Maynard Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Maynard Surname Meaning

The surname Maynard is of Norman origin, introduced into England after the Conquest in 1066.  It derived from the old French personal name mainard, from the elements magin meaning “strength” and hard, “hardy” or “brave.”

Maynard or Mainard who died in 991 was the first abbot of Mont St. Michel in Normandy.  The name appeared in England for the first time in the Domesday Book of  1086.

Maynard Surname Resources on The Internet

Maynard Surname Ancestry

  • from Southern England
  • to Portugal, America, Caribs (Nevis), South Africa and Australia

England.  The first Maynards were probably Norman in origin.  There appears to have been an early Maynard presence in Kent.  Maynard’s hospital in Canterbury was founded in 1317 by a man named Mayner or Maynard (and known popularly as Mayner the rich).

John Mainard of Axminster, described as a “servant of the Black Prince,” was a warden of Brest castle in France and provided equipment for the English fleet in 1360 during the war with France.

SW England.  Maynards at Sherford in Devon date from about 1480.  Two John Maynards from this family were prominent as MP’s during the Commonwealth and Restoration period, one, a Puritan, being ejected from his office in 1662.  A Forster Maynard branch sprung up in Melton, Cornwall.  The Maynard name was also to be seen in Stratton, Cornwall and in Corston, Somerset.

SE England   But Maynard has been more a name of SE England.  Sir Henry Maynard established his family at Little Easton in Essex during Elizabethan times.  Later Maynards were London merchants and public benefactors in Walthamstow.

Maynards were also to be found in Kent and Sussex:

  • John Maynard was born in Glassenbury in Kent in 1511.  The Maynard name subsequently cropped up in Kentish places such as Cranbrook, Hawkhurst, and Sandhurst.
  • the Maynards of Mayfield in East Sussex were Puritan but paid for their allegiance.  William Maynard was burnt at the stake in 1556 and the Rev. John Maynard was deprived of his living after the Restoration in 1662.  In later times, Isaac Maynard from Shoreham in Sussex was a steward on the Titanic and one of the lucky few who survived.

Yorkshire  There is a Maynard outpost as well in north Yorkshire.  An English family called Maynard were said to have plotted their descent from the Sir Richard Maynarde of Kirklevington who fought at Agincourt in 1415.

Other Maynards have been traced back to the 16th century.  A Maynard family from Eryholme were cattle-breeders who set themselves up as gentry in Harlsey Hall.  Maynards came also from Wass in Kilburn parish.  Joan Maynard from Thirsk was a Labor activist and an MP from 1974 to 1987.

Portugal.  Thomas Maynard, a merchant from Devon, was appointed the first English Consul to Portugal by Oliver Cromwell in 1656.  He held the post until his death in Lisbon in 1692.  A Protestant, he was briefly imprisoned during the Inquisition.

His brother Walter, a merchant in Oporto, made one of the earliest shipments of port to England.  His name was passed down in the Portuguese form Manarte.He is believed to have been the ancestor of later port-making families. His name has been preserved in the Maynard’s port brand name.

America.  The patriarch of the Maynards in Massachusetts was John Maynard from Hertfordshire.

New England.  John Mayhard arrived in 1638, settled in Sudbury, and was one of the founding fathers of Marlborough.  Among his descendants were:

  • Amory Maynard of Maynard, Massachusetts.
  • the three Maynard brothers who moved to Madison county, New York in the 1790’s.  This was where the inventor Edward Maynard was born.
  • the Maynards of Ellington, Connecticut and, more distant, the Maynards of Union county, South Dakota (where Solomon Maynard had gone from Minnesota in 1868).

Possibly related were:

  • the Maynards of East Haddam, Connecticut
  • and the Maynards of Springfield, Vermont (from whence came Doc Maynard, founding father of the city of Seattle).

