Oxford History: Mayors & Lord Mayors


John Head (fl. 1500)

Mayor of Oxford 1499/1500, 1504/5, 1505/6, 1506/7, 1510/11, and 1517/18

John Head (or Hedde/Hede/Hed/Heed) was an Oxford brewer, supplying beer to the University.

In an undated draft Joan Skyrmot (the daughter of John Skyrmot junior, gentleman of Oxford) granted to John Head and his wife Thomisia Head all the brewing utensils in the brewery in St Peter-le-Bailey parish which they had lately acquired from the said Joan.

In 1489 the City leased to John & Thomisia Head a tenement lying on the south side of the West Gate, between Newmarket on the north and the land of the Grey Friars on the south. Head also held tenements in Northgate Street, and in 1495 he was granted a tenement in St Martin’s parish (on the site of the present 7 and 8 Queen Street).

Head was elected Bailiff on the council in 1481. In 1499 he was an arbitrator in the Chancellor’s Court, and in August that year he is described as an Alderman. The next month he was elected Mayor of Oxford for the first time (for 14/991500).

In September 1501 the poorer brewers of Oxford had complained that the fifteen-day rota favoured the richer ones, and the commissary (who was President of Magdalen) had proposed to introduce an eighteen-day rota: but this was violently opposed by Head and other brewers.

Head was elected Mayor again for 1504/5,1505/6, and 1506/7.

In 1505 Head and his wife Alice had the use of a brewhouse called Trill Mill Hall, and in 1508 the council approved a 30-year lease of Port Meadow to Head for £4 a year.

In 1510 he was elected Mayor of Oxford for the fifth time (for 1510/11). In August 1511 he was involved in a dispute concerning the election of an Alderman that was referred to arbitration.

By 1512 John Head was a Justice of the Peace.

John Head was elected Mayor of Oxford for the sixth and last time for 1517/18.

An undated draft shows that Head granted to John Wright and his wife Joan a messuage which was probably on the site of the present 14–16 Queen Street.

On 5 June 1520, when serving as Coroner, John Head held an inquest into the death of Hugh Todd, a watchman, who had been killed by scholars in a night-time town-and-gown skirmish.

† John Head died after 1520.

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 21 September, 2018

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