Recorded as Maier, Maior, Mair, Mayer, Mayor, Meyer, Meier, Mayers, Meyers, and diminutives such as the Spanish and Catalan Mayoral, this notable surname is of Roman and Frankish pre 5th century origins. It is widely recorded in early English, French, German and Swisse records. Deriving from the Latin word "magnus" meaning great, throughout history it has always been a status name describing the headman or "mayor", of the town or area. In medieval 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 state of Lippe, it developed other compound forms, all relating to status. These include Surmeyer, Surmeyers, and Suermeier with the later American Surmeir, and describe an "elder mayor", or literally a past mayor. Early examples of the surname recordings include William le Maier of Somerset, England in 1243, and Henry Meyer and Bartholomew le Meyre in Norfolk in 1275. The first recorded spelling of the family name is believed to be that of Heinrich Meier of Zurich, which was dated circa 1172, in the rolls and charters of that famous city.
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