Oxford History: Mayors & Lord Mayors


Edmund Irish (d. 1556)

Mayor of Oxford 1543/4, 1544/5, 1550/1, 1554/5

Edmund Irish (or Irysshe/Iryshe/Jerishe) was an Oxford mercer, later a vintner.

He was first elected on to the Common Council in September 1522, and was appointed one of the two bailiffs in September 1527. On 19 November that year both bailiffs were imprisoned by the Commissary of the University for refusing three days earlier to summon in the Guildhall of Oxford a jury of 18 men “to make inquisition according to the King’s privileges” before the said Commissary in his role as Clerk of the Market. Irish (the senior bailiff) was sent to the Castle, and the junior bailiff to the Bocardo.

Edmund Irish married Mrs Margaret Cogan, the widowed daughter of Edward Woodward, but they had no children. On 8 April 1539 Irish and his wife Margaret were granted a lease by the Council of “voyd ground in the parish of St. Peter in the Baylye for 60 years, at an annual rent of 3s. 4d.

In 1540 Irish was elected an Alderman.

On 30 July 1542 Thomas Yonge, a gentleman of London, and his wife Veniera granted to Edmund Irish and his wife Margaret, “to have and to hold for ever”:

  • One capital message called “le Kyngs hedde”, and ten tenements, with 12¼ acres of meadow and 11 acres of arable land, in the village, suburbs, and fields of Oxford, which messauge called “le Kyngs hedde” is in Northgate way, the the parish of Saint Martin, between a tenement of St. Frysewyth College on the north and a tenement of New College on the south;
  • another tenement called “le Tavern howse”, lying in the way and parish arforesaid, between a tenement of Oseney on the south and a tenement of New College on the north;
  • two tenements lying together in the way of Westgate, in the parish of St. Martin, between a tenement of John Pye on the west and a tenement of New College on the east;
  • another tenement in the way of West gate, in the parish of St. Peter-le-Bailey, between a tenement of Richard Gunter on the west and a tenement of Oriel College on the east;
  • one tenement called le stone howse in Grampole, with other lands and tenements in the suburbs of Oxford.

Irish also held property near the Dolphin Inn in St Giles.

In November 1542 the City gave a bond to Alderman Irish relating to money he had lent the council.

On 4 November 1543 Edmund Irish paid a subsidy of 33s. 4d. in the North West Ward on goods worth £50.

In September 1543 Irish was elected Mayor of Oxford (for 1543/4) and was re-elected for a second term the following year (for 1544/5). On 1  November 1544 he was described as “brewer and mayor” when he took on John Hethe of Shrewsbury as his apprentice.

On 9 September 1546 Irish was one of three innholders who admitted that for some months they had been selling wine above the assise fixed by the Vice-Chancellor. They undertook in future to sell the ‘lagena’ of ’Gascoyn wine’, ’French wine’, and ‘secke’ for 12d.

In October 1547 Irish subscribed 2s. 8d., and in October 1548 3s. 4d., towards’s Dame Margaret Northern’s coffer.

In October 1548, when he was involved in a dispute over seniority with Alderman Richard Gunter, the council came out in Irish’s favour.

In September 1550 Irish was elected Mayor a third time (for 1550/1).

After the Roman Catholic Queen Mary came to the throne in 1553, Archbishop Cranmer, and Bishops Ridley and Latimer were summoned to Oxford to be examined for their alleged Protestant heresies. Ridley was moved from the Bocardo into custody at Irish’s house until the night before his martyrdom. Foxe describes Irish’s wife Margaret as “a great Papist”, but none the less she wept for Ridley.

In 1554 Irish was elected Mayor a fourth and last time.

† Edmund Irish died In 1556. He wished to be buried in St Martin’s Church, and asked in his will for the Rector and Fellows of Exeter College to “fetch me to church the day of my burial”. He left all his land and money to his wife Margaret, and made other small bequests, including a “cuppe of sylver” to each of his stepsons Edmund and Charles Cogan, and his dagger to Alderman Flexney, whom he appointed his Executor.

See also:

  • MS Wills Oxon 181.30
  • Foxe’s Book of Martyrs
  • Carl J. Hammer, ‘The Oxford Martyrs in Oxford: The Local History of their Confinements and their Keepers,’ Journal of Ecclesiastical History 50 (1999), pp. 240–42

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 30 September, 2018

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