Oxford History: Mayors & Lord Mayors


Thomas Eustace (1639–1703)

Mayor of Oxford 1678/9

Thomas Eustace (or Ewstace/Eustas/Eusteres/Eusters/Ewstas) was born at Pyrton near Watlington in 1639 and baptised there on 22 November that year. He was the youngest son of Robert Eustace and his wife Mary, who had five other children baptised at the same church: Margerie Eustace (19 October 1623), Robert Eustace (baptised on 14 September 1625), Christian Eustace (30 October 1627), Sarah Eustace (7 April 1632), and Bridget Eustace (15 December 1634)

At the end of 1653, when he was fourteen, Eustace was apprenticed in Oxford to the milliner Thomas Williams (a fervent Anabaptist who himself became Mayor in 1653). Having served his seven-year apprenticeship in Williams’s shop (which was on the site of 120 High Street in All Saints parish), Eustace was admitted free on 20 December 1660, and soon after this he must have married Christian Wise. The following are all probably their children:

  • Ann Eustace (baptised on 15 February 1664 at All Saints’ Church)
  • Margaret Eustace (baptised on 26 April 1666 at All Saints’ Church;
    buried there on 22 October 1672)
  • Thomas Eustace (baptised on 5 February 1666/7 at All Saints’ Church;
    buried at St Mary-the-Virgin Church on 30 December 1670)
  • Rhoda Eustace (baptised on 15 October 1668 at All Saints’ Church)
  • Mary Eustace I (baptised on 6 December 1668 at All Saints’ Church;
    presumably died)
  • Elizabeth Eustace (baptised on 16 December 1670 at St Mary-the-Virgin Church;
    buried there on 18 December 1670)
  • Mary Eustace I (baptised on 25 March 1671 at All Saints’ Church)
  • William Eustace (baptised on 8 September 1673 at All Saints’ Church;
    buried there on 1 October 1673)
  • Mary Eustace II (baptised on 27 May 1675 at St Mary-the-Virgin Church).

On 30 September 1663 Eustace was selected as Mayor’s Child by the new mayor, John Harris, and was admitted as a Chamberlain, paying the usual fine of 3s. 4d. for not serving as Constable.

Eustace’s milliner’s shop was in All Saints parish, and on 7 February 1664/5 he obtained a licence to put out a sign of the Flying Hart and Crown there. In 1665 Eustace paid tax on two hearths in that parish, and at the time of the March 1667 poll tax Eustace is described as a gentleman and a milliner in All Saints parish. He was assessed as follows:

  • For himself: £1 1s. 0d.
  • For his wife: poll tax of one shilling
  • For his two children: poll tax of one shilling each
  • For his apprentice Samuel Bartlett: poll tax of one shilling
  • For Mrs Christian Wise, widow, his mother [in-law]: one pound (with a note in the margin that her poll tax of one shilling had been “paid in the country”)
  • For Elizabeth Wise her daughter: poll tax of one shilling.

On 13 September 1667 Eustace was appointed a cloth searcher; on 30 September 1670 a leather searcher; and on 18 September 1671 Senior Bailiff. On 15 September 1673 he was fined 1s. 6d. for not having attended the Mayor in his gown in church.

On 25 June 1669 his apprentice Samuel Bartlett was admitted free; on 11 April 1673 Richard Coates; and on 21 May 1675 William New.

On 7 July 1677 Eustace was elected one of the eight Mayor’s Assistants, taking the usual oaths and paying £5. On 22 October that year he rode to the Manor House at Woodstock with the Mayor and other officers to attend upon the High Steward George Duke of Buckinghamshire.

On 16 September 1678 Thomas Eustace was elected Mayor of Oxford (for 1678/9). He nominated George Walker as his Child and Michael Bird as his Chamberlain.

On 30 May 1681 it was agreed that Eustace, now serving again as a Mayor’s Assistant, should be one of the seven people to accompany the Mayor to London with an address to King Charles II.

On 26 June 1682 his apprentice Chilton Tubb was admitted free.

On 8 January 1684 Thomas Eustace was again included in a group to go to the King to try to get extra items added to the city’s new charter, including a Wednesday market in Gloucester Green and the incorporation of St Clements into the city.

On 6 October 1684 Eustace was chosen as one of the aldermen (for the North-West ward): he took his oaths on the chequer table, gave the Macebearer a purse and eight half-crowns, and charged himself with £10 according to custom.

Eustace was chosen as one of the six people to attend the Mayor at three Coronations: James II (23 April 1685), William & Mary (11 April 1689), and Anne (23 April 1702).

.On 9 July 1691, Alderman Eustace’s daughter Mary Eustace (described as being of All Saints parish) married Abel Gower at Wytham. According to Anthony Wood, Abel was aged 17 and a commoner of Merton College with an estate of £300 a year, while Mary was only 16. This is confirmed by Alumni Oxonienses, which states that Abel matriculated just four months before the wedding; and Mary was indeed baptised in 1675.

Between 1691 and 1694, Eustace appears to have moved from his small shop in All Saints parish to a larger one in the parish of St Mary the Virgin. Anthony Wood refers to the death of Jane Newlin (widow of Dr Robert Newlin, President of Corpus Christi College) in the house of “alderman Eustace in S. Marie’s parish” on 22 May 1694.

In 1696 Alderman Eustace paid window tax on twenty windows in the parish of St Mary the Virgin, and Oriel records show that this was The Swan.

On 12 September 1697 Alderman Eustace’s apprentice George Brickland was admitted free.

Christian Eustace, “wife of Mr Thomas, Alderman of St Mary’s Oxford” died near the end of 1702 and was buried back in his home village of Pyrton on 4 November that year. Her husband outlived her by less than five months.

† Alderman Thomas Eustace died in 1703, and on 19 March that year he was buried with his wife at Pyrton: the register reads “Alderman Thomas Eustace, living in St Marys Oxford”.

The other Thomas Eustace

There is another Thomas Eustace in Oxford at the same time as the above mayor. He was an apprentice of the Oxford cordwainer John Hudson, and was admitted free on 19 September 1653; ten years later he must have been struggling, because on 26 January 1663 he was one of four people chosen “to have Mrs Fulseye’s money”. (Jane Fulsey, who died in 1603, gave £40 to the city to be lent interest-free to four poor tradesmen for three years).

As so many of the Oxfordshire Eustaces are descended from the same Pyrton family, he is likely to have been related to the Mayor and may well be the Thomas Eustace, son of John and Mary, who was baptised at Pyrton on 22 April 1629. In 1667 this Thomas Eustace paid just two shillings poll tax for himself and his wife in All Saints parish.

In 1696 a “Mr Eustace” paid tax on nine windows in St Ebbe’s, and on 8 January 1699/1700 his apprentice cordwainer Thomas Bull was admitted free.

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 26 September, 2018

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