The origin of the (Mayhew) name is explained satisfactorily by a learned historical scholar of England, himself a descendant, and the following extracts are made from his account:-
As an English family name it is most frequently met with in the South and West of this island, and few parish registers in the Counties of Hereford, Gloucester, Wilts and Dorset can be opened without presenting us with examples. It is spelt in many ways, varying from the extended form of Mayhowe to that of Mao, and often, as it will frequently appear, clipped down and reduced to May to the loss of its concluding syllable. [As an example of the loss of the final syllable, the following may be noted: Walter Mayo vel Meye admissus in Artibus 26 June 1511, (Gough Mss. 7, Bod. Lib.); the will of Robert Mayo of Broughton Gifford 16 Nov. 1572, in the Prerogative Court, though his family name was usually written May, as in the Wiltshire visitations, the will of Henry Mayo alias May, of Kellways, Wilts, 1661.] One lesson is taught by the diversity and variety, viz:-the identity of Mayhew and Mayo, and from this consideration a ray of light is thrown upon the derivation of the name. An early occurrence of the name, and in its extended form, is found in Glover's Roll of Arms, supposed by Sir Harris Nicholas to date from between 1245 and 1250. Herbert le Fitz Mayhewe is there mentioned as bearing "party d'azur & de goulz one trots leonseaux rampant d'or," and Woodward in his History of Wales, page 415, narrates that account to the old copy of S. Davids Annals. The Welsh slew Sir Herbert Fitz-Mahu apparently in 1246, near the castle of Morgan Cam. The same Roll of Arms gives the clue to the origin of the name as a Christian name; in the case of Mahewe de Lovayne, Mayhew de Columbers and Maheu de Redmain. There can be little doubt that it is here a softened form of Matthew. Bardsley in his "English Surnames" mentioned two other instances, Adam fil. Maheu, and Mayhew de Basingbourne, from the Parliamentary Writs. Lower, (Patronymica Brittannica, 219, 221,) takes the same view.
Shakespeare in King "Lear" Act III, scene 4, says:
"The Prince of Darkness is a Gentleman
Modo he's called and Mahu."
The family has its principal habitats in Cornwall, at Lostwithiel, Looe, Bray and Morval, to which belonged John Mayow, Fellow of All Souls, Oxford, and that Mayow of Clevyan, in St. Columb Major, who was hanged on a tavern sign-post as a rebel against the injunctions of Edward VI, concerning religion. Dorsetshire has one family in the Visitation; Gloucestershire, at Kempley, Tetbury, Charfield; Herefordshire, at Tottenham; Northamptonshire, at Holmden, in the Visitation of 1619; Norfolk, at Billockby and Clippesby; Suffolk at Clopton, Helmington and Bedingfield, and in Wiltshire more than one family of the name are found including Mayhew of Dinton in the Visitations of 1565 and 1623, whose pedigree is here inserted.
Of noted persons of the name is Richard Mayo, otherwise Mayeo, Maiewe, Mayhue, etc., who was born near Hungerford, educated at Winchester, became a fellow of New College in 1459; after passing through the lower orders he became Chancellor of Oxford, 1503, and Bishop of Hereford in 1504. He died in April, 1516. [Genealogical Account of the Mayo and Elton Families by Rev. Canon Mayo, vicar of Long Burton, Dorset. London, 1882.]