Virginia.  James Maynard, born in 1752, was a Revolutionary war soldier in Virginia and was still alive, said to have been oover 100 years old, in the 1850 census of Wayne county, West Virginia.  His son Isaac – known as Chaine – also had a long life, living to be 87.

James’s descendants, traced in Paul E. Dyer’s 1986 book James Maynard of Virginia and Descendants, are to be found today in West Virginia and Kentucky.

Elsewhere..  Henry Maynard had arrived in Maryland around 1701 and established himself at Proctor’s Park in Anne Arundel county.  His son Thomas moved to a new estate in the Linganore hills of Frederick county.  Some of his descendants were still to be found there in the early 1900’s. Others had moved west.

A number of Maynards came to North Carolina during the 1700’s – although possibly not Robert Maynard, the slayer of Blackbeard off its shores.  William Maynard settled in Wilkes county, North Carolina in the 1740’s.  Three of his sons moved onto Tennessee in 1790 and then to Kentucky in 1810.  And there were many Maynards in North Carolina by the time of the Revolutionary War.

Caribbean.   The Maynards date from the early 1700’s on the tiny island of Nevis.  They and the Huggins were the two big sugar producers on the island.  They were slaveowners and apparently hard men (Walter Maynard shot John Huggins in a duel in 1822).  The last of the line, when the New River plantation closed its doors in the 1940’s, was Norman Maynard.

There are still many Maynards on the island today – including John Maynard the cricketer, known as “the dentist,” and Konris Maynard, four-time winner of the national calypso show.

Maynard also figured from an early time as a name in Barbados and was then brought to the Bahamas by Clement Maynard.  His son was one of the founding fathers of an independent Bahamas.

South Africa.  Levi and Sarah Maynard arrived in Cape Colony from Bedfordshire in 1820.  Their son James Maynard became a wealthy local landowner.  His home of Maynardville in Cape Town now functions as an Open-air theater on the lines of the Open-air theater in London.

Australia.  The Maynard name figures most prominently in Australia among the Aboriginal community.  Part of this is due to Fred Maynard, the mixed-race son of an English father and a native-born wife.  Fred launched the Australian Aboriginal Progressive Association in the 1920’s and was an early advocate of Aborigine rights.

Maynard is also a name among the Aborigine Bass Strait island community in Tasmania.  The photographer Ricky Maynard who comes from these roots uses native culture in his work.

“We are a forgotten people in a way and within this country we are not paid our due respect as indigenous people of this land.  It’s through conveying strong and simple powerful images that we are reminded of the way we tell our stories.”

Maynard Surname Miscellany

Reader Feedback – Maynard at Mont St. Michel.  I have come across the Maynard surname and its association with Mont St. Michel in France.  Father Maynard I, the first Abbot of Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy sent by Richard, Duke of Normandy, established a Benedictine community on Mont Saint-Michel and started the important activity of collecting and copying books before printing was invented.

Sharlene Heard (

Sir Henry Maynard at Little Easton in Essex.  Sir Henry Maynard was secretary to Lord Burghley during Elizabethan times and became, through a judicious marriage and steady accumulation, a substantial landowner.  He died in 1610 and was buried in Little Easton church in Essex.

His epitaph there reads:

“Here resteth, in assured hope to rise in Christ, Henry Maynard, knight, descended from the ancient family of Maynard in the county of Devon, and Dame Susan his wife, daughter and one of the co-heirs of Thomas Pierson esq. to whom she bore eight sons and two daughters.  He ended this life on May 11, 1610, his lady, six sons and two daughters still living.”

It was apparently his father John who left Devon for St. Albans in Hertfordshire.  He represented this borough as an MP in the 1550’s.  Sir Henry’s eldest son William became the first Lord Maynard.

Robert Maynard, The Slayer of Blackbeard.  Robert Maynard was the captain in the Royal Navy who caught up with the pirate Blackbeard at Ocracoke inlet off the coast of North Carolina on November 22, 1718.  During the skirmish Blackbeard boarded Maynard’s ship but was ambushed.  He and Maynard ended up in a duel and Blackbeard was killed and beheaded by Maynard.  The city of Hampton in Virginia still celebrates this event every June in its Tall Ships festival.

