs/emigration_ellis_island_1892_on.pdf
  17. ^ Debien, Gabriel. Liste Des Engagés Pour Le Canada Au XVIIe Siècle. Vol. 6, Laval University, 1952. (Retreived 24th May 2018). Retrieved from https://lebloguedeguyperron.wordpress.com/2016/06/30/130-liste-des-contrats-dengagement-pour-la-nouvelle-france-releves-a-la-rochelle-entre-1634-et-1679/
  18. ^ 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
  19. ^ Charbonneau, André, and Doris Drolet-Dubé. A Register of Deceased Persons at Sea and on Grosse Île in 1847. The Minister of Canadian Heritage, 1997. ISBN: 0-660-198/1-1997E (p. 85)
  20. ^ Cornwall Online Parish Clerks. (Retrieved 30th May 2018). Retrieved from http://www.opc-cornwall.org/Resc/pdfs/emigration_australia_convicts.pdf
  21. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 22nd March 2021). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/coromandel-and-experiment
  22. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 3rd November 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/broxbournebury
  23. ^ State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2016, October 27) Asia 1 voyage to Van Diemen's Land, Australia in 1820 with 192 passengers. Retrieved from http://www.convictrecords.com.au/ships/asia/1820
  24. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 24th March 2021). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/countess-of-harcourt
  25. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  26. ^ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_West_Indies
  27. ^ Pilgrim Ship Lists Early 1600's retrieved 28th September 2021. (Retrieved from https://www.packrat-pro.com/ships/shiplist.htm)
  28. ^ Bismarck & Tirpitz Class - Crew List Bismarck. (Retrieved 2018, February 06). Retrieved from https://www.bismarck-class.dk/bismarck/crew/bismarck_crew.html#crew_details
  29. ^ Commemoration Empress of Ireland 2014. (Retrieved 2014, June 17) . Retrieved from http://www.empress2014.ca/seclangen/listepsc1.html
  30. ^ Force Z Survivors HMS Dorsetshire Crew List, (Retrieved 2018, February 13th), https://www.forcez-survivors.org.uk/biographies/listdorsetshirecrew.html
  31. ^ Titanic Passenger List - Titanic Facts. (Retrieved 2016, July 13) . Retrieved from http://www.titanicfacts.net/titanic-passenger-list.html
  32. ^ Pearl Harbour: USS Arizona Casualties List Pearl Harbour December 7, 1941. (Retrieved 2018, July 31st). Retrieved from http://pearl-harbor.com/arizona/casualtylist.html


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