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Dr. George May
from the Berkshire Bell and Counties Review,
July 1884

Born: 2nd January 1799 & Died: 8th May 1884

Few names are better known in Reading than that of the late Dr. May, as he was popularly styled; and few individuals are more entitled to a place in this series. The relief of suffering humanity is of itself an ennobling pursuit; but when this is supplemented by other qualities, inherent in the subject, the whole tends to assist the development of a worthy existence. Such, practically, is the life-record of Mr. George May, whose death created such a profound sensation, and called forth an unwonted expression of public sympathy. Mr. May was not a native of Reading, but he took up his residence in the town in 1822 - being then in his twenty-third year - and has since continued to be one of its most interested burgesses. Shortly after his arrival, he was appointed surgeon to the Reading Dispensary, and was elected a member of the first reformed Corporation of the Borough in 1835. In 1839, on the establishment of the Royal Berks Hospital, Mr. May was appointed to a post on its first medical staff, with which, be it noted, he was associated till the day of his death. In 1845, he actively supported a scheme for the more effective drainage of the town and though the proposal met with much opposition at that time, its most salient points were ultimately adopted. Indeed, Mr. May was always interested in sanitary questions being rightly of opinion that defective sanitation was the source from which spring many more or less minor ills; and it is said he viewed with pleasurable feelings the inception of the new drainage system, which has done so much to improve sanitary condition of the town.

His name has become associated with several local institutions - notably, the Reading Volunteer Corps, to which he acted as medical officer from the time' of its enrolment; and St. Giles' Church of which he was a warden for many years, being also one of the earliest members of the church board founded by Mr. Fosbery for the purpose of efficiently dealing with questions affecting the financial and general welfare of the parish. He was a liberal supporter of the church and school funds; but had a healthy objection to contributing towards the “clearing off of old scores,” believing as he did that churches should set an example in all their business affairs. Shrewd and thrifty, his advice proved acceptable on many occasions, and though he was by no means of an arrogant disposition, his views were generally conceded to be sound and practical. He came to Reading with little beyond his good name - the late Mr. Weedon and he being the joint possessors of less than half-a-crown! - and attained his subsequent high position solely by reason of his skill and integrity.

    © David Nash Ford 2001. All Rights Reserved.