Maynard himself is believed to be buried back in England in St. Martin’s church at Great Mongeham near Deal in Kent.  The plaque there reads as follows:

“To the memory of Captain Robert Maynard, Faithful and experienced Commander in the Royal Navy, who after he had distinguished himself by many brave and gallant acts in the service of his King and country ????? to this place where he died ????? 1750, aged 67.”

Others think that Maynard may have stayed in America.  There is an oral tradition that he was the father of the four Maynard brothers who grew up in North Carolina in the late 1700’s.

Another story says that Robert Maynard had been a pirate himself and later reverted to piracy again.  Here he lived in the Caribbean until the British caught him and hung him from the gallows for piracy.

The Maynards as Cattle-Breeders.  Maynard’s farm (now the Grange) was at Eryholme in north Yorkshire by the river Tees.  They were cattle-breeders and would send out eight bullocks to the Darlington market every March. According to the following account, these Maynards were instrumental in the development of the short-horn breed of cattle.

“It is generally considered that the foundation of the pure-bred Short-horn breed dates from an eventful day in 1785 when Mr. and Mrs. Charles Colling, together with Charles’ brother Robert, journeyed to Eryholme to visit their friends the Maynards.  John Maynard had firmly refused to part with the grand cow Old Favourite and her heifer calf Young Strawberry, but was later persuaded by his wife to sell both to Mrs. Colling.

The cow, later renamed Lady Maynard, was bred to Foljambe and produced the heifer Phoenix.  The dam of the closely inbred bull Favourite sired the still more closely inbred Comet, this last-named sire securing a permanent place in the history of cattle-breeding when he became the breed’s first one thousand guineas bull.  Today the Short-horn Society has in its possession one of this noted bull’s ribs.”

Maynard, Massachusetts.  The town was named after Amory Maynard, a sixth generation descendant of John Maynard the immigrant.  He had bought the water rights to the Assabet river, installed a dam, and erected a large carpet mill there in 1847.  Amory was in charge of the mill until 1885 when, because of illness, he handed over responsibility to his son Lorenzo.

There was an attempt in 1902 to change the town’s name from Maynard to Assabet. Some townspeople were upset that Amory Maynard had not left the town a gift before he died in 1890.  More were upset that Lorenzo had withdrawn his own money from the mill before it went bankrupt in 1898.  But the state of Massachusetts decided to keep the name as Maynard.

After the woolen mill finally shut down in 1950, local businessmen bought the property and began leasing it as office or manufacturing space.  Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) moved into the complex in 1957, later making Maynard its worldwide headquarters.  Maynard got the nickname of “mini-computer capital of the world.”

There are no Maynards living in Maynard today. However, the Maynard crypt is a prominent feature of the local Glenwood cemetery.

Reader Feedback – Henry Maynard of Maryland.  I am a descendant of the person named Henry Maynard who settled in Anne Arundel county, Maryland in about 1701/2.  The only confirmed piece of his identity comes from when he first purchased his 518 acres of property in Maryland.  On that record of sale he identified himself as “a merchant of London.”  Henry was my 5th great grandfather.

The most authoritative account of Henry and his immediate descendants appeared in an article published in the December 1960 issue of the Quarterly Journal of the National Genealogical Society.  Written by John Frederick Dorman, The Maynard Family of Frederick County, MD provided an account of the first two generations of descendants of Henry and Sarah Maynard of Anne Arundel county.

Another account of Henry Maynard and his descendants appeared in a lengthy article in the September 18, 1904 edition of the Baltimore Sun newspaper. That article included background about the Maynard family of Easton Court in Essex — suggesting by inference that Henry Maynard may have descended from that family.

