MAY, Sir Algernon (c.1625-1704), of Old Windsor, Berks. and Ampton, Suff.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer



23 May 1689

Family and Education

b. c.1625, 5th s. of Sir Humphrey May of Carrow Priory, Norf., chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster 1618-30, by 2nd w. Judith, da. of Sir William Poley of Boxted, Suff., bro. of Baptist May. m. 15 June 1662, Dorothy, da. of James Reynolds of Castle Camps, Cambs. and h. to her bro. John Reynolds, wid. of Sir James Calthorpe of Cockthorpe, Norf., 1s. 1da. Kntd. by 1662.1

Offices Held

Equerry to Queen Catherine of Braganza 1662-8; keeper of the records 1670-?86.2

J.p. Suff. 1663-87; commr. for assessment, Suff. 1663-4, 1673-4, Berks. 1677-80, Berks. and New Windsor 1690; dep. lt. Suff. by 1671-85; freeman, New Windsor 1689.3


May came from a cadet branch of a Sussex family. His grandfather, a Merchant Taylor, bought the manor of Rawmere in 1581. His father, a younger son, sat in all the early Stuart Parliaments, and his uncle Hugh (father of Richard May) established the family connexion with the Windsor area. Details of May’s early career and the date and circumstances of his knighthood are lacking. He is first heard of as equerry to the Queen, whom he entertained at his lodge near Windsor in 1675, but he tended to be eclipsed at Court by his brother. A fortunate marriage to the sister of a distinguished Cromwellian soldier brought him the Suffolk manor of Ampton, as well as lands in Ireland. He succeeded William Prynne as keeper of the records in the Tower with a salary of £500 p.a., although the post had been promised to Gervase Holles, whose Cavalier and Anglican sympathies were out of vogue. But he was himself replaced by the Tory Robert Brady under James II, and removed from the commission of the peace.4

May stood for Windsor, where his brother was keeper of the great park, at the general election of 1689. On his petition the election of Sir Christopher Wren was declared void, and he was returned on the corporation franchise at a contested by-election. He was granted a pension in July as compensation for loss of office as keeper of the records. An inactive Member of the Convention, he was appointed to only six committees, including those for the inquiry into the miscarriages of war, for securing Irish Protestants and for restoring corporations. He supported the disabling clause and was among those ordered to consider a bill enforcing a general oath of allegiance. He died at Ampton on 25 July 1704. None of his descendants entered Parliament.5

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Authors: Leonard Naylor / Geoffrey Jaggar


  • 1. Vis. Norf. (Norf. Arch. ii), 453; Gent. Mag. 1832, pt. i. 109-10; PCC 206 Ash.
  • 2. SP 29/47/116; CSP Dom. 1667-8, p. 538; 1670, p. 36; Cal. Treas. Bks. ix. 203; x. 193-4, 448.
  • 3. Add. 39246, f. 23; R. R. Tighe and J. E. Davis, Annals of Windsor, ii. 442.
  • 4. Le Neve’s Knights (Harl. Soc. viii), 229-30, 349; VCH Suss. iv. 104; Westminster Abbey Reg. (Harl. Soc. x), 129; Bulstrode Pprs. 311; CSP Ire. 1666-9, pp. 463-4; HMC Lords n.s. ix. 198.
  • 5. CJ, x. 118, 132, 165, 254; Cal. Treas. Bks. ix. 203; xix. 376; J. Hervey, Diary (Suff. Green Bks. ii), 41.