May Road - origin of name | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

May Road - origin of name

I've been asked recently about May Road.  I'd assumed that it was named after FH May, Governor 1912-19 ... and at Gen Suzuki gives us the Wikipedia entry for it which say so.  

But ... it was started in 1907 and the person who signed the announcement of its naming in the Government Gazette was none other than then Colonial Secretary F H May - see

Sure, May's a bit of a hero of mine, but I am willing to acknowledge his faults.  However, such blatant self-aggrandisement wasn't one of them, nor would he have got away with such either from the Colonial Office or the HK Press.  

So I start to assume that the road was named after Charles May, long time Police Magistrate etc.  But a hunt through all the relevant records I can lay my hands on at the moment hasn't yielded confirmation of that.  Has anyone any ideas, please?


The China Mail from 1907-04-13:

May Road: A new road from Magazine Gap Road to the Peak Road near Queen's Gardens has been named May Road. It is not yet open to traffic.

I know that doesn't really help, but it narrows the period of assigning the name.

According to Wikipedia, F.H. May was already "Officer Administering the Government" from 21 November 1903 to  29 July 1904 before Sir Matthew Nathan took over from 29 July 1904 to 20 April 1907. During his (Nathan's) government the decision could have been taken to name the new road after the former administrator.

Writing in Old Hongkong in the mid-1930s, Jarrett says:

[...] That was Sir Henry May, one of the most interesting personalities the Colony has ever had in an administrative post, after whom was named May Road, while the Helena May Institute commemorates his wife. [...]

Given that the road-naming was still within living memory then, that's a good confirmation.

Do we have any other examples of roads being named after a serving member of the adminitstration - ok, with an 'acting governor' stint under his belt, but (in May's case) only 6 years since his promotion from CSP?

I am a grand-daughter of F H May.  My mother (who lived there until she was 20) always said that the road was named after him.  When I first went to Hong Kong in 1966,  May Road was certainly on the list of ancestral visits I had to make, along with Barker Road named after Helena's father.   But the dating is interesting - I had not known that. 

Perhaps it is possible that May Road was in fact named after Charles May, the first Captain Superintendent of Police (28.2.1845 -3.5.1862), later Police Magistrate and acting Colonial Secretary. His predecessor, William Caine, who was Chief Magistrate (9.5.1841 - February 1844) and later Lieutenant-Governor, was probably the first Hong Kong Government official to have a road named after him.

Francis Henry May was himself Captain Superintendent of Police (17.2.1893-5.9.1901) prior to his appointment as Colonial Secretary and later as Governor, becoming the only person to hold all three posts.