When we researched this surname we were confident that we would find that it was of French, and probably Huguenot, origins. It was certainly a surprise to find that it probably comes from Warwickshire, and is as English as it is possible to be. Without doubt Mayou, like Mayo, Mayhow, Mayho, Mayow etc, is a nickname or pet form of the very popular 'Matthew', a given name introduced into England by (in the main) the 12th century crusaders, returning from the Holy Land. The French form of Matthew is 'Mahieu', but that spelling never took root in England. In fact we are fairly certain that we can pinpoint precisely when the spelling as 'Mayou' first occurred. In 1678, on November 20th, at Coleshill, one Richard Mayow, in the early popular spelling was christened. On January 8th 1704 apparently the same Richard was married at the same (Coleshill) church, except that in the register he is now spelt as 'Mayou' - and thereafter a new spelling form was created. It may seem strange that Richard himself did not spot the difference, but as it is probable that he could not read, such mistakes are common, and many surnames owe their modern spellings to clerical error. Other examples include May Mayou who married Joesph Chamberlin at Budbrooke, Warwick, on January 14th 1735, and William Mayou who married Mary Ratcliffe in London on March 10th 1748. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Mayho, which was dated 1428, the pipe rolls of the county of Kent, during the reign of King Henry V1 of England, 1422 - 1461. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as 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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