Recorded in the spellings of Maier, Maior, Mair, Mayer, Mayor, Meir, Meijer, Meyer, and Meier, with the patronymics Mayers and Meyers, this notable surname is of Roman and Frankish pre 5th century origins. Deriving from the original Roman (Latin) personal name "Magnus" meaning "The great one", it has always been widely recorded in early English, Dutch, French, German and Swisse registers from the earliest times, both as firstly a baptismal name, and then after the 12th century a.d., as a surname. In addion and throughout history it has 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 these describe either a High Mayor or an "elder mayor", or literally a past mayor. Early examples of the surname recordings taken from the first English records include William le Maier of Somerset, 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, Switzerland, which was dated circa 1172, in the rolls and charters of that famous city.
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