Lady May of Bughtrigg – The Times Obit

The Times, March 25, 1936

On March 24, 1936 at Bughtrigg, Coldstream, Berwickshire, Kinbarra Swene (Kinnie), widow of Admiral of the Fleet Sir William Henry May, G.C.B., G.C.V.O., in her 88th year. Funeral Duns, Friday 11:00a.m.

Following assume from a local paper

The Late Lady May


The news of the death of Lady May, Bughtrigg, which occurred at her residence, early on Tuesday morning, was received with much regret by a wide circle of friends, and more especially by the residents in the Leitholm district, where she had been for 23 years a very popular figure and a lady well-beloved by all. Lady May had been ill for about a month but recently she had shown signs of returning to her usual good health, and it was, therefore quite a shock to all who knew her to hear of her passing, which came unexpectedly.

Lady May was the widow of Admiral of the Fleet Sir William Henry May, who died in October 1930. After her husband’s death she continued in residence at Bughtrigg and also continued her good work amongst the people of the district, who held her in high respect and affection. Her maiden name was Kinbarra Swene Marrow, a daughter of the late Mr. W.J. Marrow, Liverpool. Born in September 1848, she was in her 88th year, but despite her years, she remained active up until the time of her recent illness. She was married in 1878, and on many occasions accompanied her husband on the Admiral’s yacht, while he was on duty in various parts of the world. They were a devoted couple, and naturally the Admiral’s death in 1930 came as a severe blow to her.


Lady May’s death is a great loss to the villagers of Leitholm, where her good works will remain in the memory of all. She had a particular concern for the sick and needy and made it a rule of her life, to always keep in touch with the poorer people in the district.

No case of illness was ever brought to her notice without her personally visiting, if she thought sympathy, help or encouragement was required. When she visited these cases, hers was always help of a practical kind. It is not the first time that she has been known to be paying a visit to a sick women and on hearing that the man of the house was expected home for tea, she promptly saw to it that the fire was attended to, the kettle boiled, and the tea put on the table.

No call for any charitable purpose was ever made on her for vain. She was a cheerful giver, and loved to help those, as she put it herself “who are not so well off as I am” She had a bright and kindly personality and a spirit which was at all time helpful and cheerful. She will be very much missed in the district of Leitholm, where she had done so much to lighten the burdens of other people.


That Lady May took a keen interest in everything which had to do with the welfare of the people of all classes was evidenced by the support she gave to all clubs and associations in the district. She was President of the Girl Guides, and a member of the Nursing Association Committee. She was one of the founders of the local branch of the Women’s Rural Institute and held office of Hon. President. A keen supporter of the Episcopal Church, she was a regular attender at Christ Church, Duns.

In all walks of life, and with everyone she came in contact with , Lady May was very popular and she will be very much missed by a wide circles of friends.

Lady May is survived by two sons. The eldest is Lieut-General, Sir Reginald Seaburne May, K.C.B., K.B.E., C.M.G., D. & O., late General Officer Commanding 49th West Riding Division, T.A. York and now Quartermaster General to the Forces at the War Office, London. The second son is Commander Archibald Seaburne May, M.V.O., who is at present in Malta, and was unable to be at the funeral on Friday, Admiral and Lady May’s only daughter died at Bughtrigg in 1921.


The funeral took place to Christ Church Churchyard on Friday, when the large attendance of mourners was evidence of the very high respect and deep affection in which Lady May had been held.

A service was held in the church, to which the coffin had previously been taken. The service being conducted by the Rev. R.A. Forde, Rector, while Mr J.L. Hume presided at the organ. The service was wholly choral, the praise being led by the surpliced choir.

The opening hymn was “Let Saints on earth in concert sing” and this was followed by Psalm 23 “The Lord is my Shepherd:. The Lesson was taken from St. John ands was followed by prayers. The hymn “O God, our help” was sung and after the blessing had been pronounced, the coffin was carried from the church, while the choir, who led, sang the Nune Dimittis.

The committal service was also taken by Mr Forde. The grave was lined by a special grass surrounding, with a row of pink cut flowers round the top.


The chief mourners were:-

Lieutenant – General Sir Reginald Seaburne May Son
Mr William May Grandson
Mr Guy May Grandson
Mr George Buckstone Nephew
Miss Molly Marrow Niece
Mrs Crake Niece
Mrs Sale Neice

The Pallbearers were:-

Lieutenant – General Sir Reginald Seaburne May Son
Mr William May Grandson
Mr Guy May Grandson
Mr George Buckstone Nephew
Mr Donaldson Employee at Bughtrigg
Mr Paterson Employee at Bughtrigg
Mr Blackie Employee at Bughtrigg
Mr Denholm Employee at Bughtrigg


