Thomas May was born about 1802 in England, son of convict James May of Croydon, Surrey, and his wife Grace. He arrived to Australia as an infant in 1804 with his mother, on board the ship Experiment.
On 26 May 1823, at Sydney, he married Rebecca Mealmaker, and may have remarried after her death in 1855. Rebecca Mealmaker was the daughter of George Mealmaker who was involved in the Rum Rebellion and died in 1808 in suspicious circumstances.
Thomas May died at Manly on 7 January 1873, aged 69. He was buried with his daughter Eliza Rebecca (died 1874, aged 42) in the Church of England section of Rookwood Cemetery.
Occupation & interests
Thomas May arrived to Sydney as an infant in 1804 with his mother Grace on the Experiment. His father James May was convicted for life and reached Sydney on 7 May 1804 on the Coromandel.
Like his father, Thomas May became a wheelwright and by 1824 had been assigned a convict servant. From 1832 to at least 1845, he was licensee of the Sportsman’s Inn in Parramatta Street. By 1844, he also had a butchery business at the same address. In the 1841 census, his residence address was Adelaide Park in Petersham. In 1857, he served as the guarantor for Frederick Oatley for the position of Inspector of Slaughter Houses. He became a property developer with land at Blackwattle Bay (where he set up five slaughter houses) and on Parramatta Road. He was one of the first purchasers of land at the Government Domain at Parramatta in 1859 and is the namesake for the suburb of Mays Hill. His residence in later life was Park Lodge, Parramatta. May was a sportsman with an interest in pigeon shooting and the Homebush and Petersham Races.
Local government service
Thomas May was Councillor for Phillip Ward, 1 November 1846 to 31 October 1850.
Australian National Gallery News Volume 1, 1891
City of Sydney Archives: Aldermen’s Files
Fitzgerald, Shirley & Golder, Hilary 1994, Pyrmont & Ultimo: Under Seige, Hale & Iremonger