Oxford History: Mayors & Lord Mayors


John Bird (c.1580–after 1627)

Mayor of Oxford 1615/16

John Bird or Byrd was born in c 1580. He started trading as a mercer in Oxford mercer by 1600 and was admitted free on 9 March 1601.

In October 1602 he came on to the Common Council and was appointed a Keykeeper. On 20 June 1603 it was agreed that he should have “the room of a chamberlayne”, paying £5; and on 2 October 1605 that he should have a bailiff’s room for 40s (a reduced fee in view of the fact that he had very lately paid £3 for a chamberlain’s place).

In January 1607 Bird’s apprentice, John Colman, was admitted free “in respect he hath served seaven yeares as an apprentice with Mr John Bird, mercer, he being bound unto his said master before his said master was free of this cytie”.

In August 1613 his apprentice Thomas Pare was admitted free, and in July 1615 John Tew.

On 5 September 1609 John Bird was granted the lease of a shop by the council.

In October 1610 John Bird and Isaac Bartholomew were employed by the city concerning a dispute over a mill between the city and Merton College.

In 1611 there was a controversy between John Bird and William Boswell about the latter’s election as one of the Mayor’s Assistants. William Lord Knollys, High Steward of the City, was asked to adjudicate and came out in favour of Bird, who was duly elected an Assistant on 7 June.

In September 1615 John Bird was elected Mayor of Oxford (for 1615/16).

By 1616 John Bird had married a woman called Amy. They appear to have had at least one child, Michael Bird.

On 28 June 1616 John Bird, mercer, and Amy his wife were granted a lease by the Council of 30–33 Castle Street, described as a messuage in Bullock’s Lane, and also nother messuage to the west of the Castle drawbridge.

In August 1620 and August 1626 two more of Bird’s apprentices, John Pead and Richard Colton, were respectively admitted free. In 1620, Bird was then described as “gent.”.

Bird was still on the Mayor’s Council in 1626, but on 14 June 1627 a letter from the Recorder and Deputy Recorder of Oxford was read out to the council. This letter, dated 7 June 1627, was addressed to Bird and stated that, in view of the fact that he had left the city of Oxford and gone to London, he should resign his post as a member of the Mayor’s Council rather than that he should “suffer any record to remaine against him that he was expelled”. He accordingly resigned from the council.

† John Bird may have died in London, but his burial has not been found.

The son of John Bird

Michael Bird, a mercer in Cornmarket who took up his freedom in 1654, was described as the eldest son of John Bird, and also served on the council. He had two children baptised at St Michael's Church: Mary Bird (born 14 August, baptised 17 August 1671) and Thomas Bird (born 23 January, baptised 5 February 1671).
See H. E. Salter, Surveys and Tokens, pp. 383–4.

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 3 September, 2019

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