Oxford History: Mayors & Lord Mayors


John Clark (d. c.1484)

Mayor of Oxford 1459/60, 1460/1, 1463/4,
1468/9, 1475/6, 1478/9, and 1479/80

John Clark (or Clarke / Clerk / Clerke) was an Oxford fishmonger. In 1444 Michael Norton, the town clerk, enfeoffed John Clark and others of a property in All Saints called Redcocks and a cellar in St Martin’s called Swyndlestock. Anthony Wood mentions that he also owned Trill Mill Hall.

Clark was elected Senior Bailiff in 1445 and was seven times Mayor of Oxford between 1459 and 1479. He was also elected one of the four Alderman in 1465, 1469, 1473, and 1476.

John Clark served two consecutive terms as Mayor of Oxford for 1459/60 and 1460/1. The coronation of Edward IV took place on 28 June 1461, and Clark attended the ceremony and then performed the traditional mayoral role of butler at the Coronation Feast in Westminster Hall. He was accompanied by Alderman Richard Spraget, Bailiff Richard Bramwich, former bailiffs John Seman and John Lowe, and William Blackburn. A detailed record of the ceremony made by Thomas Tanfeld, the Town Clerk of Oxford, survives:

First be it understood that at the coronation of kinge Edward the forth, John Clerke fishmonger, that tyme mayor of Oxford, with vi burgesses clothed in one suite rod up to London. And they lett make a bill of the clayme of his service in the king’s butterie to my lord Steward, whose office is to admitt everie officer to his office at the feste, under the forme that foloweth: the superscription,

“Unto the full noble and gracious Lord the heigh steward of England. Shewen to your good and gracious lordshipp the mayor and burgesses of the town of Oxford, that where they and theyre predicessours, mayors and burgesses of the sayd towne, for the tyme beinge by authoritie of divers graunts and confimacions, graunted, confirmed unto them by the right noble progentiors of our leigh the kinge that now is have used and enjoyed, from time that noe mynde of man [ys] had unto the contrarie, for to serve our liege lord the kinge for the tyme beinge in his Buttlarie with his citizens of his citie of London at and in his feste of coronation under semable maner and forme as he [ys] served by his sayd citizens at an in the same fest. Wherefore please it you, good noble lord, to accepte and admitte John Clerke mayor of the citie of Oxford and Richard Spragett, Richard Bramwich, John Lowe, John Seman, Thomas Tanfilde and William Blakburne, burgesses of the sayd towne, for to occupie the said office and to serve with the citiziens of the said citie of London in the butterie of our liege lord the kinge, that now is, at and in the feaste of present coronation in seemable maner and forme, as the sayd citizens of the sayd citie shall occupie and serve, and like as the predicessors of your said supplicants, mayor and burtesses of the sayd towne, in tyme past have used for to doe with all maner of fees, wages and profits unto them pertayninge by vertue of the sayd office, at the reverence of God & for charitie.”

And at the fest was my Lord George, the king’s brother the heigh steward; and for he was but yonge and tender of age, my Lord Wenloke was assigned to hime for to receive the bills; and to hime was assigned of counsell Thomas Younge, a famous learned man to the which [then] the sayd mayor and his burgesses put theire bill afor rehersed, and they were gladly and worsipfully resyvyd and admitte by our liege Lord’s owne mouth; and of the kinge had great thanks for theyre clayme; and one the morrowe at viii of the clock the sayd mayor and burgesses were brought to the treasurer of the king’s hall by the sayd Lord Wenlocke and Thomas Yonge; they certified the sayd tresurer, whose name was Sir John Skott knight, how that the kinge had admitt the sayd mair and burgesses for to serve in his Buttillarie. And then the sayd tresurer comaunded officers for to ordayne a place for the mayor and his burgesses, and made them sitt to meate, and worshipfully served and attended by officers. And when they had eaten, the sayd tresurer brought them into the buttlerie sayinge theese words to the cheefe butler of that contrie, Richard Forries:– “Comyn my brother the mayor of Oxford for to discharge you of your office at this tyme of this coronation.” And he welcomed him well and gladly; and the tresurer lefte us there with the chardge. And the buttler delivered each of the burgesses an aupron and well and goodly enformed us in the sayd office; and bad us comaunde him or any under hime there and wee should have our comaundmente; and soe we had. And when the kinge was up, the mayor had for his fees III ashen cupps that the kinge was served with and great thanks and well comended of our leige lord the kinge. God preserve hime and save the crowne. Amen.

In the sixth episode of the great Oxford Pageant of 1912 (entitled “Edward IV at Oxford, A.D. 1461:The King makes the Mayor his cup-bearer at coronations”), John Clark played his role.

John Clark served as Mayor five more times, making seven terms in all, for 1463/4, 1468/9, 1475/6, 1478/9, and 1479/80.

† John Clark died in c.1484, as his will was proved that year.

He left to St Aldate’s Church a house at the further end of Grandpont to support masses and a dirge and a requiem twice a year.

On 15 September 1581, praise was given to God for the benefactors to the City, and Clark was thus lauded:

For John Clarke, who was seven tymes Mayor of this Cytie, and Margerye his wieffe, who gave to thuse of dame Margarett Northerne iijli in money.

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 23 September, 2018

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