Elected F.R.S. 1975
Paul de Mayo was born in London, the only son of Nissim and Anna de Mayo, who were originally members of the Sephardic Jewish community of Salonika (now Thessalonike). They emigrated to England in 1919 with their three-year-old daughter, Flora, to escape the civil disturbances that preceded the cession of Salonika from Turkey to Greece. Anna de Mayo's grandfather had been born in Gibraltar, and this British connection inclined the family to seek permanent refuge in England rather than in France, where other parts of the family had gone. Once settled in London, Nissim established a business as an importer of plant materials, especially of those reputed to have medicinal properties.