Charles MAY – Metropolitan Police Officer
Those who have been reading my blogs on this site will know that in 1844 three Metropolitan Police officers left London aboard the SS Oriental bound for the new British Colony of Hong Kong where they were expected to establish a brand new police force. One of these was Charles MAY who became a prominent personality in the early history of Hong Kong. He is mentioned in most Hong Kong history books and so much has been written about him over the years that I always felt that there could be nothing more to be found. What a silly thought. For “anoraks” such as myself there is ALWAYS something else waiting to be discovered !!! Having had a quick look through my own “archive” the following little known facts about Charles’ service with the Met. seem worthy of note:
Joined as Police Constable 7 November 1835
Promoted to Sergeant 20 November 1837
Whilst serving on T division his collar number was T21
Promoted to Inspector & transferred to K Div 7 June 1839
On the night of the 1841 census Inspector MAY & his trusty Sergeant, Thomas SMITHERS, were on duty at the Police Station in Newby Place, Poplar. They had three prisoners in their cells.
Charles’ younger brother joined the Metropolitan Police in 1842.
In 1843 Inspector MAY of “K” Division was allowed the following gratuities:
27 April 6/-
25 July £2 2 sh 0d
21 August 6/-
On 29 June 1844 Charles received orders to proceed to Paris with a sergeant to apprehend a murderer. They arrived in Paris on 1 July and met the British Ambassador. Then ensued a three week delay whilst bureaucratic wrangling took place between British and French officials. On 25 July with necessary paperwork in hand the Metropolitan Police officers arrived in the Prefect of Beauvais – some 56 miles from Paris. The following day they travelled a further 26 miles to Claremont where the prisoner had been incarcerated. Eventually with prisoner in their custody they travelled by Post Chaise to Boulogne accompanied by a member of the local Gendarmerie. Arriving at 7.30pm on the 27 July they found that they were too late for the Steam Boat and were forced to find accommodation. They caught the boat at 8am the next morning and arrived at London Bridge at 10pm. Then it was off to Poplar Police Station to confine the prisoner for the night. The next morning the party were on the river again travelling to Gravesend. Eventually the prisoner was handed over to the Kent authorities and taken off to Maidstone Gaol. The bill for this deportation exercise came to a whopping £49 5sh 0d and took a whole month of Inspector May’s time. Never let it be said that serving with the Metropolitan Police in the 1840s was boring.
It was whilst Charles was in Paris that Sir Richard Mayne submitted the names of MAY, SMITHERS and McGREGOR as being the most suitable officers for the job of establishing the police in the new Colony of Hong Kong.
If you are interested in reading a few more little known facts about Charles MAY keep watching these postings as there are many more that I have discovered over the years !!
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