First recorded as Maior, Mair, Mayor, Meyer, Meier, Mayers, Meyers, and other forms, this notable surname is of Roman origins. It is widely recorded in both early English and German records. Throughout history it has always been a status name describing the headman of the town or area. It derives from 'magnus' meaning 'greater or superior', through the later French 'mair'. In Scotland, the title denoted an officer who executed summonses and other legal writs in addition to administrative activities, and in a Scottish Act of Parliament dated 1426, the 'mair' was described as the 'King's Sergeant', and entitled to bear a 'horn and wand'. In England, the term was always given to the chief civil officer of a borough, but occasionally may have been bestowed as a nickname on a pompous or officious person. In 17th century Germany and particularly in the former states of Westfalen and Lippe, it developed other compound forms, all relating to status. These include Luetkemeyer, and the patronymic Luetkemeyers, Surmeyer, Surmeyers, and Suermeier. As such the names describe either a "leader of the people" or an "elder mayor", or literally a past mayor. Early examples of the surname recordings include William le Maier of Somerset, England in 1243, whilst in the German registers of the period we have Johan Wilken Surmeyers of Bergkirchen, Lippe on June 29th 1690, Anna Luetkemeyer of Riesenbeck, christened there on November 26th 1712, and Johan Suermeier also of Bergkirchen, christened on February 11th 1741. The first recorded spelling of the family name is believed to be that of Heinrich Meier, of Zurich, Switzerland, in the year 1172.
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