Mary Ann May (née Hennigan)

23rd Dec 1795 - 1st Feb 1879

Claimant or beneficiary


Awarded the compensation for the enslaved people on Halifax estate in Manchester Jamaica, and identified as 'Mary Ann May, alias Hennigan' in the original claim and as 'Mary Ann May, alias Hennegan' in the 1826 Slave Registers. Described in the claim as 'at present in Great Britain'.

  1. Mary Ann Hennigan was born 23/12/1795 and baptised at the same time as her three elder sisters - Elizabeth born 1790, Susanna born 1792 and Ann born 1793 - in St Elizabeth, Jamaica, 22/02/1798. Her father was Charles Hennigan and her mother was Jane nee Parchment. Her father had died by 1809 when the tax givings-in showed Success estate in St Elizabeth registered to Charles Hennigan, deceased, with 94 enslaved people and 81 stock. By 1817 the givings-in showed Success estate registered to Mary Hennigan with 22 enslaved people. Mary Ann Hennigan was in Jamaica to register her own enslaved people in the Slave Registers for St Elizabeth in 1817.

  2. Mary Ann Hennegan married Edmund May in Bedminster, Somerset, England, 02/04/1820. They lived in England, Guernsey and the Isle of Man and by 1850 had emigrated to the United States. In the census of 1850, Edmond May, age 65, Tutor, born England, was living in Campbell County, Virginia, with Mary A. (age 55, born Jamaica), Edmond (age 25, Engineer, born England) and Aug. H. (age 24, Engineer, born England). In 1860 she was living in the household of her deceased daughter-in-law's family - the Dutchers - in Newark, County Allegan, Michigan. In the same household was William A. May, age 9, born Pennsylvannia, the son of Mary Ann's son Frederick Henry May and her daughter-in-law Mary Ann Dutcher. In the census of 1870, the widowed Mary Ann, age 73, born Jamaica, was living in the household of her son Frederick H., age 44, R[ail]R[oad] Conductor, born Isle of Man, his second wife and children. In the same household was Julia J. May, age 42, born Isle of Man, a daughter of Edmund and Mary Ann.

  3. Mary Ann did not return to Jamaica after her marriage but continued to own property there. Her attorney James Delap registered 25 enslaved people on her behalf in St Elizabeth in 1823. In the Slave Registers of 1826, James Delap registered that these enslaved people had been transferred to Manchester, Jamaica, where James Delap again registered her ownership of 30 and 31 enslaved in 1829 and 1832. It's not clear to what extent Mary Ann May owned land as well as enslaved people. She was awarded compensation for 31 enslaved people on Halifax estate in Manchester in 1835, but Halifax estate was registered to Andrew Bredan Delap in the Jamaica Almanacs for 1823 and 1825 and registered to James Daly in the Almanacs of 1828 and 1832.

  4. Mary Ann died in Allegan, Michigan, 01/02/1879.

  5. The James Westerman May merchant of Kingston whose will was proved 01/08/1815, appears unconnected. A James Westerman May, presumably the same man, was baptised at St Stephen Coleman Street 9/6/1784, son of James and Arabella May. Joseph and Mary May christened two sons, Joseph and James Westerman May, on the same day, 25/10/1804, again at St Stephen Coleman Street.

  6. Obituary of Marianne May from a newspaper in Allegan, Michigan:

"At the Chaffee House, Feb. 1, 1879, at 7:30 o;clock a.m. Mrs Marianne May, relict of Emund May and mother of Fred H May of this village, aged 82 years, 40 days.

"Mrs. M. May, the deceased, was born on the island of Jamaica, West Indies in the year 1796. Her father was a wealthy planter in the islands and died comparatively young from an accident leaving a widow and four daughters, with a large property in land and slaves. In due course the daughters were married: Marianne at the age of 24 at Bristol, England - whither she had been sent as was customary with the children of wealthy parents on the island - to Edmund May. They resided for some time on the island of Guernsey, one of the channel islands near the French coast, and afterwards moved to the Isle of Man in the Irish sea, where they resided some eighteen or twenty years. Except the two eldest all their children were born on the latter island.

