This surname of MAW was originally derived from the Old English personal name MAWA, and was a nickname for someone who was related to an important local personality. The name has many variant spellings which include MAWE, MOWE, MEW, MEWE and MOUGH. The name is strongly represented in Lincoln. Early records of the name mention Alice de la Mawe, who was recorded in County Suffolk in the year 1273, and William de la Mawe was documented there in the same year. William de la Mawe, was the bailiff of Yarmouth in 1354, and Willelmus Mawe of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Many factors contributed to the establishment of a surname system. For generations after the Norman Conquest of 1066 a very few dynasts and magnates passed on hereditary surnames, but the main of the population, with a wide choice of first-names out of Celtic, Old English, Norman and Latin, avoided ambiguity without the need for a second name. As society became more stabilized, there was property to leave in wills, the towns and villages grew and the labels that had served to distinguish a handful of folk in a friendly village were not adequate for a teeming slum where perhaps most of the householders were engaged in the same monotonous trade, so not even their occupations could distinguish them, and some first names were gaining a tiresome popularity, especially Thomas after 1170. The hereditary principle in surnames gained currency first in the South, and the poorer folk were slower to apply it. By the 14th century however, most of the population had acquired a second name. Later instances of the name mention Margaret, daughter of John Mawe, who was baptised at St. James's, Clerkenwell, London in 1663, and Thomas Mawe and Mary Monke were married at Canterbury, Kent in 1674. In Scotland the surname is of English origin and the earliest of the name on record there appears to be John Maw, who was a smith in Horndine in 1672.
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