Lieut-Colonel R.H. Crake – Cumledge
Mr John Sale -Glanton
Major Wilson -Antons Hill
Lieut-Colonel C.S. Stirling-Cochrane – Sydenham House Kelso
Mr and Mrs W.E. Kitson – Blanerne
Cdr. and Mrs H Lillingston – Horncliffe House
Mrs J.F. Erskine – Bonky Lodge
Lord Douglas M.P.
(representing the Earl of Home) The Hirsel
Cdr. Bowlby Laws
Colonel and Lady Edith Trotter – Charterhall
Mrs Mitchell-Innes – Whitehall
Mr R.C. Campbell-Renton – Mordington
Colonel and Mrs Henry Rathburne
Colonel Logan Home – Edrom
Mrs Logan Home – Broomhouse
Lady Francis Osborne – Ord House
Captain Home – Bassendean
The Rev. A E Swinton – Swinton House
Mr J.G.G. Leadbeitter – Kelso
Mrs Hotham Milnegrasden
The Rev J.L. Douglas Eccles
The Rev J.M. McIlvride – Leitholm
Mrs Johnston – Bughtrigg
Miss Burgen – Bughtrigg
Mrs Waiston – Bughtrigg
Mr A.T. Elliott – Coldstream
Mr J Simpson – Charterhall
Mr and Miss Anderson – Bughtrigg
Mr W. Smith – Langrigg
Mr R.S. Kerr – Lochrig
Mr G.K. Sneddon – Duns
Mr and Mrs C.H. Marshall – Stainrigg Mains
Mr J. Henderson – Leitholm
Mr G.Jeffrie – Leitholm
Mr A. Blckie – Leitholm
Mr G Paterson – Leitholm
Mr G. Moffat – Leitholm
Mr A. Gibson – Leitholm
Mr W.C. Robson – Leitholm
Mr A. Middlemass – Leitholm
Mr D Renton – Leitholm
Mr .B. Jenkinson – Leitholm
Mr J. Logan – Leitholm
Mr A. H. Jenkinson – Leitholm
Mr J Logan – Castlelaw
Mr R Scott – Castlelaw
Mr H. McDougal – Leitholm
Mr W Mills – Leitholm
etc etc…


Many and beautiful were the floral tributes laid on the grave, these being as follows:-

In loving and grateful remembrance Reggie, Archie, Jane and Mary
With much love from her grandsons Hugh and Bob
In kind remembrance from Reggie
In loving remembrance of a perfect grandmother from Will and Guy
In ever affectionate memory of Auntie Kinnie with best love from Vera and Hew
Aunt Kinnie- in very loving memory from Marjorie Hamilton, David and May
In most loving remembrance of our dear Aunt Kinnie, from James, Alex and Geoffrey Bourne-May
In affectionate memory from Fred and Lee Drake
In loving remembrance from Willie – Rev W.J.W Marrow
With loving thoughts Molly and Ray
With affectionate remembrance Robert and Irene 9, Sloane Court S.W.3
In affectionate memory from Marjorie – Mr Harcourt. Malwood Walk 9, Headfort Place S.W.1
With affectionate remembrance Captain and Mrs Anderson, Bowerhouse
With my love Molly and Ray
With blessings and fond love Mrs Hunter, Antonshill
In affectionate memory from Cdr. and Mrs Hugh Lillington, Horncliffe house
Fondest love and farewell Alison and Peter – Mrs P.B. O’Connor
In very affectionate remembrance General and Mrs Edward baird, Kelloe, Edron
With deepest sympathy Brig. General and Mrs Erskine. Benkyl Lodge
In affectionate remembrance from Brig General and Mrs Ray
In happy memory of 46 years’ friendship with Lady May of Bughtrigg Sir Robert Hill. Army and Navy Club
With deepest sympathy from Captain and Mrs Hugh Bowlby
With our deepest regrets and love Mr and Mrs J. Ramsay Drake. 29 Wellington Court S.W.
In loving memory from Gladys, Mr and Mrs Geoffrey C. Gibson. Gilston Rd. S.W.10
With very affectionate remembrance George and Victo Nay. Sutton-on-the-Hill Derby
In kindly remembrance Mrs Andrew Smith Mrs Andrew Smith
In loving and respectful memory of our dear Lady, thanking and honouring her for the fine example she has set. From the Indoor and Outdoor Staff of Bughtrigg
With affectionate memory Colonel and Lady Edith Trotter. Charterhall
In loving remembrance Edward and Edith. 43 The Boltons S.W.
With all my love Mrs G Gough
In grateful and loving remembrance of Lady May from Mrs Hilson, Blackadder, Bella and Mrs Johnstone
In affectionate memory from J.M. Greig 512 Camden Hill Gate
  From Mrs L.F. Machin. Kipling Hall Scorton Yorks
In loving remembrance from Consie, Peter and Charles
Sincerest sympathy Mr and Mrs Chambers
In deepest sympathy Jack Monteith. Trinity College Cambridge
In loving memory of our dear President from Leitholm Girl Guides and thier Captain
In kindest remembrance and deepest sympathy Miss Tait Edenside. Kelso
In affectionate memory of many years of valued friendship Lady Leveson, Miss Mary Leveson. 25 Hereford House North Row W.1
With deepest affection from Admiral and Mrs Parker. Hillside Bracknell
With love Petrina
With deepest sympathy Mr and Mrs Fairbairn. Coldstream
From the garden she loved so dearly: In loving remembrance and deepest sympathy from John and Kinbarra Morse
Auntie Kinnie, with love from Gilum and Abe
With love Johnie and Nancy. Glanton Pyke
With heartfelt sympathy from Ellen, Annie and Wilson

The coffin was polished oak with raised lid and heavy brass mountings. The plate bore the following inscription:- Kinbarra Swene May. Born 12th September 1848 Died 24th March 1936.

