Oxford History: Mayors & Lord Mayors


Sir John Seman (fl. 1480)

Mayor of Oxford 1476/7, 1477/8, 1482/3, and 1486/7

John Seman was an Oxford cordwainer.

He was appointed a Bailiff on the council in 1459 and again in 1468, and was also chosen as one of the four Aldermen in 1463, 1465, 1468, 1469, 1473, 1478, 1485, and 1490.

Seman accompanied the Mayor, John Clark, to the Coronation of Edward IV on 28 June 1461 and was knighted around this time.

Sir John Seman was elected Mayor of Oxford for 1476/7 and 1477/8.

Seman was elected Member of Parliament for Oxford in 1478.

He was then elected Mayor again for 1482/3, and 1483/4. He was thus Mayor himself at the time of a second Coronation, that of Richard III on 6 July 1483, but it is unlikely that he attended the Coronation or performed the Oxford mayor’s traditional role of butler at the Coronation feast, as this crown was snatched speedily.

Seman appears to have acted as a common lawyer, as a dispute is submitted to his arbitration in the Chancellor’s Court in August 1499. In May 1500 he stood surety that a bond would be produced.

He was still an Alderman in 1496.

† Sir John Seman died between 1496 and January 1501.

Seman’s family

Seman had a son George Seman, who admitted that his mother Joan, widow of John Seman, owed £3.14.9 to Margaret, widow of Henry Wynge, of London.

The Nicholas Seman who came on to the council in 1469 may be his younger brother

There is also a John Seman on the Mayor’s Council from 1518 to 1522, and in 1524 Oxford’s wealthiest taxpayer (paying £4 10s) was a John Seman, cordwainer of All Saints parish, the employer of nine men.

See also:

  • Wood’s City of Oxford, Vol. III, pp. 169–70, where he states that the John Seman, owner of the Red Lion, who was buried at St Martin’s Church in 1529, was the son of the Mayor’s brother William.
  • Biography not yet available on the History of Parliament website

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 22 September, 2018

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