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Biographical entry May, Joseph (1808 - 1904)

MRCS April 25th 1830; FRCS (by election) Feb 18th 1860; LSA 1830; JP.

10 April 1904
General surgeon


Born at Devonport in 1808 and served his apprenticeship with a local surgeon, Tripp. He studied at St Bartholomew's Hospital, at the Aldersgate Street School of Medicine, and in Paris. In 1831 he volunteered for the Polish Army, then at war with Russia, was appointed Chief Surgeon to the Nyazdowa Hospital and was present with the army at the Siege of Warsaw. On the town's surrender he was awarded the Cross of the Polish Order of St Stanislaus. In 1832, settling in practice at Devonport, he was appointed Surgeon to the Devonport and Stonehouse Public Dispensary, which in due course became the Royal Albert Hospital.

For many years May was an Alderman and was four times Mayor. He was for twenty years on the School Board, and for twelve years acted as Chairman. He was also Vice-Chairman of the Devonport Girls' High School. In 1876, on the occasion of the opening of the Plymouth, Devonport and South-Western Junction Railway, he was presented with a set of candelabra and his portrait in oils, as a token of recognition by his fellow-townsmen. In 1899 he received the freedom of the Borough of Devonport.

He died at 1 Nelson Gardens, Stoke, Devonport, on April 10th, 1904, being survived by his widow, three daughters, and two sons; one son was the Medical Officer of Health for Devonport, the other Colonel W Allan May, CB, DSO, RAMC. He bequeathed valuable oil paintings to the Devonport Free Public Library and the candelabra to his son, Colonel May, in reversion to the Borough.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Lancet, 1904, 1, 1089].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England