The surname of MAJOR was a baptismal name 'the son of Mauger' a 13th century font name. Following the Crusades in Europe in the 11th, 12th and 13th centuries, a need was felt for a family name to replace the one given at birth, or in addition to it. This was recognized by those of noble birth, as it added prestige and practical advantage to their status. The bulk of European surnames in countries such as England and France were formed in the 13th and 14th centuries. The process started earlier and continued in some places into the 19th century, but the norm is that in the 11th century people did not have surnames, whereas by the 15th century they did. Early records mention Hugo filius Malgeri, listed in the Domesday Book of 1086. Thomas Mauger, 1260 County Cornwall. Edward Mager of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Later instances of the name include a certain Alice Mager who was baptised at St. Peter. Cornhill, London in 1577. Robert Major married Elizabeth Davies at St. George's Chapel, Mayfair, London in 1742. An eminent member of the name was John Major (1470-1550) the Scottish theologian and historian, born in Gleghornie, near North Berwick. He studied at Oxford, Cambridge and Paris, and lectured on scholastic logic and philosophy as Glagow from 1518. His pupils included John Knox. He wrote 'A History of Greater Britain' (1521). He was the provost of St. Salvator's College, St. Andrews from 1633 until his death. During the Middle Ages, when people were unable to read or write, signs were needed for all visual identification. For several centuries city streets in Britain were filled with signs of all kinds, public houses, tradesmen and even private householders found them necessary. This was an age when there were no numbered houses, and an address was a descriptive phrase that made use of a convenient landmark. At this time, coats of arms came into being, for the practical reason that men went into battle heavily armed and were difficult to recognise. It became the custom for them to adorn their helmets with distinctive crests, and to paint their shields with animals and the like. Coats of arms accompanied the development of surnames, becoming hereditary in the same way.
The associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884. Registered at Southampton and the Isle of Wight.
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