The MAY Family of Sussex
a short time at the end of the 16th and beginning of the 17th centuries
the family of May owned Mayfield Palace, which had been a residence of the
great Elizabeth merchant prince, Sir Thomas Gresham, and once the palace
of the Archbishops of Canterbury.
in 1595 was born Thomas May, a poet and
historian, much in favour at the Court of King Charles I. He wrote three
tragedies and two comedies, praised in his day, but now apparently
forgotten. When the Civil War broke out he left Court and became secretary
to parliament and wrote a History of
the Long Parliament. He died in 1650 and was given a public funeral by
parliament and burial in Westminster Abbey, where a monument was erected
in his memory. After the Restoration, however, his body like many other
parliamentarian, was dug up and thrown into a common grave in St.
Margaret's churchyard, and his memorial destroyed.
May of Wadhurst, who lived during the 15th century as near as I can
estimate, had two grandsons, Thomas and William and with them the family
split into two branches. Thomas's descendants continued to live in East
Sussex at Ticehurst, Burwash, Mayfield and Pashley. Anthony May of the
latter place was High Sheriff of Sussex in 1629.
May's son, Richard, a citizen and merchant tailor of London, died in 1588.
He had four sons, the third being Sir Humphrey
May, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster in 1618 and a Privy
Councillor. He died in 1630. The fourth son, John, is shown in William
Berry's Sussex Genealogies to have lived at Rawmere. This place is the
present Raughmere, just south of the Lavants. John May's eldest son,
Thomas, was captain of a troop of horse for the Rape of Chichester; the
second was a Groom of the Chamber to King Charles I. One of John May's
grandsons, Sir Thomas May, who died in 1718, was Recorder of Chichester,
and a Baron of the Exchequer.
arms of May are blazoned: Gules, a fess between eight billets or.
billet is an oblong, usually shown with the two longer sides vertical.
Arms strewn with a number of small billets are blazoned 'billetty'. John
Guillim states that the shield should be so described if there are more
than 10 billets, but there are examples of shields containing up to 20
billets before they are termed billetty.
Akin to billets are delves, gads, dice and blocks. Delves are sometimes defined as squares of turf, while blocks are said to be wider than billets. Gads are variously described as spikes, bosses on the knuckles of gauntlets, a wedge-shaped bar of steel or a steel plate.
from 'Arms of Sussex Families' by J.F. Huxford (1982)
|© David Nash Ford 2001. All Rights Reserved.