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Blazons & Genealogy Notes

1) (co. Dorset). Gu. a chev. vair betw. three ducal coronets or. Crest—Out of a ducal coronet or, a sinister hand ppr. betw. two wings ar.
2) (Tottenham High Cross, co. Middlesex; James Mayo, gent., son of Richard Mayo, Esq., of Much Marcle, co. Hereford. Visit. Middlesex, 1663). Sa. a chev. betw. three roses ar. a chief or.
3) Ar. a woodman wreathed about the head and hips walking upon a mount betw. two trees with a club over the dexter shoulder all ppr.
4) Sa. a fesse ar. betw. two lions pass. reguard or. (another coat has a canton ar.).
5) (Dinton, co. Wilts). Ar. (another, or) on a chev. sa. betw. three birds of the last five lozenges of the first.
6 (Lowe and Bray, co. Cornwall; Philip Mayow, Esq., of Bray, son of John Mayow, grandson of Philip Mayow, and great-grandson of Philip Mayow, all of Lowe. Visit. Cornwall, 1620). Gu. a chev. vair betw. three ducal coronets or. Crest—A falcon erm. devouring a snake ppr.

Origin, Meaning, Family History and Mayo Coat of Arms and Family Crest

May Origin:

England, France, Germany, Netherlands

Origins of Name:

The surname May is an ancient surname that most likely originates from a Norman French Introduction then to medieval England. The original word it derives from is “mai”. Mai was used as a word as a term of endearment or greeting given to a young person. It was also used as a term of endearment for someone who was a close friend of kin. This trend extends all the way to the 21st century where we see nicknames used for terms of endearment such as “lad” or “dude”, the former which can be used interchangeably between males or females.

The surname could also be used as a pet name or shortened version of the name “Matthew”. Matthew itself with some plural endings could possibly mean “Son of May”. The name Matthew is biblical in origin. It comes from the Hebrew male name “Matityahu” meaning gift of God. The name is recorded in the Greek version of the New Testament in the form of “Matthaias”. It is often seen as a Middle English given name and the modern version “Matthew”.

Finally, many children were often christened with the name “May”. A surname will evolve often times when a baby is christened with a given baptismal name. In this case the May baptismal surname is thought to only have been given to female babies. This is rare as normally there is no gender bias with given names that then eventually evolve into surnames.

Variations:

More common variations are:

Mayo, Mayy, Maey, Mawy, Mayh, Maoy, Maya, Moay, Mauy, Mayi, Mayu, Maay, Muay, Maye, Meay, Miay, Mhay, Maiy, Mway, Hmay,

History:

England:

The first known recorded spelling of the May surname is known as William Mai in 1167 who was recorded in the Pipe Rolls of Norfolk.

In 1177, William le Mai was also recorded in the Pipe Rolls of Norfolk, and it is unknown if there is any relation to the prior William Mai.

In 1221, Thomas le Mey and Goscelin Mey were recorded in the Book of Ely in Abbey Sufolk.

In 1275, John Meys was recorded in Gloucestershire in the Hundred Rolls of Gloucestershire.

Later recordings of the May surname include Stephen Mays in 1332 recorded in the Warsickshire Subsidy Rolls. Ann Mays was christened in the church of St. Mary the Virgain, Aldermanbury in London in 1596.

Scotland:

It is believed the surname is from the Old English word “maeg” meaning male kinsman, and warrior. William May built and settled his line in Berwick in 1291. David May was feudal lord of lands of Chapeltoun of Both in 1587. In 1597, Alexander May appears in Bourhilis, Aberdeenshire records. John Maii was recorded in 1638 in Harvestoun in Tillycultrie and in 1640, Robert Maii was recorded in Dunglas.

The MacDonald clan is notably a form of the name Omay.

Ireland

The surname May in Ireland was written and pronounced differently as it derives from the Gaelic surname O Miadhaigh. May is an Anglicized version of the surname O Miadhaigh, which means “descendant of Miadhach”. The name is also a nickname given to a person that would mean “honorable” or “proud”.

The surname O Miadhaigh is an old Westmeath surname, which can still be found today in the midlands. However, it is more frequently found today in Roscommon and the southern parts of Mayo. Sir Hugh de Lacy was famously killed by a O Miadhaigh, who cut off his head with an axe at the castle of Durrow in 1186. Sir Hugh de Lacy was nicknamed “the profaner and destroyer of many churches”.

The family O Miadhaigh itself was originally located in Teffia. Teffia was a County Westmeat. The family had given their name to the lands and forests known as Clonyveey or Cluain Ui Mhiadhaigh. The Anglecized version of this is O’Mey’s meadow.

