This is an English surname, but one which may be of early French origins. It is said by some researchers to derive from the pre 10th century personal name Mainard, itself a derivation of the even earlier Germanic or Frankish Maganhard, meaning, or at least translating literally as 'strength hard.' If so it is recorded in England in many forms including Mainard, Mainerd, Meynard, and Maynard, and in France as Menard, Mesnard, Meynard and others. However we believed that it may not French at all, but English, and locational. The spelling as Mayhead is believed to derive either from a now 'lost' medieval village, but is more likely to be a local corruption of a spelling such as Maidenhead, the town in Berkshire. As Mayhead it does not appear to be recorded in the surviving registers of the city of London before 1785, when William Mayhead married Judith Jackson at St Martins in the Field, Westminster, on March 1st of that year. If it is of French origin then the first recording may be that of Robert Mayhard. This was dated 1198, in the Pipe Rolls of the county of Suffolk, during the reign of King Richard Ist known to history as 'Lionheart', 1189 - 1199. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as the Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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