Oxford History: Mayors & Lord Mayors


Matthew Langley (c.1610–c.1668)

Mayor of Oxford 1651/2

Matthew Langley was born in Oxford in c.1610, the son of Matthew Langley senior, an Oxford tanner who had been admitted free in 1599 and who himself served on the council from 1619.

Matthew Langley junior also became a tanner. On 2 October 1635 he was chosen to fill a vacancy on the common council, but it was immediately discovered that he was not a freeman, and a new election took place.

On 1 June 1638 the council decided to sue Langley for trading in Oxford when he was neither free nor privileged, but he must have gained his freedom soon afterwards, because on 2 October 1641 he was elected on to the Common Council and was admitted six days later, paying the usual fine of 3s. 4d. to avoid serving as Constable.

On 30 September 1643 Langley was appointed a Keykeeper, and a year later he was given a Bailiff’s place on payment of £5. On 14 September 1646 he was elected Junior Bailiff, and the next month was nominated one of the Moneymasters. In October 1647 he continued for a further year as Junior Bailiff by an order of the House of Commons.

Langley lived on the east side of St Aldate’s Street, about half way between the present Floyd’s Row and Folly Bridge. The parish registers for St Aldate’s are missing during this period.

Langley progressed quickly through the council ranks following further purges by the House of Commons, and on 12 September 1648 he was elected one of the eight Assistants, and was sworn in immediately, paying his £5. On 15 September 1651 Langley was elected Mayor of Oxford (for 1651/2), choosing the ale-brewer Richard Carter as his Child and John Sheene as his Chamberlain.

Langley’s council career closely followed that of the fellmonger Richard Miller, and they may have been partners. On 21 September 1655 Langley and Miller were given a council lease of part of Cripley in St Thomas parish for 21 years and 2 years respectively at a rent of fifty shillings and 13s. 4d. On 1 October that year his apprentice, William Egby, was admitted free.

On 21 August 1660 Langley was granted a new council lease of his three tenements outside the North Gate in St Michael’s parish, including the Three Goats’ Heads at 32 Cornmarket Street, for a fine of £60. This property had been leased to his father back in 1623. He was also granted a renewal of the 1630 lease to his father of Nos. 7–9 Paradise Street (“three cottages without the West Gate”).

Ib 1665 Langley paid tax on nine hearths in St Aldate’s parish.

At the restoration of Charles II in 1660 it was agreed that Langley could keep his place as an Assistant, despite the fact that he had gained it as a result of a purge, because he had served as Mayor. On 16 August 1661 he went out with the Mayor and other senior councillors in a scarlet gown with footclothes and footmen to meet the King in his visit to the city.

In June 1662, however, Langley was removed from the Council under the Corporation Act of 1661 because of his parliamentary leanings.

† Matthew Langley appears to have died in about 1668.

The other Matthew Langley

A child called Matthew Langley, son of William Langley, was baptised at St Michael's Church on 15 July 1616.

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 28 September, 2018

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