Oxford History: Mayors & Lord Mayors


William Matthew (d. 1565)

Mayor of Oxford 1564/5

William Matthew (or Mathew/Mathewe) was Mayor of Abingdon before he became Mayor of Oxford.

He married the widow Mrs Mary Bridgeman (sister of Sir Thomas White, the founder of St John’s College): she was a leading Oxford figure with a properties in Reading that she had inherited from her first husband, the mercer John Bridgeman.

William Matthew was also a mercer, with a shop in All Saints parish. The Oxford city records state that on 10 March 1557/8:

Willyam Mathew, Mayre of Abyngdon, was admytted into the freedome of this Citie, and hathe compounded for Chamberlayne and Baylie and his fredom, xli.

William and his wife Mary jointly took on two apprentice mercers & upholsterers: Richard Hore of Marston (30 November 1560) and John Dewe of Wolvercote (Easter 1562).

William Matthew made swift progress through the council ranks: on 16 September 1562, just four and a half years after being admitted on to the council, he was one of the eight Mayor’s Assistants, and on 29 September 1564 he started his term as Mayor (for 1564/5). He died, however, the following February, just five months into his year of office

† William Matthew died in 1565. He requested in his will that he should be buried in the “Church of Allhollowes”, and was duly buried at All Saints’ Church on 27 February.

After a bequest to a Fellow of Brasenose College, he left the rest of his estate to his well-beloved wife Mary Matthew.

Mrs Mary Matthew

William Matthew’s widow continued trading as a mercer after his death: the first of her apprentices admitted free in 1570 (John Dewe, father of the mayor of the same name) had started his apprenticeship under her husband; but the business must have flourished under her management, as she took on thirteen apprentices of her own during her long second widowhood.

She died in about 1587 and charged her house in All Saints parish with 6s. 8d. a year, half for church repair, and half for repair.

See also:

  • Victoria County History of Oxfordshire, Volume IV: City of Oxford, facing page 220: painting of Mathew’s widow Mary
  • PCC Will PROB 11/48/192 (Will of William Mathew, proved 28 June 1565)

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 22 September, 2018

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