Select May Miscellany

 

Here are some May stories
and
accounts over the years:

 

The Death of Thomas May

 

Thomas May, the writer
and historian,
was much in favor with the court of Charles
I.  However, h
aving
failed to be
appointed
Poet
Laureate
, his
sympathies turned to the Parliamentarians.
He died
in 1650.  It was said
that he was
found dead in his bed due to his night cap being too tightly tied under
his
rather fat chin and he choked.
  He was
buried in the
south transept of Westminster Abbey.
A
white marble monument was set up for him near the grave. The Latin
inscriptionin translation went as follows:
“Champion
of the English Republic, ornament of letters, most renowned poet of his
age,
delight of posterity, another Lucan, more than Roman, loyal historian,
first-born son of a knight, T
homas May, is
buried here, who added his own glory and
fame to his father’s titles. He was invited by the supreme council of
England
to write its history. 
At last, having
shown a flawless loyalty to Parliament, he was suddenly carried off by
death
during the night and met his end on the thirteenth of November in the
second
year of the restitution of liberty to England, 1650.
 The
Parliament of the Republic of England
erected this in honor of her well-deserving servant
.” 


When Charles II was restored to the throne all
regicides and followers of Cromwell who had been buried in the Abbey
were
dis-interred. May’s body
was buried in
a pit in St Margaret’s churchyard in
1661, just outside the Abbey
and his
monument was taken down
It was
not until 1880 that he received a new
memorial stone in the Abbey
.

 

Mays at St. Austell

The
Mays
were said to have been an ancient family resident in St. Austell in
Cornwall.
  The north aisle of St. Austell church contains a
large tablet of slate
inscribed to members of the May family with dates of 1594 and 1601.

Five vicars named May
served the three parish churches around St. Austell over a period of
one
hundred and forty years.  Ralph May was
appointed in 1584 and served in St. Austell for thirty seven years.  Then King James I appointed Joseph May who
“enjoyed the esteem of his flock for forty years.”  In 1660 King
Charles II appointed Joseph MayJr. who served for fifteen years.
Another Joseph
May was appointed vicar of St. Ewe in 1679 and served for seventeen
years.  The
other neighboring parish of St. Mewan also had a May vicar, Samuel, who
was
appointed in 1729
.


Admiral Sir William May and His Forebears



Admiral May described his family history as follows in
his memoirs Life of a Sailor:

My father was born
in Holland
in 1805 and was the son of Admiral May of the Dutch Navy
My grandfather
was a
distinguished man
who
assisted in restoring the Prince of Orange to
the throne of Holland.
 He was a
clever engineer
and his plans were adopted for improving the canal system in Holland.

My father’s
forebears
, as
recorded
in the
pedigree table
, show
that John May,
a
naval architect,
went to Holland in the
17th century
and the
family remained there until my
father
returned and settled in England. Although
the family were in Holland for so many generations, all my ancestors
married
British wives.

My father
settled in Liverpool and married Ann Jane Freckleton in 1840.
 I was
the fifth of ten children and was born on
July 31st, 1849
One of
my godfathers
was Prince Henry of the Netherlands, brother of the then reigning King
.  He was
present at my
christening
.”

There is a portrait of John
May the master shipbuilder at the age of eighty which hangs at the
National
Maritime Museum at Greenwich in London
.

 

 

The Mays in Belfast


In
1795 Sir Edward May from Waterford, who was
described at the time as “a moneylender who also ran a gaming house,”
managed
to get the aristocratic Lord Donegall released from debtors’ prison.  He then offered his daughter Anna in
marriage, an obligation which his lordship felt obliged to accept. 

The couple came to Belfast
in 1802 to escape his debtors and brought the May family with them.  Anna had been under-age at the time of her
marriage at an obscure church in London in 1795 and should have had the
permission of the courts.  But this had
not been sought.  So, as a consequence,
the marriage was declared as unlawful.

