Oxford History: Mayors & Lord Mayors


Thomas Cooper

Mayor of Oxford 1630/1

Thomas Cooper (c.1593–1640) was the apprentice of William Chillingworth, a mercer who was himself to become Mayor. Cooper was admitted free on 11 October 1614, and was eventually to take over Chillingworth’s shop, which was on the site of the present 141 and 142 High Street in St Martin’s (Carfax) parish.

Cooper had the following children:

  • Joan (baptised at St Martin’s Church on 13 July 1623, buried there on 18 February 1623/4)
  • Thomas (bapised at St Martin’s Church on 12 December 1624, buried there on 27 December 1624).

Cooper was admitted on the council and given a bailiff’s place on 18 September 1626. On 7 October 1628, just after the end of his year of office, it was agreed that he should go to London with Francis Harris, the other bailiff, to hear the decision of the judges concerning a writ.

In 1628 Cooper was appointed Keykeeper, and on 12 March 1630 one of the eight Assistants. The following September Alderman Smith, John Willmott, and Alderman Boswell all refused to act as Mayor, and Cooper was then elected to the position. He asked that Lewis Harris, son of the late Francis Harris, should be admitted free and have a bailiff’s place as Mayor’s Child.

On 8 November 1633 Cooper was granted permission by the council to sue a citizen privately out of the City Courts.

Various apprentices of Cooper were admitted free: Philip Seymour in September 1636, Walter Cave (probably long after his apprenticeship was over) in September 1639, and John Mayott (who had served only his first four years with Cooper) in December 1640.

On 19 July 1639 Cooper was granted one of the three city wine licences.

On 9 December 1640 Cooper was elected an alderman, taking the oaths and paying £10. On 3 March 1640 he was elected to the Short Parliament of Charles I (along with Charles, Lord Howard), but this parliament only lasted from 13 April to 5 May 1640.

Just four months later, on 11 August 1640, he died. He was buried at St Martin’s Church at Carfax on 13 August 1640: his entry in the register reads “Mr Thomas Cooper, sometime Maior of this citie and Burgess of the Parliament for this citie, and then Alderman”.

When St Martin’s church was demolished in 1896, Cooper’s bones were transferred with the rest to an unknown communal grave in Holywell Cemetery.

See also:

  • PCC Will PROB 11/184 (Will of Thomas Cooper, Alderman of Oxford, proved 10 October 1640)

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 11 September, 2012

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