Mayor 1839 – 1840.
Second Term of Office – 1847 – 1848.
Member of the Liberal Party.
A Nonconformist – Protestant Dissenter.
A Freeman of Maldon by right of birth, his father being a Freeman thereof.
John moved to Ipswich in 1812 and was a provision merchant by business. He was elected in 1835 as one of the first Councillors for the Borough. He remained a member of the Council until the 31st January 1855.
Born: 11th June 1785, Maldon, Essex.
Father: John May, born 1760, All Saint’s, Maldon, Essex, baptised 31st December 1760, at Newland Street Independent Church. A wine & brandy merchant and a Freeman of Maldon. John May died 28th July 1837, The West Friary House, Maldon, Essex.
Mother: Ann Horrocks May (nee Rutt), born 1763, St. Andrew by the Wardrobe, London. Ann May died 18th December 1841, St. Pancras, Middlesex. Image courtesy of Marjorie.
Ann Rutt May, born 7th October 1783, All Saint’s, Maldon, privately baptised on the same day. Later registered at Great Stoneham Street Independent Chapel, Coggeshall. Ann lived with her spinster sisters –Frances and Lucy, at their family home The East Friary House, which was on the grounds of The West House Friary – family home of their brother Henry May, his wife Fanny May (nee Trigg), and their family. Later their sister-in-law Mary Ann May also came to live with the ladies. Ann May died 8th November 1861, at Maldon.
Myra May, born 27th December 1786, All Saint’s, Maldon, baptised 1788, at Great Stoneham Street Independent Chapel, Coggeshall. On the 22nd May 1832, at Spitalfields Christ Church, Stepney, London, Myra, of Liberty of Norton Folgate, Middlesex married her late sister Emma’s widower, Charles Burton, born 29th September 1788, High Easter, Essex, baptised 21st October 1788, at Broad Oak Congregational Church, Hatfield Heath, Essex, an Alderman of Ipswich, wholesale grocer and shipowner – a master employing 6 men. Charles was a member of the Liberal Party; he served as Mayor of Ipswich 1848 – 1849. Myra Burton died 28th November 1861, at her residence 3, Henley Road, Ipswich. Charles May died 22nd December 1877, at his residence Ivry Street, Ipswich. Laid to rest in the family vault, 25th December 1877, at the burial ground of Tacket Street Chapel, Ipswich.
George May, born 22nd June 1788, All Saint’s, Maldon, baptised 1788, at Great Stoneham Street Independent Chapel, Coggeshall. On the 17th September 1813, at Barking, Essex, George married Elizabeth Parker, born 1790, Barking, Essex – only child of the Reverend John Kenneth Parker, a minister of Barking Congregational Chapel. Elizabeth and George had three children. George was a surgeon – M.R.C.S. London, he practised in Maldon. When his son George Parker May obtained his degrees from Edinburgh University, they set up a practise under the title “May and Son,” later George became a senior partner of “May, May, and Gutteridge, Surgeons” when Edwin Parker Gutteridge joined the successful firm. George became a Magistrate for the Borough of Maldon, and served as Mayor of Maldon in 1838, 1841, 1851, 1855, 1861, 1865 and 1866. Elizabeth May died 10th June 1864, Maldon. George May died Friday, 17th February 1871, after a long illness, at his residence, St. Mary’s, Maldon. Laid to rest in the family vault at the Independent Chapel.
Alfred May, born 6th February 1790, All Saint’s, Maldon, baptised 15th March 1790, at Great Stoneham Street Independent Chapel, Coggeshall. On the 5th August 1819, at Bassingbourn, Cambridgeshire, Alfred married Elizabeth Prime, born 1796, Bassingbourn – second daughter of Thomas Prime and Sarah Prime (nee Wallis), of Bassingbourn. Elizabeth and Alfred had five children. Alfred was an auctioneer, he held auctions for dwelling houses and gardens, shops, and household furniture, and farming sales including live or dead farming stock. Alfred was a staunch Liberal, he became a Magistrate for the Borough of Maldon, and served as Mayor of Maldon in 1842, 1849, 1853 and 1859. Elizabeth May died 26th June 1851, after a few days’ illness, at Maldon. Alfred died 13th October 1862, at Maldon. Laid to rest Saturday, 18th October 1862, in the family vault in the burial ground adjoining the Chapel, Maldon.
Elizabeth May, born 21st May 1791, All Saint’s, Maldon, baptised 9th August 1791, at Great Stoneham Street Independent Chapel, Coggeshall. On the 26th August 1813, at All Saint’s and St. Peter’s Church, Maldon, Elizabeth married Charles James Metcalfe, born 12th October 1786, Fordham, Cambridgeshire. Elizabeth and Charles had eight children, they made their home at Roxton House, which was built by Charles’s grandfather, William Roxton in 1737. On the 31st May 1808, Charles Metcalfe, as Lord of the Manor, opened a barn for preaching on the Lord’s day. By 1822, with Charles as the sponsor, the thatch roofed barn was enlarged began and formal resolutions were made for the formation of Roxton Chapel to be an Independent Church. Charles Metcalfe died 20th February 1855, at Roxton House. Laid to rest 28th February 1855, at Roxon. Elizabeth moved to Golders Green, Hendon to become a school mistress with her daughters Fanny and Anna – principals and proprietors of Highfield Ladies’ School, a highly acclaimed boarding school for young ladies. Elizabeth May died 11th December 1885, Highfield, Hendon, Middlesex.
Emma May, born 15th February 1793, All Saint’s, Maldon, baptised 25th April 1793, at Great Stoneham Street Independent Chapel, Coggeshall. On the 14th October 1817, at All Saint’s & St. Peter’s Church, Maldon, Emma married Charles Burton, born 29th September 1788, High Easter, Essex, baptised 21st October 1788, at Broad Oak Congregational Church, Hatfield Heath, Essex. A wholesale grocer and shipowner. Emma and Charles had 7 children. Emma Burton died 2nd March 1830, after a long affliction, at her residence at Tavern Street, Ipswich. Laid to rest at the burial ground at Tacket Street Independent Chapel, Ipswich. In 1832, widower Charles married Emma’s sister Myra May. As a Liberal, Charles became a member of the Council, he served as Mayor of Ipswich 1848 – 1849 and became an Alderman of Ipswich. Charles May died 22nd December 1877, at his residence Ivry Street, Ipswich. Laid to rest in the family vault, 25th December 1877, at the burial ground of Tacket Street Chapel, Ipswich.
