In the UK there are two arms of the MEE family.
One arm is the Irish MEE, who seem to be of Celtic in origin, Irish researchers have traced the name back to a 12th century Gaelic name. The other arm is the English MEE who were of Norman origin stemming from a family called le Mey who came to England with probably William the Conqueror in 1066.
The MEE's of Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire all seem to stem from a single family in that their ancestors were descendants of Henry le Mey, c 1450 who fought for Richard lll at the battle of Bosworth 1485. Henry Tudor won to become King of England and Henry le Mey lost lands and titles.
About this time he changed his name of his six year old son John le Mey to MEE (possibly to avoid further retribution on his family). There is no evidence that Henry le Mey changed his own name.
English MEE's all appear to descend from John Mee born c 1480, through one of his four sons, Roger of Lockington, William of Diesworth, John of Diesworth and Robert of Aston on Trent. The two main (most numerous) branches being the two descendants of William and Robert.
In the early 1600 a second influx of the Normandy family came to England, their name was spelt variously le Mey, Lemay, and interestingly Le Mee. They were Huguenots escaping the persecution in France. They became merchants in London and established the 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 11th 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.
Here is a list of the earliest le Meys (MEE) from 1167. Note there is unfortunately no lineage.
1120. Richard le Mey of Pulton Chester
1120. Richard de Meisham circa 1120-1170 1150. Ralph Le Mey of Meisham, also known as Ralph de Meisham son of Richard de Meisham, known to be alive in 1150. Married Benec..( end of name illegible).
1167. William Le Mey of Long Whatton.
Source: Leicester library references re the West Goscote Hundred mentions the name William le Mey in 1167, 1177, and 1189.
1200. William Le Mey 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
2.. his name occurs as a witness in 15 deeds from Willesley.
1220. Godehouda Le Mey: born 1220 daughter of William of Meisham.
Source: same as William above.
1220. Richard de Meisham alive during the reign of Richard l.
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 Le Mey above) died 1278.
1.. Service and homage given to the Abbot of Merivale co. Warwick.
2.. 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 Mey (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 Le Mey of Donington le Heath.
Source: an Inquisition of Edward l (A.D. 1279) registered as holding
3 virgrates (90 Acres) of land of the Prior of Cherley, held of the honour
of the Earldom of Chester.
1305. Matthew Le Mey of Breedon.
1327. John Le Mey of Newton Burgoland.
Same as Henricus below.
1327. Henricus Le Mey of Normanton.
The lay subsidy roll of Edward lll, (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.
1350. Sir John Mecum, (John Mey of Loddington) born 1350
Inquisition 48 of Edward III dated 1374-5 (this gives his age as 24)
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 le Mays) to change their names.
1390. Richard Le Mey of Toton. Archer at the Battle of Agincourt in the retinue of Baron Grey of Derby.
1404. John Mee; instituted as First Priest of Chaddesden, co Derby.
Episcopal records of Litchfield.
1404. William le Mey of Diesworth.
1415. John Mee of Derby.
1450. Henry le Mey of Castle Donington.
Henry le Mey's father or grandfather was possible William le Mey of Diesworth (known to be the title holder of the le Mey Family). Henry was the last of the le Meys to be the holder of the lands and titles. He lost his lands and titles because he fought on the Yorkist side in the wars of the roses. The name changed to MEE also happened at the same time.