As happened to many Irish families of that time they were forced to move off of their homeland by Norman families. During the Norman conquest of England many Norman families were given land, which further spread to Ireland when they would reach its shores too.

May Today:

United States 119,775

Mexico 31,591

England 29,361

South Africa 18,593

Malaysia 14,266

Australia 12,641

Cambodia 9,771

Canada 9,088

Brazil 9,031

Nigeria 6,725

Russia 6,087

Sudan 4,639

France 4,200

Notable People:

Thomas Erskine May (1815-1886), English constitutional expert

Philip William May (1864-1903), English caricaturist

Peter May (b. 1929), English cricket player

Harold May (b. 1947), English guitarist

David LaFrance May (1943-2012), American Baseball outfielder

Bert Deems May (b. 1969), NFL player in the US

Mayo Coat of Arms Meaning

The four main devices (symbols) in the Mayo blazon are the rose, ducal coronet, lion passant and woodman. The three main tinctures (colors) are sable, argent and or .

Sable, the deep black so often found in Heraldry is believed to named from an animal of the marten family know in the middle ages as a Sabellinœ and noted for its very black fur 1. In engravings, when colors cannot be shown it is represented as closely spaced horizontal and vertical lines, and appropriately is thus the darkest form of hatching, as this method is known 2. Although it may seem a sombre tone, and does indeed sometimes denote grief, it is more commonly said to represent Constancy 3.

Argent is the heraldic metal Silver and is usually shown as very pure white. It is also known more poetically as pearl, moon (or luna) 4. In a sketch or drawing it is represented by plain, unmarked paper 5.

The bright yellow colour frequently found in coats of arms is known to heralds as Or, or sometimes simply as Gold.6. Along with, argent, or silver it forms the two “metals” of heraldry – one of the guidelines of heraldic design is that silver objects should not be placed upon gold fields and vice versa 7. The yellow colour is often associated with the Sun, and the zodiacal sign of Leo.8.

Natural objects abound in heraldry, and one category that gives especial delight are the many flowers and flowering plants that frequently occur 9. The rose is also of this type, being drawn, at least a little, realistically and often to very pleasing effect. It has long been present in English heraldry, and as a badge and symbol played an enormous in English history throughout the conflict between rival dynasties known as the War of the Roses. In addition to these familial uses, Wade suggests that red roses signify “beauty and grace” and the white represents “love and faith”. 10

Crowns are frequently observed in Heraldry 11, but we should not make the mistake of assuming that these are always on Royal arms 12. Many of the orders of nobility across Europe were entitled to wear crowns and coronets, Dukes, Earls, Viscounts and Barons in England each had their own distinctive headwear 13. The ducal coronet is an example of this, being gold with a brim of strawberry leaves and a cap of crimson velvet. 14 It may also be the case that a crown is added to an existing coat of arms as an augmentation in recognition of some service to a King 15.

There can be no animal more clearly associated with Heraldry than the lion, majestic King of the Beasts. Originally it appeared only in one pose, erect, on one paw, with the others raised 16 but such was the popularity of this figure, and the need to distinguish arms from each other, that it soon came to be shown in an enormous range of forms 17. The lion passant is an example of these modified form, showing the creature on all fours, as if walking proudly. In common with all reprensentations of the lion it can be taken to be an “emblem of deathless courage”. 18

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References

  • 1 A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Sable
  • 2 Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 26
  • 3 The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P35
  • 4 Understanding Signs & Symbols – Heraldry, S. Oliver & G. Croton, Quantum, London, 2013, P53
  • 5 A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1847, P11
  • 6 Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 27
  • 7 A Complete Guide to Heraldry, A.C. Fox-Davies, Bonanza (re-print of 1909 Edition), New York, 1978, P85
  • 8 Understanding Signs & Symbols – Heraldry, S. Oliver & G. Croton, Quantum, London, 2013, P53
  • 9 A Complete Guide to Heraldry, A.C. Fox-Davies, Bonanza (re-print of 1909 Edition), New York, 1978, P262
  • 10 The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P132-133
  • 11 Understanding Signs & Symbols – Heraldry, S. Oliver & G. Croton, Quantum, London, 2013, P184
  • 12 The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P138
  • 13 A Complete Guide to Heraldry, A.C. Fox-Davies, Bonanza (re-print of 1909 Edition), New York, 1978, P350
  • 14 A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Crown
  • 15 Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 187
  • 16 Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 64
  • 17 Understanding Signs & Symbols – Heraldry, S. Oliver & G. Croton, Quantum, London, 2013, P136-141
  • 18 The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P61