Thomas May was third child of Elizabeth Agent & John May christened July 31st, 1808 at Cowden, Kent.
Thomas married Mary Hart on May 19th, 1831 at Mid Lavant, Sussex. Mary was christened May 1st, 1796 at Sidlesham, Sussex, the daughter of Elizabeth & John Hart.
In 1841 Thomas & Mary were living at Holt Lane, Madehurst, Sussex where Thomas was a game keeper. They had 3 children – George (10), Charles (6) & Arthur (4).
They were still living at Holt House, Holt Lane in 1851 & Thomas was still a game keeper. Son George, an excise officer, was still at home, as was Charles who was an underkeeper. Son Arthur was visiting Maria Leggett, a 53 year old school mistress in Orchard St, Subdeanery, Chichester & was described as a cabinet maker’s apprentice.
It is known from a newspaper article that quotes Thomas as gamekeeper to the Earl of Durham at Lambton Park that he had moved north to Co Durham by February 1863.
Mary died in 1865 & was buried on September 1st at Chester-le-Street, aged 68. She was described as being of Lambton Park.
The children of Thomas May & Mary Hart were:
m.3.1 George May christened June 19th, 1831 at Mid Lavant, Sussex
m.3.2 Charles May christened October 26th, 1834 at Mid Lavant, Sussex; died January 1st, 1913 at Garden Cottages, Fatfield Park, Fence Houses, Co. Durham
m.3.3 Arthur May christened May 21st, 1837 at Madehurst, Sussex; died November 13th, 1908 at 28 Cranbrook Park, Woodgreen, Middlesex
Thomas married Esther Julien on March 1st, 1870 at Bournmoor, Chester-le Street. Esther was born c1829 in France.
In 1871 Thomas & Esther were living at Lambton Kennels, Chester-le-Street where Thomas was head keeper in charge of 4 men. Son Charles from Thomas’ first marriage was still living with him & was a game keeper. They had a 17 year old general servant, Jane Anderson.
Thomas was still employed as a game keeper in 1881 & he & Esther were still living at Lambton Kennels. Also living at Lambton Kennels but in a separate dwelling was son Charles, now married to Elizabeth & they had a 1 year old son. Charles was the game keeper’s assistant.
An article in the Sunderland Daily Echo & Shipping Gazette of September 20th, 1883 reports on a gun accident just outside of Chester-le-Street. While Thomas & son Charles were out shooting rabbits, a gun carried by Mr Charles Mays accidentally went off & struck a man named Charles Rice in the neck, chest & face, as well as part of the charge lodging in Charles’ shoulder. Mr Rice was badly hurt but Charles’ injuries were not as serious although he was suffering from shock.
Thomas died at the age of 78 on March 30th, 1887 & was buried on April 2nd at the church of St Mary & St Cuthbert at Chester-le-Street. At the proving of his will on May 12th, 1887, Thomas was described as formerly of Lambton Park but late of Chester-le-Street. His will was proved at Durham by son Charles Mays of Lambton Park Colliery, clerk & his personal estate amounted to £5,221.10s.3d, resworn in July 1887 as £5,453.10s.3d.
Esther could not be found in the 1891 census but there is a record of Esther L Mays, a 72 year old widow, as a patient at Woodside Home, Finchley, London in 1901. She had been born in France (Beril?) & her disability was given as ‘rheumatics’.
Son Charles & his wife Elizabeth & their 3 children were living at
Gardeners Cottages, Harraton, Chester-le-Street in 1891, & Charles was
a colliery store keeper. In 1901 they were still at Harraton, their address
being given as Lambton Park & Charles was now living on his own means.