This surname MAYS was a nickname 'the young girl or lad'. The name may also have been bestowed on someone born or baptised in the month of May, or may have been used for a nickname for one with a sunny disposition or even of one who had some anecdotal connection with the month of May, such as owing a feudal obligation then. Most of the European surnames in countries such as England, Scotland and France were formed in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. The process had started somewhat earlier and had continued in some places into the 19th century, but the norm is that in the tenth and eleventh centuries people did not have surnames, whereas by the fifteenth century most of the population had acquired a second name. Early records of the name mention Johannes filius Maie, 1274 County Lancashire. Thomas le Mey, was documented in 1300 in the County of Suffolk. John Meys of Yorkshire was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax in the year of 1379. John Clearke and Anne Mays were married at St. James's, Clerkenwell, London in the year 1682. 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, and particularly by those who went on the Crusades, as it added prestige and practical advantage to their status. At first the coat of arms was a practical matter which served a function of the battlefield and in tournaments. With his helmet covering his face, and armour encasing the knight from head to foot, the only means of identification for his followers, was the insignia painted on his shield, and embroidered on his surcoat, the draped and flowing garment worn over the armour. In many parts of central and western Europe, hereditary surnames began to become fixed at around the 12th century, and have developed and changed slowly over the years. As society became more complex, and such matters as the management of tenure, and in particular the collection of taxes were delegated to special functionaries, it became imperative to distinguish a more complex system of nomenclature to differentiate one individual from another.
he associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884.
Registered at Faunt, County Sussex.
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