The entire funeral arrangements were carried out by Mr W.C. McLaren, undertaker, Duns.

Berwickshire News and General Advertiser – Tuesday 31 march 1936

THE LATE LADY MAY, OF BUGHTRIGG Respected And Beloved In The District deeply regret to announce the death of Lady May, Bughtrigg, which occurred at her residence early in the  morning of Tuesday last. Her Ladyship had been ill for about a month, but lately it was hoped that she was making progress towards recovery, and the news of her passing caused quite shock to the people o the district, in which she has resided for well nigh quarter-of-a-century, and by whom she was much respected and beloved.

Lady May’ s maiden name was Kinbarra Swene Marrow, and she was the daughter of the late Mr W. J. Marrow, Liverpool, and was born in September, 1848. Although she had entered upon her 88th year, she remained in good health and retained a considerable measure of activity up to her last illness. She was married in 1878 and with her husband, the late Admiral of the Fleet, Sir William May, celebrated her golden wedding in 1928. She frequently accompanied her husband on his Admiral’s yacht when he was on service in various parts of the world. Admiral May, who settled down at Bughtrigg, in 1913, died in 1930. To the people of Leitholm and district, Lady May was a very good friend and her memory will long be cherished for her many good deeds. The sick and the needy were her peculiar care; it had been her lifelong practice to attend to the wants of such. She gave more than material help; the personal touch, the kindly visit, the unfeigned sympathy, the cheering word of encouragement, while many instances are being recalled to-day of a characteristic practically which made her native kindness of heart all the more valuable. It would not be wide of the mark to say that charitable appeal was made to her in vain; and she gave readily and promptly. She was a liberal supporter of all clubs and associations in the district. The Girl Guides was an institution in which she took much interest, and she had been for many years President. She was a member of the Nursing Association Committee and took prominent part in the formation of the local Women’s Rural Institute in which she held the office of Hon. President. She was a devoted supporter and a regular attender of Christ Church, Duns, and contributed liberally to its funds. By her death there is removed a very fine personality, whose popularity with all classes was unbounded, and well deserved. She is survived by two sons. The elder is Lieut. Gen. Reginald Seaburne May, K.C.B. K.8.E., C.M.G., D.S.O., late G.O.C.. 49 West Riding Division T.A. York, now Quartermaster-General to the Forces at the War Office, London. The younger son is Captain Archibald Seaborne May, M.V.O., who at the present time is in Malta.  Admiral and Lady May’s only daughter died in 1921.


  • To visit the full Genealogy Page please click on:- May


  1. I am currently researching my family tree (early days) and know that I have family connections in Leitholm – my paternal Grandfather (John Jenkinson) and Great Grandfather (Andrew Brown Jenkinson)both are buried in Leitholm cemetary. I note that there are references on this site to a Mr B Jenkinson and a Mr A.H. Jenkinson both present at Lady May’s funeral. Does anyone know who they were as it it possible / likely that they were relations?

    • Thanks for your interest in my site. As far as I know there is no relationship between the May and Jenkinson families. They were not at my great grandfathers (Sir William May) funeral service so I have to assume that they knew Lady May through the many activities she was involved in locally in the area. Good luck in researching your family tree. There is a site that might help you

  2. Hello Brian. I know a bit about your family. I live in Leitholm and researching the casualties on the war memorial. If I can be of any help please let me know.

    • I’ve just came across this webpage by searching for a family member who was listed as living/working at Bughtrigg in 1935 on his mothers death certificate. He is listed as a Pallbearer at the funeral as an Employee. His name was James Donaldson he was born in Leitholm to John Donaldson and Mary (nee) McPherson. They were a rather large family and were known to have resided at Earnslaw House. I’m really trying to find out about the family, who James and his siblings married, where they all moved too, did they have any children? And information would be hugely appreciated. I’ve managed to find James sister Jessie and Margaret Ellen Anderson Donaldson as she was my Great Grandma. All I know about James is what I’ve said and I know nothing else about the other siblings. I’m hoping someone will be able to help with information/photos etc. My email is Thank you.

    • In looking through my site I see you responded to Brian regarding his family. I have another enquiry my site from Kirsty Spence and I wonder whether you might be able to help. She has sent me other emails not on this site and is very eager to find out as much as possible. Thanks and let me know as well. Peter.

  3. Peter May I am the grand daugter of John Robert May from South Africa. Would like to know more about the May family on that side. Busy doing Family Tree but dont know much about the rest over sea.

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