William May, born 24th June 1794, Maldon, baptised 15th August 1794, at an Independent Church, Great Coggeshall. In 1818, William moved to Ipswich to join his brother, John in business as a provision merchant. On the 20th November 1823, at St. Giles Church, Camberwell, Surrey, William, of Ipswich, married Mary Ann Simon, born 23rd January 1796, Southwark, Surrey, baptised 17th February 1796, at St. George the Martyr’s Church, Southwark, Surrey – daughter of James Simon, a gentleman, and Mary Simon, of 14, Crosby Row Walworth, Surrey. William May died May 1849, at Ipswich. Laid to rest 5th May 1849, at the burial ground of Tacket Street Independent Church, Ipswich. After the death of her husband, Mary Ann May lived with her sisters-in-law, Frances, Ann and Lucy at their family home The East Friary House, which was on the grounds of The West House Friary – family home of Mary Ann’s brother-in-law, Henry May, a Wine & Spirit Merchant, and his wife Fanny May (nee Trigg), and their family. Mary Ann May died 7th February 1871, at her residence The East Friary, Maldon.
Sarah Ruth May, born 17th June 1796, All Saint’s, Maldon, baptised 9th September 1796, twin sister to Lucy May. On the 2nd November 1837, at the Independent Chapel, Maldon, Sarah married the Reverend Henry Winzar, of Roxton, Bedfordshire, born 23rd June 1806, Salisbury, Wiltshire, baptised 15th February 1807, Endless Street Independent Chapel, Salisbury. Sarah and Henry had 2 sons. Sarah became blind in her 60’s. Henry was a Congregational Minister who had held pastorate at Roxon, Bedfordshire, Chipping Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, and Forest Gate, Essex. Sarah Winzar died 3rd September 1873, Walton-on-the-Naze, Essex. Henry died 13th March 1885, at 47, Hanley Road, Hornsey Rise, Middlesex, formerly of Walton-on-the-Naze. Laid to rest 14th March 1885, Camden, London.
Lucy May, born 17th June 1796, All Saint’s, Maldon, baptised 9th September 1796, at Great Stoneham Street Independent Chapel, Coggeshall. Twin sister to Sarah Ruth May. Lucy lived with her spinster sisters – Ann and Frances, at their family home The East Friary House, which was on the grounds of The West House Friary – family home of their brother Henry May, his wife Fanny May (nee Trigg), and their family. Later their sister-in-law Mary Ann May also came to live with the ladies. Lucy May died 1st January 1870, at Maldon.
Rachel May, born 3rd November 1797, Maldon, baptised 5th March 1798 at Great Stoneham Street Independent Chapel, Coggeshall. On the 3rd May 1826, at Maldon, Rachel married Joseph Sharp, born 1802, a cheese factor. Rachel and Joseph had five children. Joseph Sharp died 27th May 1840, of a rapid consumption, at his residence Fishpool Street, St. Albans, Hertfordshire. Rachel and her children stayed together. Rachel Sharp died 1873, Hendon, Middlesex.
Frances May, born 1799, Maldon. Frances lived with her spinster sisters – Ann and Lucy, at their family home The East Friary House, which was on the grounds of The West House Friary – family home of their brother Henry May, his wife Fanny May (nee Trigg), and their family. Later their sister-in-law Mary Ann May also came to live with the ladies. Frances May died 1st August 1877, at her residence, The Hill, Maldon.
Hannah May, born 1801, All Saint’s, Maldon, baptised 1st January 1802, at St. Peter’s Independent Chapel, Maldon. Hannah May died 1807, Maldon.
Charles May, born 16th October 1802, All Saint’s, Maldon, baptised 18th November 1802, at St. Peter’s Independent Chapel, Maldon. In 1841, Bedfordshire, Charles married Harriet Jackson, born 1810, Maldon. Harriet and Charles had four children. Charles May died 15th February 1861, Brussels, Belgium.
Sophia May, born 1802, Maldon, baptised 18th November 1802, at St. Peter’s Independent Chapel, Maldon. Sophia May died February 1803, Maldon. Laid to rest in the family vault in the burial ground adjoining the Chapel, Maldon.
Henry May, born 1806, Maldon, baptised 4th April 1806, at St. Peter’s Independent Chapel, Maldon. On the 6th November 1834, at Barrington, Cambridgeshire, Henry married Fanny Trigg, born 1808, Bassingbourn, Cambridgeshire, sister to John Trigg. Fanny and Henry had ten children. Henry was a Wine and Spirit Merchant. In 1860, Henry supported the formation of the Maldon Volunteer Corps, he was an Ensign until his death. Henry May died 7th March 1868, at Friary, Maldon. Fanny May moved to live with her widowed daughter, Agnes Copland (nee May), and grandaughter at their home in Chelmsford, Essex. Fanny May died 6th May 1881, at her daughter’s residence of Rodney Villas, Chelmsford.
Hannah Pattisson May, born 17th July 1810, All Saint’s, Maldon, baptised 12th September 1810, at St. Peter’s Independent Chapel, Maldon. In 1845, Maldon, Hannah married John Trigg, born 1806, Bassingbourn, Cambridgeshire. Hannah and John had two daughters. John was a farmer of 400 acres at Kelshall, Hertfordshire. John Trigg died 19th December 1856, at Kelshall. Hannah Trigg died 17th November 1857, at Therfield, Hertfordshire, late of Kelshall.
On the 24th August 1818, at St. Martin in the Fields, Middlesex, John married Hannah Bunnell, born 4th June 1795, St. Martin in the Fields, Middlesex, baptised 15th September 1795, at Mill Hill Independent Church, Hendon – daughter of Zachariah Bunnell and Mary Bunnell (nee Savage), of Islington, London.
