Francis Henry May

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Sir Francis Henry May
Francis Henry May.gif
8th High Commissioner for the Western Pacific
In office
21 February 1911 – 25 July 1912
Monarch George V
Preceded by Sir Everard im Thurn
Succeeded by Sir Ernest Sweet-Escott
9th Governor of Fiji
In office
21 February 1911 – 25 July 1912
Preceded by Sir Everard im Thurn
Succeeded by Sir Ernest Sweet-Escott
15th Governor of Hong Kong
In office
24 July 1912 – 30 September 1919
Preceded by Frederick John Dealtry Lugard, 1st Baron Lugard
Succeeded by Sir Reginald Stubbs
Personal details
Born (1860-03-14)14 March 1860
Dublin, Ireland
Died 6 February 1922(1922-02-06) (aged 61)
Suffolk, England
Spouse(s) Helena Barker
Children 4 daughters
Alma mater Trinity College, Dublin
Profession colonial administrator

Sir Francis Henry May, GCMG (Chinese Translated Name: 梅含理) (1860–1922) was a British colonial administrator who was Governor of Fiji from 1911 to 1912, and Governor of Hong Kong from 1912 to 1919.

Early life and education[edit]

May was born in Dublin, Ireland on 14 March 1860. He was the 4th son of Rt. Hon. George Augustus Chichester May, Lord Chief-Justice of Ireland. May was educated at Harrow School and Trinity College, Dublin, where a few of his predecessors to the Governorship of Hong Kong attended school. May received the 1st Honourman and Prizeman Classics and Modern Languages and B.A. in 1881.


In 1881, May was appointed to a Hong Kong Cadetship after a competitive examination. In 1886, he became the Assistant Protector of Chinese and private secretary to Governor Sir William Des Vœux. He was also the private secretary to Acting Administrator Digby Barker from 1889 to 1891.[1]

May would hold the office of Assistant Colonial Secretary in 1891 and Acting Colonial Treasurer in 1892. He was made a member of the Legislative Council in 1895.

From 1893 to 1901, May was the Captain Superintendent of the Hong Kong Police Force, and Superintendent of Victoria Gaol and Fire Brigade between 1896 and 1902.[1][2]

He was appointed to the position of Colonial Secretary for Hong Kong in April 1902,[3] serving until 21 January 1911,[4] and as such was appointed acting administrator of Hong Kong in 1903, 1904, 1906, 1907, and 1910.[1] In 1911, May was appointed Governor of Fiji and High Commissioner Western Pacific, a position he would hold until 1912.

Governor of Hong Kong[edit]

In 1912, May was appointed Governor of Hong Kong, a position he occupied in his own right until 1919. It was also his last post in the Colonial Service.

May was the only Hong Kong Governor to be the target of an assassination attempt. He was fired upon near the General Post Office as he rode in a sedan chair after arriving from Fiji in July 1912. May was not injured; the bullet lodged in the sedan of his wife. The gunman, Li Hung Hung, had a grudge against May. Several years before, this former Police Superintendent had imprisoned Li's father, an undesirable mainland immigrant.[5] May used a car for daily transport from then onwards.[1]

On 22 January 1918, May personally negotiated with the remaining member of a gang holed up in the "Siege of Gresson Street", following a running gun battle through the streets of Wanchai in which five police officers were killed.[2]

In 1919, May was allowed to retire, due to ill health.[1]


May married Helena Barker in 1891. She was the daughter of Acting Administrator Major-General Digby Barker.[1] They had four daughters, Stella, Phoebe, Dionne and Iris.

He died at Clare Priory, Suffolk, England. He is buried at Clare.



  • "Guide to Cantonese Colloquial"
  • "Yachting In Hong-Kong"

Places named after him[edit]

May Road, a roadway in the Upper Mid-Levels area in Hong Kong Island, and May Hall of the University of Hong Kong[6] were named after him. Also, the Helena May Foundation was named after his wife.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Yanne, Andrew; Heller, Gillis (2009). Signs of a Colonial Era. Hong Kong University Press. pp. 62–63. ISBN 978-962-209-944-9. 
  2. ^ a b Grandsons of siege victim visit Force, HK Police 'Offbeat', Issue 795, 23 March 2005
  3. ^ The London Gazette: no. 27423. p. 2334. 8 April 1902.
  4. ^ Clementi, Cecil (1912). "General Observations" (PDF). Hong Kong Annual Report (1911). p. 24. Retrieved 5 October 2014. 
  5. ^ Eric Cavaliero, Pedder Street was where it all happened, The Standard, 13 August 1998
  6. ^ The First Students' Hostels of The University of Hong Kong
Police appointments
Preceded by
Alexander Gordon[disambiguation needed]
Captain-Superintendent of Police
Succeeded by
Joseph Badeley
Government offices
Preceded by
James Haldane Stewart Lockhart
Colonial Secretary of Hong Kong
Succeeded by
Sir Warren Delabere Barnes
Preceded by
Sir Henry Arthur Blake
Governor of Hong Kong (Administrator)
Succeeded by
Sir Matthew Nathan
Preceded by
Sir Everard F. im Thurn
High Commissioner for the Western Pacific
Succeeded by
Sir Ernest Bickham Sweet-Escott
Governor of Fiji
Preceded by
Acting Administrator Claud Severn
15th Governor of Hong Kong
Succeeded by
Acting Administrator Claud Severn