Oxford History: Mayors & Lord Mayors


Anthony Hall (1624–1675)

Mayor of Oxford 1673/4

Anthony Hall (or Halle) was born in Kirtlington in 1624. His entry in the baptismal register of the parish church reads: “Anthonye ye sonne of Antonye Hall was baptized ye last of October 1624”. He had no other siblings baptised there.

His father Anthony Hall senior died at Kirtlington in 1659, and Anthony junior came to Oxford in about 1661 to run the Mermaid Tavern (formerly the Swyndelstock) on the south-west corner of Carfax, bringing his mother with him. John Whicker, a London merchant, was granted a lease on this tavern in September 1654, and on 7 January 1664 the lease was taken over by his son-in-law John Whicker Moreton Esq of Northbrook. On 11 January 1664 Hall, who was already living on the premises, was granted a joint wine licence with Moreton, “that they may as one person sell wine in the corner Tavern in St Martin’s where Anthony Hall dwells, the property of the City, and in no other house, to be held for the life of the longest liver of them”.

Hall continued to live at the tavern and carry on the business for the rest of his life. He married a woman called Anne, and they had at least one child:

  • Anthony Hall junior (born before 1665)

In 1665 he paid Hearth Tax on eight fireplaces for the Mermaid in the South-West Ward and three in the North-West Ward, all in St Martin’s parish. The Mermaid was assessed as follows for poll tax in March 1667:

  • For Anthony Hall himself: £1 1s. 0d. (£1 for his title and poll tax of one shilling)
  • For his wife Mrs Anne Hall: poll tax of one shilling
  • For his son Anthony Hall: poll tax of one shilling
  • For Anne Hyorne, widow, and her children Anne and John Hyorne: poll tax of one shilling each
  • For his apprentices Robert Wordsworth, William Hopkins, and Timothy Taylor: poll tax of one shilling each
  • For Laurence Brittaine, journeyman: nine shillings (i.e. tax of eight shillings on his yearly wages of £8, plus poll tax of a shilling)
  • For his servant Mary Carter: two shillings (i.e. one shilling in the pound on her yearly wages of £1, plus poll tax of a shilling)

Hall was admitted free on 20 April 1665 for £10, and on 8 July that year he obtained from the City a second licence to sell wine. On 11 August he was licensed to be one of the three vintners in place of Judith Boddicott (widow of Humphrey Boddicott).

in September 1665 he was chosen by scrutiny to come on to the Common Council. In September 1666 he was elected Senior Bailiff.

The diarist Anthony Wood paid frequent visits to the Mermaid in Anthony Hall’s time, and on 21 December 1666 recorded that Anthony Hall was godfather to his nephew Christopher Wood.

In the mid-1660s Thomas Woods, a surgeon of London, assigned to Anthony Hall a reversion of the lease of the Tower in the city wall that stood on the site of the present Clarendon Building in Broad Street; and on 23 December 1667 Hall assigned his interest to the University for £100. In October 1669 Wood describes a meeting of the Delegacy for printing of books “in Hall’s house being northward of the schooles”.

In 1672 Robert Pawling was granted a licence under Charles II’s Declaration of Indulgence to hold Presbyterian services in the house of Anthony Hall in Oxford. Wood confirms that Hall’s house in St Ebbe’s was used as a Presbyterian meeting house from December, and this continued until 1715.

In December 1672 Hall was appointed one of the eight Assistants: he was sworn in on 10 January 1673, paying £10 in lieu of entertainment and £5. In September 1673 he was elected Mayor of Oxford (for 1673/4), appointing John Johnson as his Child. Anthony Wood describes how Hall’s election precipitated a town and gown skirmish:

15 Sept., munday, the election of Oxford maior; Anthony Hall, vintner, chosen. At which some yong scholars and servitors being present, heard his speech of thanks out of the balcony: — viz. that “he thanked them for their choice of him; that he could not speak French nor Spanish, but if they would walk to the Bear they should find that he could speak English” (meaning, give them English ale and beer). Hereupon the scholars hissed, but the towne’s men brooking it not, turned them out. Then the scholars made some resistance by flopping them on the cheek. After that, in the evening, they fought; and so they did on Tuesday and Wednesday in St Peter’s in the Baillive. Munday, a scholar of Brasenosse his arme broke, and another over his head. Began by servitors, and carried on by them, and commoners and townsmen of the meaner sort. This continued about a week; and would have lasted longer, had not the vicechancellor and proctors bestirred themslves for the appeasing of it.

On 20 July 1674 Hall renewed his wine licence with the Council for 24 years for a fine of £10.

† Anthony Hall died at the age of 51 in May 1675 and was buried at Kirtlington, with his burial also recorded in the register of St Martin's Church in Oxford. A monument on the wall on the outside of the south aisle of Kirtlington church records:

Neare this place lyes inter’d ye Body of Anthony Hall of ye City of Oxford Vintner sometime Major of that City. He was the Son of Anthony Hall of this Parrish and departed this life May the 11th in ye Yeare of our Lord 1675 Being Aged 51.

Hall’s wife Anne died at the Mermaid Inn three months after her husband and was buried at Kirtlington on 12 August 1675. Hall’s mother died in July 1677 and was buried at St Martin’s.

Anthony Hall’s son

Anthony Hall junior continued selling wine by retail under his father’s licence, and was granted a new one of his own for a fine of £150 in September 1687. He ran a music club at the Mermaid that attracted choristers, musicians, composers, and poets, and played the violin himself: a riddle entitled A Rebus upon Mr. Anthony Hall, who keeps the Mermaid Tavern in Oxford, and plays his part very well on the violin was set to music by the famous composer Henry Purcell. He and his wife had four children baptised at St Martin’s: Hannah (1678, died aged seven weeks); Anthony (10 August 1679); and twins William and John (buried four days after their birth).

Anthony Hall junior died young in 1691: Wood writes,”Oct. 22, Thursday Anthony Hall of the Meremaid died, aetat 35 of thereabouts: buried Oct. 24, S. in Carfax church. Died of dropsie, scurvy, etc.” In 1694 a new licence for the Mermaid was granted to John Moreton junior.

See also:

  • Memorial to Anthony Hall to the east of the porch of Kirtlington Church
  • “John Aubrey, William and Judith Dobson and the 8th Earl of Pembroke: The Provenance of William Dobson’s Executioner with John the Baptist’s Head”, Notes and Queries, Volume 49, Issue 3 (September 2002), 352–355: (about painting sold by Mrs Hall)
  • Ashmolean Museum: Trade tokens and wine bottles dating from the time of Anthony Hall and his son’s tenure of the Mermaid
  • H. E. Salter, Surveys and Tokens, pp. 405–6, and token numbered 46, with “ANTHONY HALL AT THE
    around an image of a mermaid between the latters A and H on the obverse, and
    IN OXON VINTNER” around the initials A.A.H. (= Anthony & Anne Hall) on the reverse

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 3 September, 2019

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