Oxford History: Mayors & Lord Mayors


Thomas Cooper (c.1593–1640)

Mayor of Oxford 1630/1

Thomas Cooper was born in c.1593. He was apprenticed to William Chillingworth, a mercer who was himself also to become Mayor. Thomas 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 & 142 High Street in St Martin’s (Carfax) parish.

Thomas Cooper had the following children, who both died in infancy:

  • Joan Cooper (baptised on 13 July 1623 at St Martin’s Church, buried there on 18 February 1623/4)
  • Thomas Cooper (bapised on 12 December 1624 at St Martin’s Church, 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 Thomas Cooper was appointed Keykeeper, and on 12 March 1630 he became 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 (for 1630/1). 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.

Several of Thomas Cooper's apprentice mercers 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 as Member of Parliament for Oxford in the Short Parliament of Charles I (along with Charles, Lord Howard), but this parliament only lasted from 13 April to 5 May 1640.

Just three months later he was dead.

† Alderman Thomas Cooper died on 11 August 1640, 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”. He mentions his wife Ursula Cooper in his will, but they do not appear to have had any children.

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:

  • PCC Will PROB 11/184/151 (Will of Thomas Cooper, Alderman of Oxford, proved 10 October 1640)
  • Biography not yet available on the History of Parliament website

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 24 November, 2019

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