Hannah Bunnell was entered on the 26th October 1803 into the Dr. William’s Library Registry – Births – 1824 – 1827 – witnesses: Catherine Stiff & Mary Binford.
Father: Zachariah Bunnell, born 1756, London, baptised 28th December 1756, at Fetter Lane Independent Church, London. Zachariah had a household hardware shop at 7, New Street, Covent Garden, London. Zachariah died August 1833, at his residence Tyndale Place, Islington. Laid to rest 14th August 1833, at Bunhill Fields Burial Grounds, City Road, Islington.
Mother: Mary Bunnell (nee Savage – daughter of Samuel Savage, a glover), born 1763, Islington. Mary Bunnell died 12th August 1849, at her residence Tyndale Place, Islington.
John and Hannah had 6 children:
John May, born 29th July 1821, St. Margaret’s, Ipswich; baptised 9th November 1821, at Tacket Street Independent Church, Ipswich. John May was entered into the Dr. William’s Library Registry – Births – 29th January 1828 – witnesses: Alexander Bennett & Frances Payne. In 1851, Ipswich, John married Lydia Unwin, born October 1821, Ewell Hall, Kelvedon, Essex – daughter of Jacob Unwin, a farmer. Lydia May died 1879, Ipswich. Laid to rest at Ipswich Old Cemetery, Section Q. John was a Provision and Cheese Merchant. He was elected a Liberal Councillors for the Borough of Ipswich, in November 1865. He served as Mayor of Ipswich in 1883-1884. John was a Deacon of Tacket Street Congregational Church. On the 5th January 1888, at Cowes, Isle of Wight, Hampshire, John married Elizabeth Savery Addems (nee Foster), born 1834, Holborn, London – daughter of James Savery Foster, an accountant and Mary Foster (nee Weare), of London; Elizabeth was sister to Jane Foster wife of John’s brother George Henry May. Elizabeth was the widow of William Addems, a farmer, of Bovey Tracey, Devonshire. John May became stepfather to Elizabeth and William’s daughter, Elizabeth Ellen Addems. John May died 4th March 1905, Broughton Place, Belstead Road, Ipswich. Laid to rest in the grave of his first wife at Ipswich Old Cemetery, Section Q. Elizabeth Savery May died 1st November 1917, at the Grosvenor, Chine Crescent, Bournemouth, Dorset, of Broughton Place, Belstead Road, Ipswich.
Joseph Bunnell May, born 7th June 1823, St. Clement’s, Ipswich, baptised an 31st October 1823, Tacket Street Independent Church, Ipswich. Joseph May was entered into the Dr. William’s Library Registry – Births – 29th January 1828 – witnesses: Alexander Bennett & Frances Payne. On the 16th September 1857, at Turret Green Chapel, Ipswich, Joseph married Martha Ann Notcutt Goddard, born 14th May 1824, St. Margaret’s, Ipswich, baptised 15th August 1824, at Tacket Street Independent Church, Ipswich – fourth daughter of Daniel Poole Goddard and Lucy Goddard (nee Haill), a superintendent of the Ipswich gas works. Joseph and Martha married on the same day, at the same chapel as Martha’s sister Lucy Caroline Goddard and the Reverend John Alexander. Martha and Joseph had two children. Joseph was an Auctioneer. Martha May died 2nd August 1891, at Orwell Lodge, Weston Road, West Cowes, Isle of Wight. On the 21st June 1894, at Above Bar Congregational Church, Joseph married Hannah Lewis, born 1843, Norton Folgate, London – daughter of William Jones Lewis, a surgeon, and Elizabeth Lewis (nee Bunnell), of Croydon, Surrey. Joseph died 2nd August 1891, at Orwell Lodge, Weston Road, West Cowes, Isle of Wight. Hannah May died 26th January 1908, at Orwell Lodge, Weston Road, West Cowes, Isle of Wight.
Sarah Bunnell May, born 1st December 1826, St. Peter’s, Ipswich, baptised: 29th January 1828, Tacket Street Independent Church, Ipswich. Sarah was entered into the Dr. William’s Library Registry – Births – 29th January 1828 – witnesses: Alexander Bartlell & Elizabeth French (signed with an X). Sarah lived with her sisters Annie and Elizabeth. Sarah May died 16th February 1920, at 1, Glenloch Road, Haverstock Hill, London.
George Henry May, born 1832, Ipswich, baptised 10th October 1832, at Tacket Street Independent Church, Ipswich. An Ironmonger, Ship Chandler, and Yacht Fitter. On the 4th June 1861, at Poultry Independent Chapel, Camomile Street, London, George married Jane Foster, born 1840, Manchester, Lancashire – youngest daughter of James Savery Foster, an accountant and Mary Foster (nee Weare), of London. Jane was sister to Elizabeth Savery Addems (nee Foster), wife of George’s brother John May. Jane and George had eight children. In 1867, the May family moved to the Isle of Wight. George became the head of a yachting fitting and ironmongery business, High Street, Cowes. He retired in 1913. George was a Sunday School teacher at the Congregational Church for over 40 years and served as the church secretary for 38 years and 8 more as treasurer. Jane May died March 1907, Lucerne Villa, Newport Road, Cowes, Isle of Wight. George May died 26th January 1923, Lucerne Villa, Newport Road, Cowes, Isle of Wight. Laid to rest at Northwood Cemetery, Cowes.
Ann May, born 24th November 1834, Ipswich, baptised 15th May 1835, at Tackett Street Independent Church, Ipswich. Annie lived with her sisters Sarah and Elizabeth in London. Ann May died 14th October 1917, at Ornan Mansions, Hampstead.
Elizabeth Myra May, born 1837, Ipswich. Elizabeth lived with her sisters Annie and Sarah in London. Elizabeth May died 20th December 1931, at Orwell Lodge, Granville Road, West Cowes, Isle of Wight.
