Oxford History: Mayors & Lord Mayors


John Barkesdale (d. 1591)

Mayor of Oxford 1584/5

John Barkesdale (or Barksdale/Barkesdayle/Barksdall/Barkesdall) was an Oxford tanner. He obtained his freedom by purchase in the mayoral year 1553/3.

Barkesdale first came on to the council in September 1555, and was elected Senior Chamberlain in 1562 and Senior Bailiff in 1565.

In April 1568 Barkesdale, who owned the site of the Black Friars, paid five shillings towards the lottery in the South-west ward.

On 29 November 1576 the city granted Barkesdale a 21-year lease of land in Grandpont on the south side of the Trill Mill stream:

Yt is agreed that this Counsell that Mr Barkesdale shall have the banke on the sowthe syde of the ryver of Trylmyll bowe, from Lyttell Yeate brydge unto the next arche benethe, so much theireof as ys nowe fyrme grounde, in leas of thys Ctie, ffrom thannuncyacion of or belsed [sic] Ladye next to the ende and term of xxjtie yeares, for iiijd of yearelye rent, and he meynteyning that syde of the same ryver.

On 11 April 1581 Barkesdale was elected one of the six Mayor’s Associates. The next year he made a contribution of 3s. 4d. towards a gatehouse in Port Meadow.

On 14 September 1584 Barkesdale was elected Mayor of Oxford (for 1584/5). At the end of his year of office, on 10 September 1585, two of his requestes were granted:

Hit is agreed, at the instante request of Mr. John Barkesdale nowe mayor made to this howsse, that William Barkesdale of Hincksey his brother, tanner, shalbe admitted into the fredome of this Cytie, onlie for the somme of iiiis. vid. for the officers’ fees….

At this counsayle Mr. Barkesdale nowe mayor payed a gylte pennye to this Cytie, to have one of his sonnes to be made free of this Cytie accordinge to the auncient custome heretofore used, which was graunted unto hym.

His eldest son Thomas Barkesdale was accordingly admitted free on 26 March 1591.

† John Barkesdale died later in 1591, and on 9 September that year an Associate was elected in his place.

His apprentice Thomas Bartlett was admitted free on 24 September 1596.

Barkesdale’s family
  • His son John Barkesdale became a chandler, and was buried at St Peter-in-the-East Church in 1606. John’s son Thomas was in turn admitted free in 1617.
  • The tanner Edward Barkesdale, who is believed to have built the smaller portion of the Old Palace in St Aldate’s, may be Barkesdale’s brother. He died in 1596.
  • Mr Thomas Barkesdale was buried at St Aldate’s Church in 1620: this may be his eldest son.

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 22 September, 2018

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