I have been able to locate the last will and testament of Sir Henry Maynard, son of Charles Maynard and brother of William, 1st Baronet Maynard.  I had hoped to prove that he was the father of my Henry Maynard.   From the evidence in his will, my conclusion is that he was not.

Having also reviewed all of the other male descendants of Sir Henry’s grandfather Sir Henry Maynard, I am coming to the conclusion that Henry Maynard of Anne Arundel must have come from some other Maynard lineage.  That was the mystery that my late father willed to me — and it seems like one that is pretty daunting to solve without some new clues.

My line from Henry Maynard runs as follows:
– Henry Maynard who married Sarah Hopkins
— Thomas Maynard who married Ann Wright
— Thomas Maynard Jr. who married Sarah Beatty
—- Ezra Maynard who married Hannah Robertson
—– Nathan Maynard who married Mary Messinger

Ezra moved from Maryland to Indiana and later to Ohio; Nathan from Ohio to Iowa and then via the Oregon Trail to Oregon.  After Nathan’s untimely death in a wagon accident in 1871 his wife Mary and twelve children eventually moved to the Colton, Washington area.  Later the ranches there were all sold and their descendants dispersed.

My line of the family became separated from that Maynard clan following my grandfather’s death from appendicitis in 1935.  By the time my late father began researching our ancestry in the late 1980’s, he was only able to make connections with a few distant cousins. As I continue the search, every now and then I discover and connect with another distant Maynard cousin.

Steve Maynard (

Reader Feedback – Maynards in North Carolina.  I am a serious researcher of the Maynard surname, and I am especially focused on connecting YDNA of closely related Maynard men who were in North Carolina at the time of the Revolutionary War.  Technical results can be found at the following URL Family Tree DNA – Maynard North Carolina

Closely related Maynard men populated the North Carolina colony before the Revolutionary War, especially in Wake County and Wilkes County.  Five lines of Maynard have been linked via YDNA tests of multiple lines of descendants.

James, Gibson, and Christopher Maynard attended the Old Roaring River Baptist Church and they show up on the same tax lists before 1800.  They are probably brothers.  Very closely related to them by YDNA were William Maynard of Wake County, North Carolina and William Maynard of Pike County, Kentucky.

Ward Maynard (

Edward Maynard, Dentist and Firearms Innovator.  Edward Maynard from Madison county in New York was a renowned American dentist of his day.  He was probably the first to fill the nerve cavity of the tooth with gold.  In 1845, he was offered the position of court dentist by Emperor Nicholas I of Russia, which he declined; and from 1857 until his death in 1891, he was the professor of the theory and practice of dentistry at the Baltimore College of Dental Surgery.

However, that was not the only string to his bow.  Edward Maynard had wanted to be a soldier, but could for health reasons.  He became instead a leading firearms innovator.  Over the course of his life, Maynard was awarded 23 firearms related patents.  He is best known for his first invention, the Maynard tape primer which was fitted to US model 1855 muskets.

Maynard’s rifle patent of 1851 would, in the end, prove far more long lasting than his priming system.  His simple and effective single shot rifle was operated by a lever which, when depressed, opened the breech for loading by raising the barrel.  After insertion of a cartridge, raising the lever closed the gun’s breech.  The loaded rifle was then cocked and primed by placing a cap on its nipple or simply cocked so that its Maynard priming system advanced a primer atop the nipple.  Many of the features of this early rifle were adaptable and incorporated into the later model 1873 rifle.

Early Maynard Wills in Barbados

Charles Maynard 1697 will proven
Nicholas Maynard 1707 will proven (St. Michael’s
Samuel Maynard 1722 will proven (St. Michael’s

Clement T. Maynard in Nassau.  Clement Maynard was a building contractor who had migrated to the Bahamas from Barbados after having worked in Panama and Cuba.  He wanted an easier life than the hard work of building construction.  As he grew older, he used his savings to open two small dry goods stores in Nassau, one on the wharf close to cruise ships arriving from around the world and another on Mackey Street not far from where he lived.  The next step was to attract customers to his stores.  He decided upon a way to do so.