1841 St. Margaret’s Green, St. Margaret’s, Ipswich.
John was 53 years old, a Merchant. He was married and head of the household.
2 female servants.
1851 St. Peter’s Street, St. Peter’s, Ipswich.
John was 65 years old, an Alderman & Cheese Merchant. He was married and head of the household.
John, 29, a Commercial Traveller – Cheese Merchant’s
George, 18, a Clerk – Cheese Merchant.
2 general domestic servants.
1861 26, Pyle Street, Newport, Isle of Wight, Hampshire.
John was 75 years old, a Magistrate & Fundholder. He was married and head of the household.
1 general domestic servant.
1871 85, Carisbrook Road, Newport, Isle of Wight, Hampshire.
John was 85 years old, a Magistrate and a retired Cheese Dealer. He was married and head of the household.
1 general domestic servant.
John May died 29th April 1873, Newport, Isle of Wight. Laid to rest at Carisbrooke Burial Ground, Isle of Wight.
Hannah May died on the 27th November 1876, Newport, Isle of Wight.
FIRST TERM OF OFFICE
On Saturday, 9th November 1839, a meeting of the Town Council was held at the Town Hall, there was a full attendance. The first business of the evening was to appoint a gentleman to fill the office of mayor during the ensuing year. Mr. Frederick Seekamp rose to propose Mr. John May to fill the office of Mayor. Mr. Samuel Harrison Cowell seconded the nomination.
Mr. Charles Meadows immediately rose to exclaim to the meeting that he could not suffer the nomination to go forth. Mr. May is an inveterate enemy of the established church and has showed it on every occasion. Charles was encouraged to sit down – but he would not and continued to explain that whenever a church rate has been applied for in this Council Mr. May had taken every step in his power to deprive the Clergymen of their just rights. He repeated that Mr. May was an inveterate enemy of the church and was therefore not a proper person to be put in nomination to fill the office of Mayor of the ancient town of Ipswich. Charles continued that he felt duty bound to the constituency that he had the honour to represent and to the town, to put a gentleman in nomination in opposition to Mr. John May; a gentleman who had already filled the duties, with credit to himself and the town. He begged leave to propose Mr. Peter Bartholomew Long, Esquire, as Mayor for the ensuing year. With great pleasure Mr. James Haill rose to second Mr. Meadows’s proposition.
Mr. Peter Long told the Council that the proposal had been made without his knowledge, and certainly without my sanction. He felt it was customary to ask a gentleman if he would be willing to serve before proposing him. Much as he was flattered by the proposition, he would on this occasion have to decline, and continued that he would now vote for the gentleman first nominated – Mr. John May.
Peter requested the gentlemen withdraw the proposal and let the election be made without opposition. But Charles Meadows thought it was his incumbent duty to press the amendment. Peter Long replied that he was still not under any circumstances going to serve.
Mr. Charles Cowell told the Council that throughout the three kingdoms of the realm religious liberty and equality had been established. It seemed the worthy gentlemen who had submitted the proposal of Mr. Peter Long, were inimical and hostile to that religious equality and freedom. Mr. Meadows and Mr. Haill, again propose to bring into the field, and force upon us, this miserable unpleasantness of long-gone ages. That miserable and exclusive system of barbarous legislation. The two worthy gentlemen would not have the presumption to insinuate that Mr. John May, or any other individuals who are dissenters from the Established Church, and possess the confidence of the inhabitants of Ipswich, would forget the position they are placed in by the voters and the choice of the council. Mr. John May, if elected to the office of mayor will discharge his duties and execute the law as chief magistrate with impartiality.
The Mayor of Ipswich, Mr. George Green Sampson put the proposition and Mr. John May was elected, with two dissentients – Mr. Charles Meadows and Mr. James Haill.
John May was duly elected Mayor of Ipswich.
Addressing the Council as Mayor-elect, John May begged most distinctly to say that he had always acted his in capacity as a town councillor to discharge his duty faithfully and conscientiously. When he had voted against Church-rates on one or two occasions, they just so happened to be in rates for the parish in which Mr. Charles Meadows resides, but was this proof that he was opposed to the Established Church? Could not Mr. Meadows bring something more, if he wished to fix that stigma of inveterate enemy of the established church upon him? The Mayor-elect having observed that he had taken office of Mayor in compliance with the request of his friends in the council, to hold the balance equal, concluded by thanking the council for the honour conferred upon him.
Mr. Benjamin Brame proposed a vote of thanks to the late Mayor, Mr. George Green Sampson. Mr. William May seconded the motion. The motion was carried. The Ipswich Journal – Saturday, 16th November 1839
THE INAUGURATION DINNER
The Mayor, John May, in the evening, dined with a party of friends in the Council Chambers, of the Town Hall. On Friday, 15th November 1839, the landlord of the Kings Head gave a guarantee to provide for “forty” gentlemen, but the party was at a low ebb to reach forty for the occasion. But by Saturday morning it had become known that Mr. Thomas Milner Gibson, the “rejected” of Ipswich intended to honour the “jumpers, and shakers, and quakers, and independents, and Muggletonians, and the speakers of unknown tongues,” with his sublime presence, the numbers ran up to 130. The Ipswich Journal – Saturday, 16th November 1839
THE DREADED SCALES AND WEIGHTS
Early in the morning of Saturday, 21st December 1839, John May, as Mayor of Ipswich, went with his Town Sergeants, to the Provision Market to weigh the butter. A very invidious duty, but still a beneficial duty for which he was entitled to do with the thanks of the public. Policemen were already in place at the several outlets, to prevent the retreat of suspected delinquents. As John May arrived at the Provision Market, flanked with the Town Sergeants carrying the dreaded scales and weights, many of the dealers appeared instantly to be afflicted with a sort of malady, better known by the phase of “struck all on a heap.” Some dealers tried to conceal the deficient butter in their pockets, and some dealers tried to get away from the market, only to encounter the policemen at the gate. The Mayor received coarse remarks as butter belonging to upwards of ten dealers was confiscated! The confiscated butter was given to the poor. The Ipswich Journal – Saturday, 28th December 1839
John May throughout his year as Mayor of Ipswich, repeated his surprise visits to the Provision Market.
