Oxford History: Mayors & Lord Mayors


Laurence Kepeharm (d. c.1208)

Mayor of Oxford from at least 1205–1207

Laurence Kepeharm (or Kepeharme / Cepharme / Chepeharm) was the first person to be described as the chief officer (Sheriff rather than Mayor) of Oxford. He was the son of John Kepeharm (who had been sole alderman of the merchant guild in 1190) and his wife Alice.

The Kepeharm family had held land in Oxford from the 1130s, and Anthony Wood refers to Kepeharm Hall, Kepeharm Lane (known as “Kepeharme’s twychen in parochia S. Aldati”, and stretching from St Aldate’s to Pennyfarthing Street) as existing in the mid-twelfth century. The name Kepeharm appears to be unique to this one Oxford family.

In 1192 Kepeharm owed the King (Richard the Lionheart) £5 for the postponement of his pilgrimage or crusade.

Laurence Kepeharm married Christine Pady (who may have been a cousin of the Mayor John Pady). Their daughter married John Sewy, a Bailiff on the council.

Kepeharm was sole Alderman in about 1200, and Mayor of Oxford from at least 1205 to 1207.

† Laurence Kepeharm probably died between 1207 and 1209, as the earliest Mayors of Oxford held office for life and there was a different Mayor that year.

He appears to have died without male heirs, as some of his property was inherited by his son-in-law, John Sewy.

Anthony Wood records that Kepeharm gave Gulp Hall to St Frideswide’s Priory, and that it was “confirmed afterward by Christian his wife in her widowhood”.

See also:

  • Wood’s City of Oxford, I, pp. 198-200 (“Kepeharme’s Lanel”, including a genealogy of the Kepeharms, and “Kepeharme Hall”)
  • Wood’s City of Oxford, III, pp. 58–60 (“Off the name Kepeharme in Oxford”)
  • The Surnames of Oxfordshire, pp. 25–6

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 13 January, 2020

Oxford Mayors home Small Shark Oxford History home