Oxford History: Mayors & Lord Mayors


John Pye (d. 1548)

Mayor of Oxford 1532/3, 1533/4, and 1547/8

John Pye (or Pey/Pie) was an Oxford butcher, but when he came on to the common council (consilium commune) on 8 October 1518 he was described as a yeoman.

On 6 October 1522 Pye came on to the Mayor’s inner council (consilium majoris). In 1523 a payment of four shillings was made to Pye by the council for his costs to Dover and back, when he accompanied twenty Oxford soldiers who were presumably destined to play their part in Henry VIII and Wolsey’s planned invasion of France.

On 29 September 1524 Pye was one of the two people who presented the new Mayor, John Austen, to the Barons of the Exchequer; he similarly presented William Fleming on 29 September 1527

Pye was elected Senior Bailiff on 29 September 1526 and an Alderman on 29 September 1528.

Pye is first described as a butcher in 1529; and his son, John Pye junior, was also described as a butcher on 16 September 1531 when he compounded for the office of Chamberlain on the council. On 29 September John Pye and his wife took on William Norrys of Oxford as an apprentice butcher, paying him a penny a year for seven years. (A John Pye and his wife took on William Wilkinson as an apprentice fishmonger on 24 June 1536, but it is unclear if this is the same couple.)

On 29 September 1532 (at the same time as John Pye junior was elected Junior Bailiff) John Pye was elected Mayor of Oxford for the first time (for 1532/3). On 30 November 1532 it was agreed that Pye should go up to London and deliver the submission of the Town to King Henry VIII. On 4 January 1532/3 he signed a joint letter of the University and the City for ending disputes between the two bodies.

Pye continued as Mayor in the subsequent year (1533/4), when (along with over twenty other tradesmen) he was discommoned by the University, to the effect that:

No schollar nor none of their servants should buy nor sell wth none of them, neither eat nor drink in their houses, under payne of for every time so doinge to forfeyt to ye Commissary 6s 8d….

Pye was elected an Alderman in 1534. In 1540 he and William Frere were granted the lease of the site of the Dominican friary for 21 years from 1540, but it was sold in 1544.

On 4 November 1543 John Pye paid a subsidy of 30s. in the North East Ward on goods worth £45.

On 21 February 1535/6 Richard Flexney left Pye 6s. 8d. in his will and made him one of his executors.

On 12 February 1540/1 Pye was appointed one of the City Arbitrators in the disputes between the city and the university.

On 4 November 1543 Pye paid thirty shillings towards the subsidy on goods worth £45. In that year Dr John London, the chief agent of the Dissolution in Oxford, asked that Pye might be given the Austin Friary, but the request was not granted. In 1540 he and William Frere became lessees of the Blackfriars and part of the Greyfriars.

Pye was elected Coroner in 1546, and Mayor a third time in 1547 (for 1547/8). He agreed to pay four shillings each year towards Dame Margaret Northern’s Coffer.

In 1544 Pye paid 33s. 4d. towards the subsidy on goods worth £50.

† Alderman John Pye died in 1548. He left bequests to his daughter Alice and her husband Nicholas Snell, and his brothers Michael and William Pye. He wished to be buried in St Peter-le-Bailey Church and bequeathed “a dublet of Crymson sattyn” to the Mayor’s Sergeant so that he might take “paynes at my Buryall” and fifteen shillings to the Bellman. Notwithstanding the fact that the Protestant Edward VI was on the throne, he made provision for masses to be said for his soul.

A Balliol College lease of 1550 relating to their property on the site of the present 33–35 Queen Street describes it as being “over against the tenement and brewhouse of Mr. Alderman Pye”, so it is likely that John Pye’s house in St Peter-le-Bailey parish was in Queen Street.

Other Pyes
  • A glover called John Pye paid five shillings towards the lay subsidy of 1524 (and his servant Richard Marsh 4d.)
  • In 1549 a Mrs Pye was on the roster of brewers in Oxford

See also:

  • MS Wills Oxon 179.313 (Will of John Pye, Alderman of Oxford)

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 30 September, 2018

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