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An excerpt from archives copyright 2000 - 2016

Origins Available: English, German

The Norman Conquest of England in 1066 brought many new words to England from which surnames were formed. Mays was one of these new Norman names. It was specifically tailored to its first bearer, who was a person born or baptized in the month of May. The name Mays 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. This name was also a nickname for a person with a particularly sunny disposition or a person who had an anecdotal connection with the month of May. Often this connection would be the time that feudal obligations were owed. Nicknames, such as Mays, that described the time or season of the birth, baptism or conversion of the original bearer were frequently adopted in the medieval era. Additionally, numerous nicknames referred to various religious festivals, medieval name days, or the particular day of the week when feudal services were fulfilled.


The surname Mays was first found in Sussex where they held a family seat as Lords of the manor of Faunt.

A multitude of spelling variations characterize Norman surnames. Many variations occurred because Old and Middle English lacked any definite spelling rules. The introduction of Norman French to England also had a pronounced effect, as did the court languages of Latin and French. Therefore, one person was often referred to by several different spellings in a single lifetime. The various spellings include May, Mai, Maye and others.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Mays research. Another 153 words (11 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 Mays History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


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 Mays Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


Some of the Mays family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 173 words (12 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


Many English families left England, to avoid the chaos of their homeland and migrated to the many British colonies abroad. Although the conditions on the ships were extremely cramped, and some travelers arrived diseased, starving, and destitute, once in the colonies, many of the families prospered and made valuable contributions to the cultures of what would become the United States and Canada. Research into the origins of individual families in North America has revealed records of the immigration of a number of people bearing the name Mays or a variant listed above:

Mays Settlers in United States in the 18th Century

  • Jacob Mays, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1765
  • Alexander Mays, who landed in Wilmington, Del in 1798

Mays Settlers in United States in the 19th Century

  • James Mays, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1807
  • Margaret Mays, aged 30, landed in America in 1821
  • Thomas Mays, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1831
  • Morris Mays, who arrived in Texas in 1835
  • John Mays, who arrived in Mississippi in 1851
  • ...

Mays Settlers in United States in the 20th Century

  • George Henry Mays, aged 44, who landed in America from Bourne Lens, England, in 1904
  • Ellen Rebecca Mays, aged 29, who landed in America from Pendleton, England, in 1908
  • Edward Mays, aged 34, who emigrated to the United States, in 1915
  • Caroline E. Mays, aged 29, who landed in America from England, in 1916
  • Emily Mays, aged 60, who settled in America from Hunstanton, England, in 1916
  • ...

Mays Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century

  • Fred Mays arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Timaru" in 1870

  • Rex Mays (b. 1913), American race car driver
  • Stafford Mays (b. 1958), American former football defensive lineman
  • Taylor Mays (b. 1988), American football player (San Francisco 49ers)
  • Travis Mays (b. 1968), American former professional basketball player
  • Lee Mays (b. 1978), American football wide receiver
  • Lowry Mays (b. 1935), American founder and current chairman of Clear Channel Communication
  • Lyle Mays (b. 1953), American jazz pianist
  • Melinda Mays (b. 1962), American model and actress
  • Raqiyah Mays, American hip-hop journalist and radio personality
  • Jerry Mays (b. 1967), American running back in the National football League
  • ...

Mays Historic Events

HMS Prince of Wales

  • Mr. Wallace R Mays, British Seaman, who sailed in to battle on the HMS Prince of Wales and survived the sinking

  • Genealogy and History of Thomas B. Hamrick, John Ray, Seaborn Mays, and E. Warbington by Orville O. Ray.

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    Other References

    1. Fairbairn. Fairbain's book of Crests of the Families of Great Britain and Ireland, 4th Edition 2 volumes in one. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1968. Print.
    2. Bolton, Charles Knowles. Bolton's American Armory. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1964. Print.
    3. Robb H. Amanda and Andrew Chesler. Encyclopedia of American Family Names. New York: Haper Collins, 1995. Print. (ISBN 0-06-270075-8).
    4. Dunkling, Leslie. Dictionary of Surnames. Toronto: Collins, 1998. Print. (ISBN 0004720598).
    5. Bradford, William. History of Plymouth Plantation 1620-1647 Edited by Samuel Eliot Morrison 2 Volumes. New York: Russell and Russell, 1968. Print.
    6. Marcharn, Frederick George. A Constitutional History of Modern England 1485 to the Present. London: Harper and Brothers, 1960. Print.
    7. Skordas, Guest. Ed. The Early Settlers of Maryland an Index to Names or Immigrants Complied from Records of Land Patents 1633-1680 in the Hall of Records Annapolis, Maryland. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1968. Print.
    8. Library of Congress. American and English Genealogies in the Library of Congress. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1967. Print.
    9. Bullock, L.G. Historical Map of England and Wales. Edinburgh: Bartholomew and Son, 1971. Print.
    10. Magnusson, Magnus. Chambers Biographical Dictionary 5th edition. Edinburgh: W & R Chambers, 1990. Print.
    11. ...

    The Mays Family Crest was acquired from the archives. The Mays Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

    This page was last modified on 19 June 2016 at 11:26.

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