Oxford History: Mayors & Lord Mayors


Richard Whittington (c.1506–1578)

Mayor of Oxford 1558/9 and 1566/7

Richard Whittington (or Whitington/Whittyngton/Whyttyngton/Whittingdon/Whittenton) came from Lancashire to be apprenticed to the Oxford mercer Thomas Blount and his wife Alice on Ascension Day in about the year 1520 for six years. At the end of his term he was promised 26s. 8d. and omnia sibi necessar’.

Between the years 1535 and 1577 Whittington together with his wife took on no fewer than eighteen apprentice mercers: John Otteley of Woodeaton (25 April 1535); William Hunt of Thame (24 June 1540); William Terewestle of Rutland (24 June 1546); Stephen Whittington of Abingdon (24 June 1546); Hugh Stevens of Leicestershire (17 November 1547); John Nevell of Islip (21 April 1549); Richard Morton of Yorkshire (29 September 1556); Brian Hodson of Yorkshire (29 September 1556); James Welling of Abingdon (24 June 1559); William Crede of Charlton (25 July 1559); Robert Scutter of Drayton (25 March 1560); William Wyldbloud of Shropshire (25 March 1562); John Whittington of Abingdon (25 December 1565); Michael Bonham of Buckinghamshire (11 April 1567); Henry Straker of Buckinghamshire (29 September 1569); Ambrose Fydler of Bletchingdon (25 March 1575); Robert Terewestall of the city of London (29 September 1575); and Richard Hadderton of Buckinghamshire (11 November 1577).

Anthony Wood wrote in his diary that “the house where Orum the fishmonger now lives (now — Paynton’s, Town Clerk) was once belonging to this Whittington, for in the windows of the parlour is painted a Whiting over a Tun, and R.W. by it”.

By 1535 Whittington was married, and his wife is first named as Ellen in apprenticeship records in 1559. Richard and Ellen (also known as Eleanora or Ellenor) had a daughter, Ursula Whittington.

Whittington was elected on to the Common Council on 29 September 1536, and was elected a Chamberlain in September 1539 and a Bailiff in September 1542.

He was based at either 2 or 3 High Street when on 4 November 1543 Richard Whittington paid a subsidy of 14s. 4d. in the North East Ward on goods worth £20.

In 1546 Anthony Wood records the following payment in connection with the destruction of Osney Abbey: “Item, to Whittington for singing-bread, for frankynsense, for girdles for albis, 6s. 7d.

On 26 April 1548 Whittington and three others were awarded the custody of the armour:

Md that … Rychard Whyttyngton … shall have the custody of xxiiij payer of harnes complete, wythe xxiiij sowards and xxiiij daggers, xij bowes and xij sheffs of arrowes, wythe vj other old payer of harnes; also that the foreseyd iiij men shall have yn ther custodye all suche money as ys gathered to that use onlye, to be yn a redynes at all tymes, yf nede requyer, to set forward the Towne sowdyars. And the seyd iiij men have receyvyd yn hand the some of xvijli ixs iiijd.

On September 1554 Whittington was elected one of the Mayor’s Assistants, and in 1556 was made an Alderman.

On 29 September 1558 Whittington was elected Mayor of Oxford (for 1558/9), and on 15 January 1559, he attended the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth I in the Mayor’s customary role of butler, presenting the following bill for reimbursement on 11 January:

Md that I Richard Whittyngton, Mayre of Oxford, made sute unto my lorde of Arundell for the office in the buttery the xj daye of January, 1558, for or liveryes and suche things as belonge to that office. Item, iij gownes and iiij cotes, one gowne for the Mayre, and two for ij Bayllies, and iiij cotes for foure men that he appoynted of the same Towne, besydes his servaunt and other that were wth hym at the tyme.

In 1566 Whittington was elected Mayor a second time (for 1566/7).

In September 1572 Whittington paid a contribution of 10 shillings to make up the Ship money.

In 1574/5 Whittington’s apprentice, Thomas Bonham, was admitted free.

† Alderman Richard Whittington died on 13 May 1578 and was buried in St Martin’s Church on 15 May.

His wife Eleanor Whittington was buried with him ten years later on 30 April 1588.

Anthony Wood described the monument to Richard & Eleanor Whittington in St Martin's Church thus:

Among severall monuments that are defaced, and their brass most sacrilegiously stolen away, must be remembred that which is partly lost of that somtimes noted citizen Richard Whittingdon, alderman, who dying the 13 of May 1579 was here buried two dayes after by his son-in-law Thomas Tatham [?Tatham had died in 1557]. His armes that were taken away were “a fess between three annulets” without colours; and the rebus of his name, which is to this day in an house where he formerly lived (inhabited now by a fishmonger) near Quatervois, is a fish called a whiting on a tun. Ellenor his widdow was buried here 30 Apr. 1588.

In 1896 St Martin's Church was demolished (apart from its tower), and all bones uncovered were transferred to an unknown communal grave in Holywell Cemetery.

Richard Whittington's daughter

Ursula Whittington first married Thomas Tatham, M.A. of Lincoln College (brother of John Tatham, later Rector of that college), and they had one daughter, Elizabeth Tatham, who married William Marten.

Ursula's husband Thomas Tatham died in 1557, and soon afterwards Ursula married William Levins, and they had eleven children.

See also:

  • MS Wills Oxon 185.544

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 30 September, 2018

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