John Major was born on March 29, 1943, in St Helier, Surrey, England, United Kingdom. He is the younger son of Thomas Major and Gwendolyn Minny Coates. His father was Abraham Thomas Ball, later to take the stage name Major, a master bricklayer in his early life, a juggler, acrobat and comedian in the theatre throughout his mid-life, and a businessman at the end.
His mother, Tom Major's second wife, also worked in the theatre. He was christened John Roy Major but only John Major was recorded on his birth certificate. He used his middle name until the early 1980s. He had a brother, Terry Major-Ball.