Oxford History: Mayors & Lord Mayors


William Bayly (1620–1683)

Mayor of Oxford 1666/7 and 1681/2

William Bayly (or Baylie/Bailey/Baley/Bayley/Baylye) was born in Oxford in 1620, the son of the white-baker Wiliam Bayly senior (who from 1611 to 1664 had also served on the council, but never rose higher than Bailiff). He had a younger brother Richard Bayly.

William Bayly was apprenticed first to the mercer William Harris, and then to Messrs Pawling and Potter, mercers, but was “never properly turned over as is the custom”, and on 10 September 1644 was eventually granted his freedom (as the second son of William Bayly senior) for 9s. 6d. and officers’ fees.

Bayly and his wife Mary had four daughters:

  • Elizabeth Bayly (but she is possibly Mary's child by an earlier marriage)
  • Alice Bayly
  • Mary Bayly (baptised on 28 October 1647 at St Michael-at-the-Northgate Church)
  • Sarah Bayly (baptised on 12 July 1655 at St Michael-at-the-Northgate Church).

William Bayly was elected on to the Common Council on 4 October 1647, and was appointed a Keykeeper the next year. On 1 October 1650 he was chosen as Mayor’s Child by Walter Cave, and was immediately awarded a Bailiff’s place.

On 21 March 1650/1 William Bayly, described as a mercer of St Michael’s parish, was granted a licence to hang out a sign showing a pestle and mortar. The Mortar & Pestle was probably on the site of 44 Cornmarket Street, where he had a tenement in 1653.

On 19 September 1653 Bayly was elected Senior Bailiff, and on 1 October 1660 one of the Mayor’s eight Assistants.

In August 1661 Bayly went out with the Mayor and senior councillors in a scarlet gown with footclothes and footmen to meet the King (Charles II) on his visit to the city.

Bayly’s apprentice John Payne was admitted free on 16 April 1661.

By 1665 Bayly had moved to St Martin's parish, where he paid tax on five hearths. This was on premises behind 52 and 53 Cornmarket.

On 2 March 1666 Bayly was chosen as one of the Aldermen, taking the usual oath and subscribing to the declaration, and giving the macebearer 20s. and a purse and £10 according to custom. On 17 September 1666 he was elected Mayor of Oxford (for 1666/7), and on 1 October he took the three oaths and subscribed to the engagement in the Corporations Act, paying the Keykeeper £13 for entertainment and £5 according to custom. He nominated the milliner John Bishop as his Child and Abraham White as his Chamberlain.

In March 1667, during his mayoral year, he was assessed for poll tax as follows:

  • For himself: £4 1s. 0d. (£1 for his title, poll tax of one shilling, and £3 tax on his money).
    This indicates that Bayly’s personal wealth was £300, as the tax on personal estate was £1 per £100.
  • For his wife “Mrs Mayris” [presumably “Mrs Mayoress”]: poll tax of one shilling
  • For his daughters Elizabeth, Alice, Mary, and Sarah Bayly: poll tax of one shilling each
  • For his apprentices Richard Keate and George Wickham: poll tax of one shilling each
  • For his servant Mary Pitte: three shillings (i.e. one shilling in the pound on her yearly wages of £2, plus poll tax of a shilling)

On 4 March 1667, while still Mayor, Bayly was chosen Coroner, and subscribed the declaration and took the three oaths: he remained coroner until 1 September 1673. On 14 September 1668 he was elected Commissioner for Barges.

On 7 October 1669 at St Andrew's Church, Holborn his daughter Mary Bayly married Thomas Rutton.

From 1677 it is specified that William Bayly was Alderman for the South-West ward.

On 19 September 1681 Bayly was again elected Mayor of Oxford (for 1681/2). He proposed Edward Spencer as his Child and Arthur Madle as his Chamberlain. In January 1682 he took a petition on behalf of the City to King Charles II.

† William Bayly died on 18 July 1683 at the age of 63 and was buried at St Martin’s Church, Carfax eight days later. His flat memorial stone (which was relaid in All Saints’ Church near the pulpit in 1896 when St Martin’s was demolished) read:

In hope of a joyful resurrection Here lieth enterred ye body of Wiliam Bayly, Alderman and
twice Mayor of this city, who dyed in ye 64 yeare of his age, July ye 18, Anno Dni. 1683.

In his will of June 1683 he made his wife Mary his chief heir and executrix, and left bequests to her and to his daughters Alice Bayly and Mary, now Mrs Rutton.

His wife Mary Bayly remained in the same house, where in 1696 she paid tax on twelve windows. She lived to the age of 89 and was buried at St Martin’s Church on 25 May 1702 (with the entry also recorded in the St Michael burial register).

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.

See also:

  • Wood MS. F 29 A, fol. 346 (epitaph of Bayly)
  • PCC Will PROB 11/374/336 (Will of William Bayly, Mercer of Oxford, proved 9 November 1683)
  • H. E. Salter, Surveys and Tokens, pp. 380–1, and tokens numbered 17 and 18, with “WILLIAM BALEY OF OXON” around an image of a mortar with two pestles on the obverse, and “AT THE MORTAR AND PEST” around the initials W.B. on the reverse

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 3 September, 2019

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