In November 1848, before concluding at his last Council meeting as Mayor of Ipswich for the second time, John May commended the Provision Market to the watchfulness of his successor – Mr. Charles Burton. It was an important duty that the Mayor had to discharge, to see that the public were note robbed in that market. He had visited it five times and had seized a considerable quantity of butter!!
He knew perfectly well that if the Mayor did not attend to that part of his duties, butter of short weight would be sent to the market. Suffolk Chronicle – Saturday, 11th November 1848
MONDAY, 10th FEBRUARY 1840 – A PUBLIC HOLIDAY
On the 7th February 1840, the Mayor, John May gave notice in the local newspaper that at the suggestion of a large number of inhabitants, and believing that such suggestion has the general concurrence of the town of Ipswich, John most respectfully requested, that during Monday, 10th February 1840, the day fixed for the solemnisation of the marriage of her Majesty Queen Victoria and Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, all business may be suspended, in order that the day may be observed throughout the town as a Public Holiday. Suffolk Chronicle –7th February 1840
TOWN HALL MEETING OF THE IPSWICH CHARTISTS
On Sunday, 9th February 1840, about 9 o’clock, the Mayor, John May received a Requisition that had been signed by Mr. James Mould, a parliamentary reporter, and Mr. Bird, a bricklayer. The requisition was for permission to use the Town Hall the following day for petitioning her Majesty to grant a free pardon to Frost, Williams, and Jones, and it was said that nothing whatever would be said to disrespectful to the Queen. The Mayor told Mr. Bird that he was not in the habit of transacting public business on Sundays, and therefore another time would be better. It was arranged that the Mayor would meet Mr. Bird on Monday, at Mr. Notcutt’s office, Mr. Mould was also to be present.
John May once again asked the gentlemen the nature of the meeting and its object, and both gentlemen stated it was a petition for a free pardon for the convicted men. They assured the Mayor that no other subject would be introduced, and there would be no language made use of to be disrespectful to her Majesty. The Mayor granted the Ipswich Chartists the use of the Town Hall, adding that there would be policemen ready to act if there was any disturbance. Suffolk Chronicle – Saturday, 15th February 1840
CELEBRATION OF HER MAJESTY’S MARRIAGE AT IPSWICH
On Monday, 10th February 1840, Her Majesty Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland married her maternal first cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. In Ipswich the morning was ushered in by the ringing of church bells and by the firing of canon. The Royal Union Jack was hoisted triumphantly from church steeples, and from her Majesty’s Custom House, and from the various shipping on the river. As the Mayor, John May requested the shops were closed. The poor of Ipswich were not forgotten, as a subscription amounting to £243. 1s. 6d., was appropriated to the purpose of beef, which was distributed among the poor.
A dinner in celebration of the marriage her Majesty the Queen for both political parties in Ipswich was unfeasible; so the Conservative’s dined at the Great White Horse, and the Liberal’s, with John May presiding dined at the New Assembly Rooms.
THE IPSWICH CHARTISTS
On the morning of the Sovereign’s marriage, the people of Ipswich out walking through the town were somewhat startled to find large placard upon the walls of the Cornhill and Town Hall. The placards headed “Welsh Patriots” were first thought to be some characters bizarre patriotic actions for the late deplorable excesses in South Wales. But on reading the placards, the pompous announcement was discovered, that his Worship the Mayor, John May had granted the Ipswich Chartists the use of the Town Hall, to petition the Crown for a free pardon on behalf of Chartists campaigners – John Frost, Zephaniah Williams, and William Jones, all found guilty of high treason for their part in the Newport Rising on the 3rd – 4th November 1839. There was loud public condemnation and disapproval that the Town Hall should be prostituted for such a purpose, and especially under the sanction to the Mayor. To call the three convicted men “patriots” was looked upon as a foul libel upon British loyalty, and an indelible stain upon the respectability of the town.
THE MAYOR’S EXPLANATION
While the Mayor and his friends were dining at the New Assembly Rooms, Mr. Donald McPherson and Mr. Robert Booley, ‘id genus omne,’ were engaged at the Town Hall in delivering orations declaratory of their convicted leaders, being sacrificed patriots! At the conclusion of their meeting the Ipswich Chartists expressed their gratitude towards the Mayor and unanimously passed a vote of thanks. When John May returned home after the dinner at the New Assembly Rooms, his son told him of the placards in the town headed “Welsh Patriots” and that the “Town Hall is to be used by the Ipswich Chartists with the Mayor’s permission.”
On Tuesday morning the Mayor of Ipswich, John May went straight to the police station and sent the police out in all directions to tear down the placards and in terms of no measured indignation the placards were denounced.
THE MAYOR’S EXPLANATION
On Thursday, 13th February 1840, the Mayor, John May, Mr. Benjamin Brame, Mr. John Carter, Mr. John Ridley, Mr. Frederick Seekamp, and Mr. Robert Gill Ranson assembled at the Town Hall. The Mayor felt there had been a great abuse of what he granted, and thought he had just reason to complain. He wanted his brother Magistrates to know, and the public to know all the circumstances of the case, and that he had acted in the proper manner. Mr. Benjamin Brame felt he would have undoubtedly acted the same as John May.
ST. GEORGE’S FAIR
On the 24th April 1840, the Mayor, John May gave notice in the local newspaper that the St. George’s Fair will be held on Tuesday, 5th May 1840, being the first Tuesday of the month. Suffolk Chronicle – 2nd May 1840
DURING HIS SECOND TERM OF OFFICE
On Tuesday, 9th November 1847, the quarterly meeting of the Town Council was held in the Council Chamber of the Town Hall. There was a full attendance of the Council, and the room was nearly filled by inhabitants of the town.
