The Oxford Names Companion's entry for Mayhew states:- "English: from the Norman given name Mahieu, a var. of Mathieu; see Matthew. Vars.: Mahew, Mehew, Mayo(w)."
Mahieu and the English equivalent Matthew originate ultimately from the Hebrew male given name Matityahu (meaning "gift of God").
"Recorded as Mayhow, Mayhew, Mayo, Mayhou, Mayho, Mayow and others, this is an English surname but of either French or biblical origins. It is a short form of the very popular medieval personal name Matthew, and probably from the pre 9th century version of Mahieu." Copyright: Name Origin Research www.surnamedb.com 1980 - 2013 Read more: http://www.surnamedb.com/Surname/Mayhew#ixzz2nDOohGFL
Dr. Charles E. Banks gives an interesting account of the origin and occurrence of Mayhew, as an English family name, in "The History of Martha's Vineyard"
In the 16th and 17th centuries, the surname MAHIEU crops up frequently in the records of the French Huguenot and Walloon churches in London, Canterbury and Norwich. Subsequent records of descendants of these families indicate that over time the name became anglicised as MAYHEW.
For a history of the Huguenots, see The Huguenot Society of Great Britain & Ireland
The Huguenots first arrived in Britain in the mid-sixteenth century, escaping from religious persecution in their native countries, and continued to come for the next two centuries. They were mainly from France, particularly the later arrivals, but also included Walloons and other Frenchspeaking refugees from the Southern Low Countries (now Belgium and northern France). Major groups of Huguenot refugees came after the Massacre of St. Bartholomew in 1572 and the revocation of the Edict of Nantes (which had granted French Protestants religious and political freedom in 1598) by Louis XIV in 1685. The biggest influx of refugees, some forty or fifty thousand, came from France between the late 1670s and the first decade of the eighteenth century.
The Huguenots tended to concentrate in London, Canterbury, Southampton, Norwich, and Bristol, where they formed distinct communities, creating their own churches and work environments. Wealthier members of the community provided work and relief for later refugees and for those of their co-religionists who had become destitute. Huguenots who had brought over their money and other assets invested in technological or commercial ventures, and the artisans who formed the bulk of the refugee population provided cheap skilled labour. The Huguenots proved a major economic impetus to Britain, often introducing new techniques and ideas in crafts such as silk and cloth weaving. Other major Huguenot industries were the manufacture of glassware and paper, and metalworking.
London was the heart of the Huguenot settlement in England. The immigrants tended to congregate on the outskirts of the metropolis, where food and housing were cheaper and guild control less effective. By around 1700 two distinct communities had evolved, one being based in Spitalfields, the centre of the Huguenot weaving industry, and the other in Leicester Fields/Soho in the western suburbs. The first French Church in London was in Threadneedle Street in the City, but as the communities grew more joined it, and by 1700 there were around fourteen churches in the western area and nine in the eastern.
The Huguenots gradually became assimilated in English society during the nineteenth century, no longer forming a distinct religious, economic and cultural unit, but many people today will be able to trace ancestors back to those earlier refugees. With acknowledgement to the London Metropoitan Archives
The Family Name of Mayhew