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Sir Thomas Erskine May, Lord Farnborough

In the south aisle of St Margaret's church Westminster is a memorial brass to lawyer Sir Thomas Erskine May, who was created Lord Farnborough on his retirement from the House of Commons. He is buried at Chippenham in Cambridgeshire. The inscription reads: 

In memory of the Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas Erskine May, K.C.B., D.C.L., bencher of the Middle Temple. Created in 1886, in acknowledgement of eminent service to the State Lord Farnborough. Born 8th February 1815. Died 17th May 1886. He was 54 years in the service of the House of Commons, during 15 years of which he held the office of "Clerk of the House". He was the author of historical works of standard merit, and above all of the "Treatise of the law and usage of Parliament" and by this work alone he conferred lasting benefit on the Parliament of the United Kingdom as well as on every State where Parliamentary government prevails. His friends have raised this memorial in token of affection and of a life devoted to the public service

Born in London, a son of Thomas May and his wife Sarah, he was educated privately at Bedford and became a lawyer. In 1831 he was assistant to the librarian of the House of Commons. There were no children of his marriage with Louisa Laughton. In 1871 he became Clerk of the House and published more volumes including The Constitutional History of England since...George III and Democracy in Europe, a history. He died at the Palace of Westminster.

Further reading

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2004


8th February 1815


17th May 1886




St Margaret's Church

Memorial Type


Material Type


Sir Thomas Erskine May, Lord Farnborough
Sir Thomas Erskine May, Lord Farnborough memorial

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2020 Dean and Chapter of Westminster

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