Mr. Jeremiah Head proposed Mr. John May, as a suitable and proper person to fill the office of Mayor for the town and Borough of Ipswich for the ensuing year. Mr. Woodruffe Daniel seconded the proposition. There being no other gentleman nominated, the question was put to the Council by the Ex-Mayor, Mr George Green Sampson, who then declared that Mr. John May, Esq. was duly elected Mayor.
The Mayor-elect returned thanks for the honour, he felt he was not only elected by the Council, but by the town at large! He therefore hoped that during his year of office, he should endeavour to the best of his humble judgement to discharge the duties of his office. John May having taken the accustomed oaths was invested in the robes of office.
Alderman George Josselyn rose to propose that the thanks of the Council be given to the late Mayor, George Sampson, for the zealous and efficient manner in which he had performed the duties attached to the office during the past year. Alderman Thomas D’Eye Burroughes seconded the motion. The motion was unanimously carried amid loud applause.
THE MAYOR, JOHN MAY’S SEVERE INDISPOSITION
On Wednesday, 15th December 1847, the Mayor, John May sent his apologies for not being able to attend the Ipswich Museum Dinner, held at the Town Hall, to celebrate the publicly opening of the Museum. The Bishop of Norwich, Edward Stanley presided over the opening.
For the next few months, John May was confined at home, due to his health, unable to attend to his mayoral duties, meetings or events.
John missed a meeting to consider a suitable spot for a park in the vicinity of the town. Due to his indisposition John was not able to attend a public meeting held at the Magistrates’ Room, of the Town Hall, on the 19th January 1848. Mr. John Chevallier Cobbold, M.P., presided at chair of the very well attended meeting to consider the propriety of selecting an eligible area for a public park or place of healthful outdoor recreation for all classes. Mr. Allen Ransome suggested what was thought to be an advantageous site, consisting of two fields in Upper Bolton, lying between the Henley Road and Mr. Fonnereau’s park. Both fields being in an airy situation, high and dry, with easy access for the population. Everyone at the Town Council warmly approved of the project, but there were many questions raised, and nothing definitive was agreed upon. A Committee was therefore appointed. The Ipswich Journal – Saturday, 22nd January 1848
John was not able to attend a meeting to hear the recommendation of a new fire engine for the police. At a special meeting of the Council held on Monday, 24th January 1848, at the Town Hall, the Mayor’s brother, Alderman William May stated that his brother John, the Mayor, very much regretted his inability to be present, owing to indisposition. Mr. Allen Ransome moved that Mr. William May should take the chair. Alderman Charles Pretyman seconded the motion. Alderman William May took the chair, and briefly introduced the subjects for discussion. The WATCH COMMITTEE presented a report to the Council, stating that from the 10th December 1847, the Watch Committee had raised the salary of the Superintendent of Police, William Carrington Mason, from 27s. to 35s. per week, they felt that William Mason was fully entitled to the addition from increased duties, and the efficient manner in which the duties were discharged. The Watch Committee also had under consideration the necessity of providing a more efficient fire engine for the police. The present one was nearly worn out and becoming quite useless. A new engine of sufficient power would cost £100. The Committee therefore requested the sanction of the Council for making this very necessary provision.
Mr. George Green Sampson in regard to the salary of the Superintendent of Police, felt William Mason was fully entitled to the raise, he being a most active, respectable, and efficient officer, with the most exemplary conduct. Mr. William Partridge Mills moved that the report be moved. Mr. Thomas Conder seconded the motion. The question was put and carried. The Ipswich Journal – Saturday, 29th January 1848
OUR NATIONAL DEFENCES
John was not well enough to attend a meeting on the national defences. Although unable to attend due to his indisposition, the Mayor of Ipswich, John May, gave his permission for a meeting to be held at the Town Hall, on Wednesday, 26th January 1848, in connection with the Peace Society. In the absence of the Mayor, his brother, Mr. William May was called to the chair. The purpose of the meeting was the “petitioning of the House of Commons, against any increase in the existing Naval and Military establishments of this country, the enrolment of the Militia, or the establishment of additional fortresses; and that steps may be taken to provide for the settlement by arbitrations of all disputes between the British and other Governments, without recourse to arms.”
JEWISH DISABILITIES’ BILL
Baron Lionel Nathan de Rothschild was a British Jew born 1808, in London, he was the eldest son of Nathan Rothschild, of the wealthy Rothschild family. In August 1847, Lionel Rothschild was first elected to the House of Commons in the Liberal interest, as one of the Members of the City of London with Mr. James Pattison, Esq., Mr. John Masterman, Esq., and The Right Hon. John Russell (commonly called Lord John Russell). But gentlemen of the Jewish faith were barred from sitting in the British House of Commons, due to a Christian Oath “and I make this Declaration upon the true Faith of a Christian,” which was required to be sworn on admission.
On trying to gain admission Baron Lionel Rothschild requested to be sworn in on the Old Testament, being the form which he declared at the table to be most binding on his conscience. He accordingly took the Oaths of Allegiance and Supremacy, and the Oath of Adjuration, but was not able to make a Christian Oath declaring the words “….and I make this Declaration upon the true Faith of a Christian.” Speaking to the Clerk, Baron Rothschild said “I omit these words as not binding on my conscience.” This prevented Baron Rothschild’s admission into the House of Commons.
Lord John Russell’s JEWISH DISABILITIES’ BILL moved that the house resolve itself into committee on the removal of the civil and political disabilities affecting her Majesty’s Jewish subjects. That every Englishman born was entitled to every honour and advantage which the British constitution held out, and that religious opinions ought not to be any obstacle to the enjoyment of those honours and those advantages. He appealed to the house to take away this last remnant of religious persecution. The first reading of the Bill was heard 16th December 1847.