"In 1841 they came to America, lived some months in Brooklyn, N.Y. and from there they went to Pike county, Pennsylvania. The second year of their residence there they lost everything by the burning of their residence, in which was stored a large stock of goods intended to be used to set up a country store in a small place named Quicktown, three miles from Milfrod, the county seat. They afterward lived on the Delaware river, at the mouth of the Lackawaxen where their second son, Frederic H. May, was married to Mary Anne Dutcher, daughter of William F. and Lucinda Dutcher, who afterwards came west and resided at Douglas, Mich. near the mouth of the Kalamazoo river. About 1850 or 1851 Mr Edmund May became associated with a female seminary at Ellicott's Mills, Maryland; afterwards resided in Lynchburg, Virginia, and died at Norfolk, in that state, in the year 1853. His widow, since that time, has made her home with her son, Fred H. May of this village. She was a member of the Episcopal Church, a faithful, trusting Christian; a good wife; a loving mother and a faithful friend. An invalid for many years scarcely if ever free from pain for at least ten years, she bore all with christian fortitude in the hope of a rest with God. Her body lies beside two of her grandchildren in the village cemetary.

"Her only living son and his family were with her in her last moments; who, with her daughter from Grand Rapids, attended her remains to the grave last Sunday. Rev. O.O. Fletcher of the Baptist church conducted the services, assisted by the choir of his church."


T71/860 Manchester no. 290 Mary Ann May, Great Britain, owner in fee.

  1. Email from John Groskoph 14/01/2014 outlining family history, sourced to the May family bible and a typed copy of an original hand written statement made by Marianne May and written down by her son Frederic May 06/02/1875. Baptism of Mary Ann and her sisters:, Jamaica Church of England Parish Register Transcripts, 1664-1880 [database online]. Givings-in of 1809 and 1817: Jamaica Almanacs (1811 and 1818). Slave Registers of 1817: T71/165 pp. 512-513.

  2. Email from John Groskoph 14/01/2014. Marriage: Familysearch batch no. I01816-7. United States Federal Censuses 1850 and 1870.

  3. Slave Registers: 1823 T71/168 pp. 173-174; 1826 T71/68 pp. 199-200; 1829 T71/70 unpaginated; 1832 T71/73 p. 180. Jamaica Almanacs (1823, 1825, 1829 and 1832).

  4. Email from John Groskoph 14/01/2014.

  5. PROB 11/1572;, London, England, Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1538-1812 [database online].

  6. Transcript sent in email from John Groskoph, 16/02/2014.

We are grateful to John Groskoph for his assistance in compiling this entry.

Further Information

Maiden Name
Name in compensation records
Mary Ann May alias Hennigan
Edmund May
Margaret Susan Drew (1821), Marrianne Amelia (1822-1828), Edmund Charles Moore Coolett (1824-1852), Frederick Henry (1826-), Julia Jane (1828-), Augustus Hennegan (1830-), Matilda Susan (1833-1851), Alfred Horace (1837?), Marrianne Amelia (1837-)

Associated Claims (1)

£568 26s 7d

Associated Estates (3)

The dates listed below have different categories as denoted by the letters in the brackets following each date. Here is a key to explain those letter codes:

  • SD - Association Start Date
  • SY - Association Start Year
  • EA - Earliest Known Association
  • ED - Association End Date
  • EY - Association End Year
  • LA - Latest Known Association
1826 [EA] - 1832 [LA] → Owner
1817 [EA] - → Owner
1820 [EA] - 1826 [LA] → Joint owner

Relationships (1)

Sister-in-law → Brother-in-law

Addresses (4)

Campbell County, Virginia, USA - United States of America
Newark, Allegan County, Michigan, USA - United States of America
Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, USA - United States of America