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May, Joseph Claudius
1845 to 1902
Methodist
Sierra Leone

Siera Leonean clergyman and prominent educationist.

Born on 14 August 1845 in Freetown, he was the son of a Yoruba Creole clergyman, the Rev. Joseph May, who died in 1891. He worked first as a shop assistant until the age of 20, when it was decided that he should follow his father into the Wesleyan (Methodist) ministry. He did so after his education in England, and later at Wesley College, Taunton, Somerset and Westminster Normal Training School.

He returned to Sierra Leone in 1871. His ordination was delayed by the chairman and general superintendent of the Sierra Leone Methodist Church, the Rev. B. Tregaskis, who had sponsored his studies (and those of Samuel Lewis). The Church Missionary Society was the other major Protestant mission in Sierra Leone and Tregaskis had long planned a secondary school to rival the CMS Grammar School. Nevertheless he delayed its opening until 1874 and Rev. J. C. May became its first principal. He was ordained in 1880.

For a quarter of a century the Rev. May headed the major educational institution in that early centre of Western education in West Africa. According to Prof. C. Fyfe in A Short History of Sierra Leone, "He was a fine teacher, kind and patient, who won the affection of his staff and pupils and made his School as good as, if not better than the CMS Grammar School." He remained principal until his death on 14 October 1902.

From 1882 to 1888 he was editor of the Methodist Herald. In September 1884, aided by Dr. E. W. Blyden, he founded the Sierra Leone Weekly News. It was the most famous of all the Sierra Leonean newspapers (which were of high quality) in the late 19th and 20th centuries. It was edited by J. C. May's brother, Cornelius, who later also became famous as a mayor of Freetown in the 1920s.

The Rev. May married Christiana Bull and they had seven children. He died in the year 1902.

 



Sources Consulted Include:

* Africa Year Book and Who's Who (London: Africa Journal, 1977).
* Africa Today, first edition, (Denver, CO : Africa Today Associates, 1981).
* Africa Who's Who, first edition, 1981.
* Africa Who's Who, second edition, 1991 (published by Africa Books Ltd., U.K).
* Ralph Ewechue (ed.), Makers of Modern Africa, 2nd edition (London: Africa Books, 1991).
* Daily Times of Nigeria (Lagos).
* Nigeria Year Book, 1974, 1975, 1976-1978, 1979, 1980 (Lagos : Nigerian Printing & Publishing Co.).
* S. Decalo, Historical Dictionary of Togo, 3rd ed., (London : Scarecrow Press, 1996).
* Ralph Uweche, Africa Who's Who, 1991 (Lagos, Nigeria: Africa Book Ltd.).
* J. C. Choate, The Voice of Truth International, 1991, Vol. 21 (U.S.A.)
* E. EL Hadj-Omar, Who's Who In Africa Dictionary.
* In the Land of the Pharaohs- An introduction to a 1968 case study by Khalil Mahmud, 2nd ed., (London : Cass, 1968).
* L. H. Ofosu-Appiah, Dictionary of African Biography, volume on Ghana & Ethiopia, volume on Sierra Leone & Zaire, (New York : Reference Publications, 1977-).
* Cyril P. Foray, Historical Dictionary of Sierra Leone (London : Scarecrow Press, 1977).
* Gailey H. A., A History of Sierra Leone.
* I. Geiss, The Pan-African Movement (London : Methuen, 1974).
* L. C. Gwan, Great Nigerians.
* E. Kay (ed.), Dictionary of African Biography (London : Melrose Press, 1971-1972).
* Pan-Vegio Patriot Macdonald- H. Edward Wilmot
* R. K. Rasmussen, Historical Dictionary of Rhodesia Zimbabwe (London : Scarecrow Press, 1979).
* E. Rosenthal, Encyclopaedia of South Africa, 7th ed., (Cape Town : Juta, 1978).
* S. Ramgoolam, Seychelles Government Annual Reports.
* S. Taylor (ed.), The New Africans (London : Paul Hamlyn, 1967).
* V. Thompson and R. Adlof, Historical Dictionary of Congo (London : Scarecrow Press, 1996).
* Times Newspapers Ltd; Obituaries from the Times (Volume 1, 1961-1970; Vol.2, 1971- 1975)
* P. J. Vatikiotis, The History of Egypt, 3rd ed., (London : Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1985, c1969).
* H. Zell and H. Silver (eds.), A Reader's Guide to African Literature (London : Heinemann, 1972).
* H. Zell, C. H. Bundy and V. Coulon (eds.), A New Reader's Guide to African Literature, rev. ed., (London : Heinemann, 1983).

ARTICLES IN LEARNED JOURNALS
* Journal of the Historical Society of Nigeria (Ibadan : Ibadan University Press): Vol. V Nos. 2 & 3, 1970, (Adeleye, R. A.).
* Journal of the Historical Society of Nigeria (Ibadan : Ibadan University Press): Vol. VI Nos. 204, 1969, (Ekejiuba, F.).
* Journal of the Historical Society of Nigeria, "A Biographical Sketch," (Omu Okwei), (Ibadan : Ibadan University Press): Vol. III No 4, 1967.
* Journal of African History, (London : Cambridge University Press): Vol. V No 3, 194 (Hopkins A. G.).

PERIODICALS AND NEWSPAPERS CONSULTED
Africa (Tunis : Ministère des Affaires Culturelles et de l'Information, 1971 ff).
Africa Diary (Delhi : Africa Publications (India), 1961 ff).
Africa Research Bulletin (Africa Research Ltd), (Oxford : Blackwell, 1964 ff).
Ambassador International (Vol 211; 1985).
Commonwealth Currents (1978).
Guardian (London, s.n.).
Independent (London, s.n.).
The Times (London).
West Africa (London : West Africa Publishing, 1917).