Oxford History: Mayors & Lord Mayors


Edmund Bennett (d. 1602)

Mayor of Oxford 1582/3

Edmund Bennett (or Bennet/Benet/Benett/Beynit) was landlord of the Fleur de Luce (which was next-door-but-one to the Mermaid Tavern in St Martin’s parish) from at least 1580 to 1590. He may also have been a joiner.

It appears that his son died in 1562, as an Edmund Bennett, described as the son of Edmund Bennett, was buried at St Martin’s Church on 20 November that year. Nine months later, on 8 September 1563, Katherine, wife of Edmund Bennett, was also buried there.

Another Edmund Bennett was baptised at St Martin’s Church on 18 October 1574, and it seems likely that Bennett had married again and given his name to a new son.

Bennett paid 2s. 6d. towards the lottery in the South-West ward in April 1568. On 25 November the next year he and John Tysdale were granted the lease of Fitzharris Farm in Abingdon by the city council.

Bennett was elected Senior Bailiff on the Council on 29 September 1571. In the summer of 1574 his house was attacked at night by a gang of about fifty members of the University, as this article exhibited to the Privy Council by the City of Oxford relates:

Item, the seconde ryot or mysdemeanor was commytted by one John Bust, of Xpistes Church in Oxon., Mr of Arte, and his companye, beinge about ye nomeber of xl or l personnes, wth swords and bucklers, bills and clubs, all arayed wth weapons in warlicke sorte, contrary to ye Qenes Mats peace, and by great force and violence, with great peeces of tymber about xj or xij of the clocke at nyght, did ronne against and break downe the dore of the howse of one Edmonde Bennet, and entered his howse wth weapons, and put them in the howse in greate feare of their lives, havinge no just cawse nor auctorytye thereunto.

In 1576 Bennett and the painter John Wayte sued each other in the Mayor’s court

On 19 January 1579/80 Edmund Bennett was made an Alderman, and on 29 September 1582 he became Mayor (for 1582/3). On 29 March 1583 Ursula Almont, described as the wife of James Almont, came before Bennett, and confessed that she

untrulie and sclanderouslie had spoken certen words against the said Mr. Bennett, being Mayor, for the wch she was excommunycate before Mr. Doctor Loyd, and for the wch she then and theare openlie confessed herselfe to be hartelie sory, and desired hym to forgyve her, and promysed never hearafter to misuse hym in word or deede.

Bennett remained an Alderman until 1595. On 16 June that year it is minuted:

At this counsell Mr. Edmund Bennett, alderman of this citie (being nowe sicklie) hathe verie willinglie yelded uppe and resigned to this citie his roome and place of Aldermanship aforesaid; hit is therefore agreed that the said Mr. Bennet shall from henceforth have allowed him towards his relief weeklie during his lief one bushell of wheate from the Castle Mills; provided alwayes that he doe not at any time hereafter sell or doe away his interest in the said wheate nor otherwise graunt away the same nor any parcell thereof to any person or persons; but that the commoditie thereof shall remayne weeklie unto the said Mr. Bennett, to thend that it may comfort him in his later dayes.

On 15 July 1598 John Wood of Kidlington was apprenticed to a joiner called Edmund Bennett.

† Edmund Bennett died in 1602 and was buried at St Martin’s Church on 28 May.

Edmund Bennett junior, who was granted a licence to sell ale by the University on 11 January 1604/5, was probably Bennett’s son, given the same name as the Edmund who died. He may have been the Edmund Bennett, apprentice of the joiner William Bennett, who was admitted free in January 1598.

See also:

  • MS. Wills Oxon W. 191.301; 3/5/25

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 22 September, 2018

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