Clement had a gift for choosing store names.  He called the store at Mackey Street Jehovah Jireh, meaning “God provides” and the one on the wharf was emblazoned with the sign Pro Nobis painted on the roof which could be seen from the cruise ships as they docked.  Pro Nobis was the shortened form of the expression Sic Deus pro nobis, quis contra nos? – meaning “if God is for us, who can be against us?”

Countless people, their curiosity piqued, would enter one or other of the stores and ask what its strange name meant.  They would often buy something in order to induce a full and willing answer which he was quite happy to oblige.

Clement’s son Clement was one of the founding fathers of independent Bahamas.

James Maynard and Napoleon’s Gates.  In 1841 the remains of Napoleon were exhumed from his grave at St. Helena and moved to Les Invalides in Paris.  James Maynard then bought the gates that guarded the St. Helena tomb and had them shipped to Cape Town to be placed on the driveway to his estate.  The willow grove at Maynardville was cultivated from cuttings taken from trees surrounding the tomb.

The gates remained at Maynardville for a hundred years, after which time they were returned to Helena to be restored to the original site.

Reader Feedback – Canadian Maynards.  I am a many-generations born Canadian.  My family has been here for a very long time!

We have difficulty tracking beyond landing either on the shore of Prince Edward Island or in the St Lawrence Seaway; or we landed on the shore of Halifax.  It is a possibility that we came with Hudson Bay Company to defend.  We are not sure.

I was told many camp fire stories by my great grandfather Charles.  He was born in 1892 here in the Toronto area.  He fought in both great wars.  He passed away in 1980 or so.  I miss him dearly.

Richard Davies Maynard the pilot died in a test plane.  He flew into the north shore of England from a dive and was not able to pull plane out of a dive from high altitude.  He has two bronze statues.  One is at our capital in Ottawa.  And the other in my family’s home town in Ontario.  There is also a large memorial in England on the north shore where the accident occurred.

My grandfather Charles was a bomber pilot very late in the war. He volunteered after losing his brother Richard. He passed away in 2006.

Wesley Charles Maynard (

Reader Feedback – John Maynard from Kent to Canada.  My Grandpa was James Maynard and his ancestors came to Canada in early 1800’s.  I have a John Maynard in my family tree that came from Kent.

Gordon Tucker (

Maynard Names

  • Captain Robert Maynard was famous for defeating and beheading the pirate Blackbeard off the coast of North Carolina in 1718.
  • Edward Maynard was a prominent 19th century American firearms inventor and later one of its leading dentists.
  • Constance Maynard, educator and feminist, was the first head of Westfield College in London, from 1882 to 1913.
  • Major Forster Maynard from Cornwall was a top scoring air ace during World War I and helped organize the defenses of Malta during World War II.
  • Joan Maynard was a Labor activist from north Yorkshire and an MP from 1974 to 1987.
  • Robert Maynard, born of an immigrant family from Barbados, was a prominent American newspaper publisher in the 1970’s and 1980’s.

Maynard Numbers Today

  • 8,000 in the UK (most numerous in Essex)
  • 13,000 in America (most numerous in Ohio).
  • 8,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada).

Maynard and Like Surnames

The Norman Conquest brought new rulers to England and they brought their names and language, a form of French, with them.  Over time their names became less French and more English in character.  Thus Hamo became Hammond, Reinold Reynolds and Thierry Terry and so forth.  The names Allen, Brett, Everett, and Harvey were probably Breton in origin as Bretons also arrived, sometimes as mercenaries.

The new Norman lords often adopted new last names, sometimes from the lands they had acquired and sometimes from places back in Normandy.  Over time the name here also became more English.  Thus Saint Maur into Seymour, Saint Clair into Sinclair, Mohun into Moon, and Warenne into Warren.

Here are some of these Norman and Breton originating names that you can check out.


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Written by Colin Shelley

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