Show ContentsMays History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

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. [1]

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

Early Origins of the Mays family

The surname Mays 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 Mays family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Mays 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 Mays History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Mays Spelling Variations

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.

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

Mays Ranking

In the United States, the name Mays is the 761st most popular surname with an estimated 39,792 people with that name. [6]

Ireland Migration of the Mays family to Ireland

Some of the Mays 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 Mays migration to the United States +

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 [7]
  • Alexander Mays, who landed in Wilmington, Del in 1798 [7]
Mays Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • James Mays, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1807 [7]
  • Margaret Mays, aged 30, who landed in America in 1821 [7]
  • Thomas Mays, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1831 [7]
  • Morris Mays, who arrived in Texas in 1835 [7]
  • John Mays, who arrived in Mississippi in 1851 [7]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
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 immigrated 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
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada Mays migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Mays Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Miss. Bridget Mays, aged 16 who was emigrating through Grosse Isle Quarantine Station, Quebec aboard the ship "Ajax" departing 16th April 1847 from Liverpool, England; the ship arrived on 23rd June 1847 but she died on board [8]

Australia Mays migration to Australia +

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

Mays Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. George Mays who was convicted in Gloucester, Gloucestershire, England for 7 years, transported aboard the "Bussorah Merchant" on 24th March 1828, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [9]
  • Mr. George Mays, English convict who was convicted in Norfolk, Norfolkshire, England for 10 years, transported aboard the "Augusta Jessie" on 10th August 1838, arriving in Tasmania (Van Diemen's Land) [10]

New Zealand Mays 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:

Mays Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Oliver Mays, British settler travelling from Gravesend aboard the ship "Evening Star" arriving in Auckland, New Zealand in 1858 [11]
  • Mr. John Mays, (b. 1839), aged 24, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Huntress" arriving in Lyttelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand on 21st April 1863 [11]
  • Fred Mays, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Timaru" in 1870

Contemporary Notables of the name Mays (post 1700) +

  • Eaddy Mays, American actress and producer, best known for her role as Elaine in the 2009 film The Blind Side
  • Lowry Mays (1935-2022), born Lester Lowry Mays, an American businessman who was the founder and chairman of Clear Channel Communications
  • Benjamin Mays (b. 1895), American minister, educator, and social activist
  • 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
  • Lyle Mays (b. 1953), American jazz pianist
  • Melinda Mays (b. 1962), American model and actress
  • ... (Another 42 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

HMS Prince of Wales
  • Mr. Wallace R Mays, British Seaman, who sailed into battle on the HMS Prince of Wales (1941) and survived the sinking [12]


Suggested Readings for the name Mays +

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

  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. ^ 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)
  8. ^ 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)
  9. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 5th November 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/bussorah-merchant
  10. ^ Convict Records of Australia (Retrieved 23rd August 2020, Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/augusta-jessie)
  11. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  12. ^ HMS Prince of Wales Crew members. (Retrieved 2014, April 9) . Retrieved from http://www.forcez-survivors.org.uk/biographies/listprincecrew.html


Houseofnames.com on Facebook