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Origins of the May surname

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What does the name May mean?

May is an English surname with a few possible sources of origin. It is believed by some to be a derivation of the Middle English 'may' (warrior or kinsman) and be given to those who descend from someone with this occupation or responsibility. Others say that it is patronymic and stems from someone who is the son or descendant of 'Matthew' or 'May' (the diminutive form of the same name).

Alternative variations of the name May

May, Mays, Maye, Mayes, Maiy

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Where do most Mays live?

In 1921, most Mays lived in London.

Census records trace your ancestors through each generation, so you can follow where your relatives lived through each decade.

Interesting facts about Mays

How common is your surname?

186th most common surname in the UK

We have 196,000 records for the May surname. The oldest one dates back to 1538.

Who were Mays most likely to marry?




Our Marriage record sets tell us which families married Mays.

What are the most common May first names?

  • John
  • William
  • Mary
  • Elizabeth

Our birth record sets tell us the names of May family members

Common jobs for Mays

Men and women often performed different types of jobs, so these are displayed by gender to maintain their historical accuracy.

Common Female occupations for Mays in 1921




Domestic Servant


General Servant Domestic


General Servant


Common Male occupations for Mays in 1921
Agricultural Labourer


General Labourer




Farm Labourer




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