Recorded in a variety of spellings including Mapowder, Maypowder, Mapother, and Maypother, this is a very unusual English surname, which has for two centuries also been found in County Cork, Ireland. It has absolutely nothing to do with either 'may' or 'powder', but is in fact locational from the little village of Mapowder near Cerne Abbas, in the county of Dorset. The name derives from the words 'maple tree' but over the many centuries, the village name and hence the later surname has been given a West Country dialectal 'twist'. The first known place name recording is in the famous Domesday Book of 1086 when the spelling is as 'Mapledre', becoming 'Mapodre' in 1236, from which it is easy to see how the later surname developed. Locational surnames are 'from' names. That is to say they were names often given to 'strangers', since the easiest way to identify such people was to call them after the place from whence they came. In this case the surname appears in the diocese of Greater London in 1701 when Stephen Maypowder married Mary Exton at the famous church of St Martins in the Field, Westminster, whilst Patrick Mapother, who may well have been Irish, married Catherine Wynne at the church of St Mary Aldermary, in the city of London, on January 1st 1745.
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