Oxford History: Mayors & Lord Mayors


William Bulcombe (d. 1519)

Mayor of Oxford 1503/4, 1507/8, 1509/10, 1516/17, and 1519

William Bulcombe (or Bulcom) was described as being “of Abingdon” in the 1490s, but by 1500 had come to live in Oxford. According to Twyne, “at the first squier bedell of the lawe, afterwards free of the towne; inkeeper and wollen-draper”.

Bulcombe was granted two virgates of land in North Hicksey called “Maries” and “Maries Close” near Botley by John Heynes of Hinksey in May 1495. Soon afterwards Heynes granted to Bulcombe of Abingdon and “Elizabeth his first wife” an annual rent of 53s 4d, to be levied on the principal mansion in North Hinksey and on the ferries between Hinksey and Oxford.

Bulcombe must still have been an esquire bedel in 1500, and was now evidently married to his second wife, Matilda, as in that year in the Chancellor’s Court he had to pay the security for a debt in February, and in May it was resolved that Dom John Belgrave, the canon of Osney, would pay 40s. to William Bulcombe and Matilda his wife (in equal instalments on 1 August and 1 November, with payment to be in money, or in wool or corn at market prices).

At some time after 1500 Bulcombe must have married his third and last wife, Mrs Maude Woodward, the widow of Edward Woodward.

By 1503 Bulcombe had become a freeman, as he was elected Mayor of Oxford in September 1503 (for 1503/4). He was elected again in 1507 (for 1507/8) and 1509 (for 1509/10).

He was also Justice of the Peace and an Alderman by 1511.

He was again elected Mayor in 1516, and also in March 1519, suggesting that the Mayor who had been elected in November 1518, Richard Millett, had resigned or died.

† Alderman William Bulcombe appears to have died just after his last period of office, probably in October 1519, and his will was proved in November 1519. He asked that he should be buried in St Martin's Church, before the image of St John the Baptist in the Chapel of Our Lady.

Anthony Wood says, however (probably wrongly) that he died on 4 October 1518. He was unable to read the inscription to Bulcombe in St Martin’s Church, and wrote:

I was forced to consult my obscure oracle [probably Miles Windsore], who in his notes written anno 1574, I find that the effect of it ran thus, viz. that wee were to

Pray for the soule of Willyam Bulcombe esquyre somtimes mayor of the towne of Oxenford, who married Maude the relict of Edward Wodeward, alderman of the same place; which William died the 4 of October an. 1518, being the 10 yeare of Henry VIII.

On 2 November 1510 another “Dominus John Bulcombe” was presented as Rector of St Ebbe’s, and he remained there until 2 March 1521/2.

See also:

  • PCC Will PROB 11/19/334 (Will of William Bulcombe of Oxford, proved 22 November 1519)

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 22 September, 2018

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