Recorded as Mayhow, Mayhew, Mayo, Mayhou, Mayho, Mayow and others, this is an English surname but of either French or biblical origins. It is a short form of the very popular medieval personal name Matthew, and probably from the pre 9th century version of Mahieu. Whether directly from Matthew or indirectly through Mahieu, the name was introduced into England by (in the main) the Normans after the famous conquest of 1066, and in particular, the 12th century crusaders, returning from the Holy Land.It became the fashion for these warriors and pilgrims to name their later children with biblical names in honour of their fathers undoubted bravery in even setting off for the Middle East in the first place, let alone taking part in the fierce fighting to free Jerusalem from the infidel. Early examples of the later surname taken from surviving rolls, registers and charters of the medieval period include: Geoffrey Mahou, in the tax rolls of the county of Berkshire in the year 1240, John Mahyw and William Mahu both in the Subsidy Rolls for the county of Sussex in 1296, and William Mayhew in the court rolls of the city of Colchester, Essex in the year 1351. Later recordings taken from surviving early church registers include: May Mayou, who married Joesph Chamberlin at Budbrooke, Warwick, on January 14th 1735, and William Mayhow who married Mary Ratcliffe in London on March 10th 1748. 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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