MFH Home
  Family Trees
  Related Families
  Odds & Ends
  Mail David


The Coat of Arms
of the MAY Family

The Coat of Arms used by the MAY family is described in heraldic terms as:

Gules, a fesse between eight billets or.
with a crest,

Out of ducal coronet or, a leopard's head proper.
and the motto,
Fortis et Fidelis
Strong and Faithful"

These arms appear to have first been used by Thomas MAY of Faunt in Sussex during the time of King Edward IV (in the late 15th century). The well-known MAY family of Sussex and Kent, therefore, have the right to bear these arms; as do their male line descendants, the MAYs of North-East Hampshire & Mid-Berkshire amongst them. Later variants on these arms have also been granted to other, apparently unrelated, families bearing the name of MAY. The arms have been displayed by the Hampshire & Berkshire MAYs in a number of places over the centuries:

  • The SCLATER family, including the present Lord BASING, quarter the arms of MAY with their own as descendants of Elizabeth MAY (b. 1683) eldest daughter and heiress of John MAY (1652-1722) of Worting.
  • Emma Elizabeth THOYTS (1860-1949) recorded that her ancestor, Charles MAY (1670-1714) of Basingstoke used these arm.
  • Thomas Buckeridge NOYES (1732-1795) of Reading, son of Mary eldest daughter and heiress of Charles MAY (1670-1714) of Basingstoke, quartered the arms of MAY with his own upon his funerary hatchment, now lost, but once displayed in St. Mary's Church in Reading.
  • A snuff-box, engraved with the May family crest and once belonging to Daniel MAY (d.1740) of Burghfield, is still in the possession of his collateral descendant, Lynne White of Somerset.
  • Mary Anne MAY (1848-1931) recorded that, after the death of Jane Wickham in 1917, most of the family possessions were sold off, including a great quantity of her great grandfather Thomas MAY (1737-1800) of Brimpton's plate, all marked with the May crest.
  • Mary Anne MAY (1848-1931) records at the same sale,  the old May silver, all marked with the crest, including a set of four 1746 salt cellars which had belonged to her great great grandfather James MAY (1700-1774) of Long Sutton.
  • Mary Anne MAY (1848-1931) possessed a number of books which had belonged to her great grandfather, Thomas MAY (1737-1800) of Brimpton, featuring bookplates of the family arms.
  • William Blackall SIMONDS (1761-1834) of Reading displayed the SIMONDS arms impaling, a rather corrupt version, of his wife Elizabeth MAY (1763-1842)'s arms along the borders of Thomas Pride's Map of Reading (1790) to which he was a subscriber.
  • Jane MAY (1766-1836) and her husband, Revd. John Symonds Breedon (1755-1826) of Bere Court, both displayed the MAY arms on their funerary hatchments, impaling the arms of BREEDON. These can still be seen in St. James' Church, Pangbourne.
  • The MAY Brewery used the MAY arms as its corporate symbol throughout the 18th, 19th & 20th centuries.
  • Lieut-Col John MAY (1837-1920) displays the family arms upon the cover of his biography.
  • Eighteenth Century silver spoons bearing the leopard's head crest are still in the possession of the descendants of Morgan MAY (1818-1902) of May Township, Minnesota, USA

    David Nash Ford 2001. All Rights Reserved.