Oxford History: Mayors & Lord Mayors


Francis Greneway (c.1618–1686)

Mayor of Oxford 1670/1

Francis Greneway (or Greenaway/Greenway/Greeneway/Grenway/Grenwaye) was born in about 1618. He was apprenticed to the mercer William Boswell, and in about 1640 set up business as a milliner in his home parish of All Saints. Anthony Wood says that he was “the first of that trade in Oxon.”. Various members of his family were buried at the parish church, including his uncle Griffith Greneway in 1652.

On 19 September 1641 Greneway was chosen as Constable for All Saints; on 30 September 1642 he was elected on to the Common Council; and in September 1643 he was elected a Chamberlain and on 20 September 1647 Junior Bailiff.

On 8 August 1649 Greneway took on John Barrett as an apprentice mercer.

On 10 June 1656 at St Michael-at-the-Northgate Church, Francis Greneway (described as being of All Saints parish) married Mary Jackson (of St Mary the Virgin parish). Anthony Wood records that Mary was the daughter of the apothecary William Jackson, and sister of Samuel Jackson, a doctor of Physic and Student of Christ Church. Francis and Mary had five children, four of whom died in infancy:

  • Francis Greneway (baptised on 13 July 1657 at All Saints’ Church, buried there on 2 October 1661)
  • John Greneway (recorded in the All Saints register as having been born on 29 April 1659)
  • George Greneway (buried at All Saints’ Church on 26 March 1661)
  • Martha Greneway (baptised on 7 September 1662 at All Saints’ Church, buried there on 15 April 1663)
  • Elizabeth Greneway (baptised on 11 September 1666 at All Saints’ Church, buried there on 22 March 1666/7).

Anthony Wood records in his diary many purchases that he made at Greneway’s shop: in April 1657 he spent three shillings on three yards of ribbon; in July 1660 a shilling for a pair of gloves; in March 1662 6s. 8d. for a pair of worsted stockings of a pearl colour; in September 1663 1s. 2d. for a pair of green spectacles; and in January 1664/5 6d. for shoe buckles. Wood describes Greneway as a milliner as well as a mercer.

At some time after October 1658 Greneway must have been dismissed from the council, because at the first council meeting after the Restoration, held on 14 May 1660, the council agreed to readmit those who had been dismissed from the house by any other power, and Greneway promptly resumed his place in the house according to his seniority as one who had served as bailiff.

On 6 June 1662, following the removal from office of a number of people by the Commission for the Regulation of Corporations, Greneway was appointed one of the Mayor’s eight Assistants.

Greneway paid tax on eleven hearths in the North-East ward in 1665, probably at 10–12 Turl Street. On 28 November that year he was granted a licence to put out a sign of three golden lions outside his shop in All Saints parish.

Greneway was assessed as follows for poll tax at 10–12 Turl Street in March 1667:

  • For himself: £2 1s. 0d., comprising £1 for his title, poll tax of one shilling, and £1 tax on his money. (This indicates that his personal wealth was £100, as the tax on personal estate was £1 per £100.)
  • For his wife Mrs Mary Greneway: poll tax of one shilling
  • For his two children (presumably John and Elizabeth): poll tax of one shilling each
  • For his apprentice John Longford: poll tax of one shilling
  • For his servant Mary Jessop: three shillings (i.e. one shilling in the pound on her yearly wages of £2, plus poll tax of a shilling)
  • For Mr Gower, his gentleman lodger: £1 1s
  • For Thomas Butcher: poll tax of one shilling

On 19 September 1670 Greneway was elected Mayor of Oxford (for 1670/1), winning 471 votes against William Cornish’s 261. He took the three oaths and subscribed the declaration on 30 September 1670, but the election was not without controversy:

Att this counsell and eleccon there haveing bin a very greate disturbance made by some of the commons both to the hindering of the publique electing of officers and hissing att Mr. Mayor and the Magistrates and the whole counsell chamber to the greate disturbance of the government and contempt of the same.

The Mayor and aldermen undertook to find the ringleaders and punish them severely.

Greneway chose Samuel Bartlett as his Child and John Payne as his Chamberlain. During his year of office the Prince of Orange came to the city.

Samuel Jackson of Christ Church, Greneway’s brother-in-law, died in Greneway’s house in All Saints parish on 3 March 1674/5.

On 16 June 1684 Greneway was fined for not appearing at council.

† Francis Greneway died on 7 August 1686, and he was buried at St Mary-the-Virgin Church six days later. A stone in the floor in the south-west corner of the Church reads:

[Top line cut off]
AO DNI 1686

Greeneway stone

On 27 May 1687 the City Bellman, Robert Gardner, complained that Mrs Greneway had refused to pay his ancient and accustomed fee for attending as bellman at the funeral of her late husband, and it was agreed that the Recorder should pursue this debt. In 1697 she had to pay tax on eight windows in All Saints parish

See also: PCC Will PROB 11/384/324 (Will of Francis Greeneway, Milliner of Oxford, proved 14 September 1686)

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 20 September, 2018

Oxford Mayors home Small Shark Oxford History home