Scholastic Rider; Sporty Ruler
Sir Francis Henry May, was a jockey, owner, historian and a colonial administrator,
1912-07-24 to 1919-09-30, Sir Francis became the 15th Governor and the leader of the Boy Scouts Association of Hong Kong.
1860-03-14 Henry May was born in Dublin, Ireland.
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.
Francis Henry May was a promising Government cadet.
He was a member of HKJC from its early years.
There he soon became known as a capable rider and a dependable marksman.
He was also a Starter in Happy Valley races.
1887-02-23 Henry May is first mentioned in the available records as a jockey.
At the Annual Race Meeting, riding Mr J. D. Humphreys’ VEXATION at 11 st. 1 lb., Henry May broke his leg: it was jammed against the rail.
The China Mail in reporting the incident said that Mr May, who was then Assistant Colonial Secretary,:
“was not able to rein in his horse and was carried round the course; but on coming opposite the stables he called out to the mafoo, ‘I have broken my leg.’
The mafoo rushed forward and caught the horse, but could not prevent the animal from throwing off his master,
although he succeeded in lessening the shock.”
Mr May is said to have suffered a compound fracture.
Soon after his recovery of his fall in a race, he was sent to Peking as a “student interpreter” to learn the Chinese language.
On his return from Peking, Henry May continued his position of Assistant Colonial Secretary.
Mr May owned one or two ponies and personally supervised their training, riding them himself.
May married Helena Barke, who was the daughter of Acting Administrator Major-General Digby Barker.
They had four daughters.
1892-03-25《Hong Kong Daily Press》an advertisement announcing:
“Entries for the Sky Race Meeting close to-morrow. Forms of entry can be had on application to F. H. May, Hong Kong Club.”
The dictionaries of archaic terms are silent upon the term “Sky Race Meeting”. It appears to mean simply an informal Meeting.
Mr F. H. May, fresh from the invigorating air of Peking, seems to have played a leading part in the movement for more racing.
He became the Captain Superintendent of Police (as the Commissioner was then known)
He became the Colonial Secretary.
He had two ponies, named BLUE SKIN and YELLOW SKIN.
He had a stable in partnership with Mr M. W. Slade, who was a barrister.
He was on his own again. His pony ASTRAL won the Professional Cup.
May was allowed to retire, due to ill health.
1922-02-06 Sir Francis passed away in Suffolk, England. He is buried at Clare.
Sir Henry compiled the first definitive history of the Club under the title Notes on Pony and Horse Racing in Hong Kong, 1845-1887.
He never lost his love of racing, and remained a frequent spectator at Happy Valley, where even though no longer competing himself, in deference to his elevated status.
Sir Henry occasionally acted as starter.
Sir Henry lived in Hong Kong for 38 years totally. the longest among all the governors.
Places named after him:
May Road, a roadway in the Upper Mid-Levels area in Hong Kong Island
May Hall of the University of Hong Kong were named after him.
Also, the Helena May Foundation was named after his wife.