IN IPSWICH – A public meeting for the inhabitants of Ipswich was held at 12 o’clock at the Town Hall, on Wednesday, 9th February 1848, to petition both Houses of Parliament, in favour of Lord John Russell’s Bill, that was now before the House of Commons, to remove the Civil Disabilities of the Jews. Mr. Charles Cowell presided over the chair, in the absence of the Mayor, John May, whose continued indisposition prevented his attendance. Mr. Charles Cowell said he had much pleasure in presiding over a meeting called for the present purpose, but it was a matter of regret to them all that they had not the presence of their excellent and worthy Mayor. Through a letter addressed to the Mr. Charles Cowell, John May desired him to express his deep regret that he was unable to attend, and also his concurrence in the objects of the meeting. He was in favour of a public meeting rather than a private meeting, and felt a public meeting called by public advertisement, would have much greater weight with the legislature and the country than anything of a private nature. John May was sure the people of Ipswich would give every gentleman a fair hearing, whether in favour of the resolutions or against them.
Mr. William Charles Fonnereau moved the first resolution as he felt deeply interested in the object of the meeting and felt it a great privilege and honour to assist towards the admission of Jews into an equal participation of the Legislature of this Country. Mr. R. Ransome seconded the resolution. The resolution was put and carried. A petition to both Houses of Parliament, in support of Lord John Russell’s Bill be put in course for signatures; and that the Earl of Stradbroke be requested to present the petition to the Lords and Members. “That they earnestly entreat your honourable House to pass the Bill introduced by Lord John Russell, and now under consideration, for the removal of those disabilities which deprive Jews, on account of their religion, on the enjoyment of full equal rights.” The Ipswich Journal – Saturday, 12th February 1848
The second reading was heard 7th February 1848, and so Lord John Russell’s Bill was approved by the House of Commons, and placed Christianity and Judaism upon the same footing within the walls of the lower house of Parliament. If Roman Catholics, Baptists, Quakers, and Unitarians, are qualified to assist in legislating for and governing a country, which numbers among its other established institutions a Protestant Established Church, there is not a shadow of a reason for keeping out the Jews.
The fear that England was becoming a Christ-denying people the Bill was regarded with uneasiness and suspicion and twice rejected by the House of Lords, as was a new Bill in 1851, and again in 1852. Until finally, the principal of civil and religious liberty won, and on the 23rd July 1858, the House of Lords passed the Jewish Relief Act (also known as the Jewish Disabilities Bill), which omitted the requirement for any person of the Jewish faith to take an oath declaring the words “….and I make this Declaration upon the true Faith of a Christian” in order to enter Parliament.
On the 26th July 1858, Baron Lionel Rothschild took his seat in the House. To commemorate this event, he endowed a scholarship in the City of London School.
THE MAYOR TO RESUME HIS OFFICIAL DUTIES
Towards the end of February 1848, John May was glad to be able to state that he had recovered from his recent severe indisposition and was now able to resume his official duties.
IPSWICH PAPER MILL BLAZE.
On the night of Monday, 1st May 1848, a most devastating fire broke out at the Ipswich Paper Mills, a large establishment in the heart of St. Clement’s parish. The first floor of the mill contained two exceedingly fine paper machines, bleaching and sizing rooms, boiling houses and two steam-engines, one of 40-horse power, the other of 20-horse power. The second floor housed a finishing room, with a large quantity of paper, a hydraulic press, bleaching room, and five paper engines, used for grinding the rags into pulp. The third floor was a rag loft, where the female employees cut the rags. The fourth and highest floor was storage for the rags. This rag chamber was packed full on the night of the fire.
At a quarter past midnight sparks were seen from the roof of the rag chamber, and in no time the whole roof of the rag chamber was in flames. Soon the whole of this mill was completely engulfed by the fire.
The St. Clement’s fire engine was the first to arrive, soon followed by Messrs. Ransome’s fire engine. Two other fire engines from the Suffolk Fire Office followed, under the orders of Mr. Harvey, the superintendent. Soon the barrack engine was in attendance drawn by the soldiers of the 16th Lancers, under the command of Major Gavin, along with two smaller engines from the Suffolk Fire Office and an engine from the parish of St. Mary Tower. But despite the presence of the fire engines, their services could not be made available, owing to the absence of any water plugs in the vicinity. The fire was raging with such fierceness over the Paper Mill’s well that it was impossible to get near. It was a deplorable dilemma, so the barrack engine was wheeled on to the Quay, and by means of a united hose, water was at length drawn from the Dock, carried up Wherry Lane, across Fore Street, up Angel Lane, and finally thrown on to the raging fire. The public helped by filling the St. Clement’s and St. Mary Tower engines with buckets of water from private homes.
Crowds of thousands filled the adjacent streets. The Mayor of Ipswich, John May arrived with several of the Magistrates, and many of the principal inhabitants, including the Messrs. Ransome.
The fire continued uninterrupted towards the front of the premises, first to the counting house, which was also the home of Mr. Durrant, the manager of the works. Long scaffold poles were used to tear down roof but to no avail and the fire continued along the front houses in both directions. The cottage adjoining the mill buildings, occupied by Mr. Garnham, a seedsman, was soon burnt down, and the next house, the home of Mr. Salmon was threatened with a similar fate, when the commanding officer of the military recommended that Mr. Salmon’s house be blown up. The Mayor, John May feared the consequences and strongly objected, he instead ordered the house to be pulled down with rapidity. The upper part of the house was dragged away by chains and a scaffold pole was converted into a battering ram and helped by the crowds was impelled with force that the remaining parts of the house came tumbling down. Two other cottages tenanted by Mr. Fuller, a journeyman painter, and Mr. Giles, a sailor was also pulled down. Thankfully this bold move had the desired effect.
By five in the morning, the flames from the building were completely subdued, and the fire engines concentrated upon the heaps of rubbish, from which flames still burst through. Throughout the day and the following night, two engines were kept at work. The remains of the Ipswich Paper Mills premises were a painful scene of desolation and ruin.
