Christian Gustav Adolph Mayer was born on February 15, 1839, in Leipzig, Kingdom of Prussia (now Sachsen, Germany). His father, Christian Adolph Mayer, was a merchant, banker and financial advisor from Leipzig with a prosperous business so that the family was well off. Mayer's family had lived in Leipzig for several generations having emigrated from St Gallen in the seventeenth century. Christian Adolph Mayer was a family name given to the eldest son of each generation, so Adolph Mayer's paternal grandfather was also named Christian Adolph Mayer and was also a banker in Leipzig. Christian Mayer's mother was Agnes Frege, the daughter of Christian Gottlob Frege, a banker, and financial advisor, and Johanna Henriette Rode.