MEE - The origin of the name: (1120-1415) as compiled by Rev. Terry Holman
There appear to be two distinct origins of the name Mee in the British
1. The Irish Mees, who seem to be Celtic in origin, Irish researchers
having traced the name back to a 12th century Gaelic name.
The oldest recorded member of this family being one Gilla-Gan-Mathiar
O'Maidhaigh who gained fame by killing a notorious oppresser of the Irish
people, Sir Hugh de Lacy, in 1186. According to Dr. Edmund Curtis' book
'Medieval Ireland', he "struck off de Lacey's head with an axe and running
swift as a hare sped safe away." This incident is recorded in the 'Annals
of the Four Masters'.
The statutes of Kilkenny in 1366 attempted to anglicise the country and
after this date many surnames dropped the O' so O'Miadhaigh (shortened to
O'Miey.) became Mee.
2. The English Mees, who were Norman in origin stemming from a family
called Le Mey who came to England, probably with William the Conqueror.
In 1361 there was an edict by Edward III that French prefixes be dropped
from English surnames. This was done in some official papers but there was
a reluctance for many families (including the LeMeys) to change their
names. However it is worth noting that in the letters from Charles
Mee-Power 10/4/1937 (The Mees of Leicestershire and other families) he
comments that " 1361 ..... In all law courts / pleadings, the use of le
and de prefixes to be discontinued and the surname MEE appears for the
first time (I do not know where) "
The Mees of Leicestershire, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire all seem to stem
from a single family in that they are descendants of Henry Le Mey c.1450,
who fought for Richard III at the battle of Bosworth (1485). Henry Tudor
won to became King of England, and Henry Le Mey lost lands and titles.
About this time, he changed the name of his six year old son John Le May to
Mee (possibly to avoid further retribution on his family), there is no
evidence that Henry Le Mey changed his own name.
English Mees all appear to descend from John Mee born c.1480, through one
of his four sons, Roger of Lockingdon, William of Diesworth, John of
Diesworth and Robert of Aston on Trent. The two main (most numerous)
branches being the descendants of William and Robert.
In the early 1600s a second influx of the Normandy family came to England,
their name was spelt variously - Le May, Lemay and one of the earlier
spellings is interestingly, Le Mee. They were Huguenots escaping the
persecution in France. They became merchants in London and established the
family name Le May. One of their descendants, Reginald Stuart Le May wrote
a book called "Records of the Le May family in England (1630-1950)"
published in 1950 . In the book he tried to link his family with the
earlier members of the same family, who came to England in the eleventh
century at the time of the Norman Conquest. He was unsuccessful, for
two reasons, firstly he concentrated his search in the south of England,
and secondly, he was unaware of the La Mey / Mee connection.
Mees from England and Ireland have crossed the Irish Sea in both directions
and in some cases there has been confusion when trying to trace their
A List of the earliest recorded LeMeys (Mees) from 1167. (Not a lineage)
1120: Richard le Mey: of Pulton Chester 1120
1120: Richard de Meisham: circa 1120-1170
1150: Ralph LeMey: of Meisham. also known as Ralph de Meisham
son of Richard de Meisham. known to be alive in 1150
married: Benec.... (end of the name illegible)
source: same as William (below)
1167: William LeMey: of Long Whatton.
source: Leicester library references re the West Goscote Hundred
mentions the name William le Mey in 1167, 1177, and 1189
c1200: William LeMey: of Meisham. (also known as William May) son of
Ralph. died 1240 huntsman to the Earl of Derby
1. a land transaction re: the giving over of two Manors,
known as "Over Seale or Upper Seale, called also Little Seile and
Spital Seile," together with a park, a mill, and a wood, called
Woodlondes. Upon the marriage of his daughter Godehouda to William
son of Robert de Appleby.
2. his name occurs as a witness in 15 deeds from Willesley.
1220: Godehouda LeMey: born 1220. daughter of William of Meisham.
source: same as William (above)
1220: Richard de Meisham: alive during reign of Richard I
1234: Muriel - abbess of Polesworth daughter of William le Mey died 1234
1249: Richard Mey of Leicester.
1250: Sir William de Meisham: (son of William LeMey - above) died 1278
1. Service and homage given to the Abbot of Merivale co.Warwick
2. "Knights service with sute at the court of William Ferrers,
Earle of Derby at Tuttebury co. Stafford."
1252: Hugo de Meisham: known to be alive in 1252
1254: Robert Mey of Blaby
1276: John Meys of Donington.
1278: William Le May: (thought to be the son of Sir William de Meisham
1278 married a Sarah Cahudd who later married William de Appleby
he had two sisters: Isabel & Cecilia.
1279: Willielmus LeMey: of Donington le Heath.
source: an Inquisition of Edward l (A.D. 1279) registered as
holding 3 virgates (90 acres)of land of the Prior of Cherley, held of
the Honour of the Earldom of Chester.
1305: Matthew LeMey: of Breedon.
1327: John LeMey: of Newton Burgoland.
source: same as Henricus (below).
1327: Henricus LeMey: of Normanton.
source: The lay subsidy roll of Edward III, (granted by parliament
to meet the expenses of the war with Scotland.)
1328: William Le Mey:
1332: Augustus Le May: instituted as Rector of the parish of Stow Maries,
Near Chelmsford, Essex on Dec 13th 1332.
source: parish records.
1350: Sir John Mecum: (John Mey of Loddington) born 1350.
source: Inquisition 48 of Edward III dated 1374-5 (this gives his
age as 24)
1390: Richard Le Mey of Toton
(Archer at the battle of Agincourt in the retinue of Baron Grey of
1404: John Me: instituted as First Priest of Chaddesden, co. Derby.
source: Episcopal records of Lichfield.
1404: William LeMey: of Diesworth.
1415: John Mee: of Derby.