Still,
the Mays prospered in Belfast.  Sir
Edward was its MP for many years in the early 1800’s.
Edward
Street in Belfast was named after Sir Edward, as was Great Edward
Street, May
Street and May’s Market.

Sir Edward pioneered the reclamation of land from the
edges of Belfast Lough.  However, he was
regarded as the man who desecrated the graves of those buried at St.
George’s
graveyard at High Street and Ann Street in order to sell the land for
the
development of Church Street and Ann Street.

 

 

Colonel Joseph May

Joseph May was the son of a
relatively modest lumber dealer in Boston.
Enterprising and ambitious, he had by the age of thirty become a
rich
and extremely gregarious man.  Outside of
his family he was distinguished by his snuff habit and for wearing
outmoded
black stockings and knee knuckles.  All
Boston knew of his vanity about his shapely legs.

However, he made some bad investments.
To clear his debts and his name he gave up
everything he owned, including even the gold rings on his fingers.  From 1800, the later part of his life was
lived in more modest circumstances.  He
became
Warden of King’s Chapel in Boston, the first Unitarian
church in
America
.

Reader Feedback – Mays in
Virginia

I
am doing research on our May family who, according to oral tradition
and
some documentation, seem to have come from Sussex
county
in Virginia.
 The
link that I’m most confident in is for a
John May who was a soldier in the War of 1812
.  He was born
about 1782-84 from Greenville
county, then part
of Sussex
county.
 

I believe his father was Allen May who married
Elizabeth Whitehorn. There was
an Allen May born in 1744 to John and
Elizabeth. This seems a likely candidate.
  I
think our most distant ancestor then was a May
who might have come during the early colonization of Virginia.
 

Do you have any resources on the early Virginia
May families that could help? 

As far as DNA, my
Y-DNA test shows a close relationship with the Mayhew family of
Massachusetts.  Mayhew
was the first governor of Mass
achusetts.  It
appears our link may be from back in England
and it was common to list the Mayhews as May/Maye/Mayes/Mayo. There are
also a
few Mayos in early Virginia which is a possible connection.
 

Warren L. May (VanArles@aol.com)

May Arrivals in America

Country of Origin Numbers Percent
England    1,051     46
Ireland      448     19
Scotland       79      3
Germany      782     32
Total    2,360    100

 

 

The Demise of
the William B. May Agency

It was
said that the
William B. May real estate family had a long
history, dating back to the 17th century in England where the family
sold
prized London properties to the Crown estate.
They had been present in New York real estate ever since 1866
and
sold there
some of Manhattan’s finest homes on the Upper East Side to pedigreed
families such
as the Carnegies, Fricks and Vanderbilts.

However,
this long history has come to an end.  In June 2004 Mrs.
William B. May Jr, matron of the agency, received a gift from her
son-in-law
Peter Marra, a tribute for her 84th birthday.  She
sent the box back unopened.

Her son William Talcott May was the
co-chairman and the eccentric fourth generation member of the family
company.  Perhaps this eccentricity was due
to a
bipolar disorder.  He had a felony
conviction for leaving fake bombs at a local airport after 9/11 to
highlight
its lax security.  He was sometimes seen “
wearing
a
fire-truck-red Scottish kilt and a navy-blue wool sweater, his broad,
leonine
cheekbones streaked with charcoal-hued face paint, looking more
Braveheart than
businessman.” 

It
was this William Talcott May who sat down with William Lie Zeckendorf
at the Chestertown Yacht Club on the Chesapeake Bay.
They were there to broker a settlement deal
to put his family’s company back together after May’s brother-in-law
Peter
Marra had left the firm to join a rival establishment that was owned by
the
Zeckendorfs.  His exit had brought the
two companies close to dueling lawsuits.

The
rift in the family launched a
battle for control of the privately held company.  In
the end the May family members sold out
their interest to a Century 21 franchisee, Kevin B. Brown and
Associates.  Their name remains.  But the family business has gone
.

 

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