The Ipswich Paper Mills had offered employment to 30 men and boys, and to 180 women and children, who were now without employment and would cause a serious demand upon the poor-rates of St. Clement’s parish. The Suffolk Chronicle – Saturday, 6th May 1848
THE IPSWICH PAPER MILLS DIRECTOR’S NOTICE OF THANKS
The Directors of the Ipswich Paper Mills Company submitted to the local newspapers a notice to offer their sincere thanks and acknowledgements to the Mayor, John May, the Officers, non-commissioned Officers, and Privates, of the 16th Lancers, their friends, and the public at large, for the prompt, active, and efficient assistance rendered by them at the calamitous Fire. Suffolk Chronicle – Saturday, 6th May 1848
COMPENSATION FOR HOUSES PULLED DOWN BY THE ORDER OF THE MAYOR AT THE IPSWICH PAPER MILLS
At the quarterly meeting of the Council held on the 30th August 1848, Mr. Thomas Baldock Ross introduced the question as to the propriety of remunerating those people whose houses were pulled down at the fire at the Ipswich Paper Mill by orders of the Mayor, John May. After a short discussion, the subject was adjourned.
At the quarterly meeting of the Council on the 31st January 1849, Mr. Ross reminded the Council of a notice of motion which he had given, that some compensation be made to the parties whose houses were pulled down at the fire. One house and three cottages were destroyed, under the direction of the late Mayor, John May, which was agreeably to the advice of Major Gavin, this action considered necessary to save a large portion of the town from destruction. It had been thought that the Corporation had the right to make good the damage. But Counsel’s opinion was that the Corporation were not liable. Mr. Thomas Ross told the Council that they were poor people, so poor, that some of them were now receiving parochial relief. The loss had amounted to £120. Though at law they had no remedy, yet in justice he thought the Corporation bound to do something in their behalf. He would leave the matter in the hands of the Council. Mr. Webster Adams thought this was a very hard case indeed, the property of the parties having been destroyed to save that of other people in the neighbourhood. Mr. Nathaniel Whimper suggested the appointment of a committee.
A committee was appointed to enquire and report to the Council. The Ipswich Journal – Saturday, 3rd February 1848.
SUFFOLK SUMMER ASSIZE
On Monday, 31st July 1848, at 5 o’clock, the Right Honourable Sir James Parke, was met on the Whitton Road, opposite Brooks Hall, by the High Sheriff, the Right Honourable Lord Huntingfield, attended by his Chaplain, the Reverend Henry Owen, Rector of Heveningham, the Undersheriff, John Crabtree, Esq. The High Sheriff’s equipage consisted of a coach-and-four, the postilions wearing scarlet jackets. The liveries of the javelin men were drab, faced with red and were furnished by the Messrs. Jonathan Corbyn, draper and tailor, of Halesworth. At half-past five, the cortege arrived at the County Courts, when the commission was opened.
After his Lordship had retired to his lodging at the New Assembly Rooms, the Mayor of Ipswich, John May, attended by his Mace Bearers, were received with the usual official ceremonies. In the evening the distinguished party dined at Shrubland Hall, the hospitable mansion home of Sir William Fowle Fowle Middleton.
On Tuesday morning, their Lordships attended Divine Service at St. Mary -le-Tower Church. The learned Judge, Sir William Henry Maule, attended having arrived from Norwich late at night. The Mayor, John May, Mr. Thomas D’Eye Burroughes, Mr. Richard Porter, and 15 members of the Town Council, with the Mace Bearers and the Ipswich Regalia joined the full morning service. Owing to the heavy rain, the congregation was not so numerous as on other occasions.
The Crown Court was opened at half-past twelve, with Sir William F.F. Middleton, appointed as Foreman of the Grand Jury with 22 other gentlemen. The Ipswich Journal – Saturday, 5th August 1848.
DEATH OF SIR ROBERT HARLAND, BARONET.
The quarterly meeting of the Council was held on Wednesday, 30th August 1848, in the Council Chamber of the Town Hall. John May, as Mayor of Ipswich presided in the chair. John announced to the Council that since their last meeting Sir Robert Harland, Baronet, had died at his residence at Wherstead Park, on the 16th August 1848, aged 83 years. Though they had long lost his services as their High Steward, for under the New Municipal Act there was no officer of the kind appointed, yet as a Council they could not but express their sense of deep regret at the loss which the town of Ipswich had sustained, and which Lady Arethusa Harland had sustained. Suffolk Chronicle – Saturday, 2nd September 1848.
THE TOWN HALL WAS NOT BUILT FOR THE PURPOSE OF PARTY.
The annual meeting of the Town Council was held on Thursday, 9th November 1848, in the Council Chamber of the Town Hall. It was the last duty for John May as Mayor of Ipswich to call upon the gathered gentlemen of the Council to nominate a gentleman best qualified to fill the office of Mayor for the ensuing year. The resolution was put and carried unanimously for Mr. Charles Burton to be Mayor of the people of Ipswich. Mr. James Allen Ransome proposed a vote of thanks to John May, as the late Mayor, and Alderman Thomas D’Eye Burroughes seconded the motion. Thomas continued that the late Mayor entitled him, he thought, to their warmest acknowledgements on the way John May had conducted himself during the past year, especially at one particular time, when they all had reason to suppose that Chartist disturbances which had taken place in other parts of the country, would likewise take place here in Ipswich. The Ex-Mayor, John May returned thanks to Thomas Burroughes, then went into details of his refusal to grant the use of the Town Hall for a Chartist meeting earlier in the year.
He thought then, and still thought, and should ever act upon it, that that hall was not built for the purpose of party; that no section or party had any rights to hold political meetings in that hall. He acted upon that and refused the use of the hall. Had he been applied to by the Whigs or Tories – Conservatives, he begged pardon – he should have acted precisely as he did in reference to the Chartists, because it struck him that the Town Hall was built for Corporation purposes. He knew that the hall had been used and had been granted by his predecessors for holding religious meetings, and he followed those gentlemen by allowing it to be used for similar purposes. But during his early part of his Mayoralty, two or three disturbances had taken place. On that account he had ever since refused to allow the use of the Town Hall even for religious purposes. Suffolk Chronicle – Saturday, 11th November 1848
Image courtesy of Mr. A. Gilbert – Ipswich Borough Council.
www.ancestry.co.uk used for census returns, births, marriages, deaths, probates, military records and other historical online records.
Members of the Council – in and since 1835 – Mr. B.P. Grimsey – July 1892.