MF2 - THE MAY FAMILY IN AFRICA
M2/5. Percy Augustus May = (1st) Ada Florence Spearman.
(1879-1963) [m.1900] (1874 - 1909)
= (2nd) Mabel Helene Squires nee Nolan.
[m. 1919] (1883 - 1962)
Percy Augustus May was born on 11th.March, 1879 in Reigate and he was the second youngest in the family of Charles May and Caroline Amelia May nee Glessing. Owing to his Mother's German descent he was originally registered as Gustavus Percy, but was always called Percy or known by the nickname of 'Slump', given by his family.
Girlie informed us that this change of name from the German style was not by Deed Poll but just by usage, according to her father.
Percy did not talk much about his childhood in England, but it is known that he went to France to finish his education and became very proficient in the French language, speaking without a foreign accent and like a Parisian.
In his usual quizzical way, when his son asked him what was the best way to learn to speak French he said, 'Take out a French prostitute and don't pay her! In that way, you learn the language very quickly '. He was always one for a little light-hearted joke.
Another was a teasing remark whenever there was any complaint, either to or from him, he would say it was 'because he had a bone in his leg'.
And a favourite saying was, 'What a life without a wife, ten times worse with one!' I remember that these little joking remarks were typical of him and the May family in general.
Doris was of the opinion that her father was educated in France simply because he was the youngest boy in the family [and by then they were presumably more able to afford the expense.]
Percy Augustus May was married on 27th.August, 1900 in Malden to Ada Florence Spearman, she was born on 18th.August, 1874 in Suffolk, the daughter of William Spearman and Florence Maud Spearman nee Parmentier. Ada Florence May nee Spearman died a couple of days after her 35th.birthday, on 22nd.August, 1909 in Ostende, Belgium, as the family were on their way home to England.
Census: 1901, Percy A May - aged 22, married, living at 9,Tolverne Road, North Wimbledon. Own account working at home. 2 others in family [Source 1901 Census via Sarah Jane Day]
Sarah J. Day wrote on 6/10/2002:
Been to KEW and found out:
9 Toverne Rd, North Wimbledon
Percy A May - Head 22 as bank clerk; own account working at home. Born at Redhill
Ada L May - wife age 27 as dressmaker. Born Chitton Sudbury, Suffolk
Helen Spearman - sister in law - single born Chilton Sudbury
[There was an Emma Parmentier traced, who was nine years old in 1847. Perhaps this was the sister of Florence Maud Spearman nee Parmentier, in other words the great aunt of the four May children.]
Doris wrote (14.11.1988): 'I expect you know that Pa was educated in Paris and at one time we lived in Belgium, where Jack was born at a place called Rance. Pa was Manager of a Watch and Clock factory, where a lot of marble and bronze was used in their manufacture. [Doris had a small bust of Napoleon in bronze and marble made there, so she added the factory may have been more for statue production than watch and clock manufacture. Also on the mantelpiece of the May's home 'Wellwood, in Rouwkoop Road, Rondebosch there were two bronze statuettes and a marble and bronze clock from the days when he was employed there. The clock was handed down to Victor's grandson, Sean Colgan, who now lives in Perth, Australia, as does his sister, Elizabeth but Desia Colgan remained in South Africa]. At one time he[Percy] had a farm in England and I still remember the watercress growing in the stream and the gypsy caravan on the property. In the First World War he joined the City of London Volunteers and when it came to going to fight in France he was in a dilemma as to what would happen to his children. It was then, in 1916, he was sent to Livingstone by the Chartered Company.
I know nothing about my Mother, I was only three years and 10 months old when she died. [It would seem that Doris was mistaken over this and she meant four years and 10 months old] I have a photo of her with a bicycle and another of her in a group with Pa, Auntie Baddy and my Mother's sister, Nell [Parmentier].' Desia Wood also mentioned that Doris had a sampler worked by Emma Parmentier.
Desia Wood wrote in January, 2002: 'Aunt Doris told me that her Father left England in 1916 because he was concerned that (a) he would be unable to support his children if called up, (b) having German connections could mean internment. For that reason also, he changed his name from Gustavus Percival to Percy Augustus.'
And to continue, 'I was told that the cause of my Grandmother's early demise was peritonitis after the birth of Jack, but I note that Jack was already 17 months old when she died.'
According to Phillip's recollections he would tell of the time when he [Percy] was living in Wimbledon, in about 1898, and saw a man, reputed to be 'Jack the Ripper' running away up the street. Apparently 'Jack' used to announce his expected whereabouts beforehand. Another story was in connection with his attempt to run a pub, which got into financial difficulties because of the number of drinks that were given away by him without charge.
Address: (Facts Page) 1: 1878 Redhill
Address: (Facts Page) 2: 1881 Croydon
Census 1881 31, Alexandra Road, Croydon, Surrey aged 2