(b.1837 Morthoe, Devon, d. 21st. Feb.1914 in West Buckland, Devon)
John was born in Morthoe in 1837 or early 1838 (no birth record). His father James and mother
Margaret (Brown) were married on 15th. August 1836 and John was joined by a sister Mary Ann on the
13th.January 1839 in Horwood. Shortly after this his father James left the family (see separate page on
In the 1841 John (3) is shown living with his sister, mother and her father John Brown, in Horwood
The 1851 census shows John aged 13, working as a farm labourer for Thomas Copp, a farmer of 396
acres in Tawstock and his mother an agricultural labourer in Horwood.
Later on that year, on 5th. December, she married John May, from Westleigh, in the Bideford Registry
Office. A son Henry was born on 26th. December 1852. But unfortunately her new husband John had
already died of Apoplexy on the 7th.November that year.
In 1861 he was still in Horwood with his mother Margaret and sister, both laundresses, also Henry May.
Margaret died in Horwood on the 4th.Jan.1879.
When aged 42 he was living with his sister and her family, now Mary Ann Mountjoy, in Eastleigh
village, whereas his wife to be, Mary Ann Vickery, was working for the Rector of Horwood John Dene,
as a cook/domestic servant in Horwood House according to the 1881 census. Her parents were Joseph,
a farmer of 130 acres, and Elizabeth living at Witsford, in West Buckland with eight other children.
They married on 28th. June 1882 in West Buckland and moved to 94 Valence Cottages, Chadwell
Heath, Essex, working as a gardener for a Thomas May at Valence House Estate, where he was the
first, of many, to see the White Lady Ghost (for more details refer to the Valance House history on
the Links page).
Thomas was a farmer in Fremington, Devon until 1878 when he brought his wife Helen, mother-in-law
Eliza Luxmoore and young children to Valence House and the surrounding market gardening estate.
Now a museum, papers say that Thomas May was a shadowy figure, chiefly remembered for the prize
horse stud that he established thereŁ. He died of T.B. on the 20th. May 1913, his last words being, I am
not Thomas MayŁ.
John and Mary Ann stayed on Valence Estate for approx. ten years, having the following children,
John Henry May (1884), Arthur(1886), James Vickery(1888), Mary Elizabeth(1890), Margaret Helen(1892),
and Albert Vickery(1883). But after the deaths of Margaret in 1893 and Albert in 1892, they moved back
to Devon, staying in "Clockey", West Buckland and working on the farm of Mary Ann's father Joseph
Vickery and mother Elizabeth. Here twins Ethel and Margaret were born in 1895 and Annie in 1898.
John died on 21st. Feb.1914 and Mary on 29th. Oct.1909, in West Buckland.