Oxford History: Mayors & Lord Mayors


Walter Payne (c.1555–1619)

Mayor of Oxford 1607/8 and 1617/18

Walter Payne (or Paine) was born in c.1555, the son of John Payne of Gloucester.

On 29 September 1569 Walter Payne was apprenticed for seven years to the Oxford shoemaker William Aldworth, with the promise at the end of the term of double apparel and 20s.

He duly became a shoemaker himself, and took on nine apprentices between 1580 and 1594: Thomas Coxe of Worcestershire (22 May 1580); Robert Shepard of Eynsham (29 September 1584); William Shreve of Sunningwell (24 February 1585); Jerome Dey of Wolvercote (29 September 1585); Nicholas Hill of Oxford (2 February 1586); John Wyndar of Newbury (26 May 1588); John Mills of Gloucestershire (29 September 1588); Richard Jones of Oxford (29 September 1592); and Robert Watts of Hook Norton (19 May 1594).

As a shoemaker, Payne was well placed to be one of the council’s scrutators of leather, a post he held for twenty years from 1583 to 1603.

Payne was elected on to the Common Council on 7 April 1587, and gained a Chamberlain’s place in October 1591. In September 1594 he was appointed Junior Bailiff.

In June 1595 Payne, who was now primarily an inn-holder rather than a shoemaker, was granted a licence to sell wine, paying a fee of 40s. Anthony Wood mistakenly describes him as a “chandler (afterwards innholder)”.

In September 1597 his apprentice cordwainer, Thomas Coxe, was admitted free.

In October 1603 Payne was elected on to the Mayor’s Council

In June 1604 the council granted permission for Payne to mound in a piece of waste ground next to the highway leading to Brokenhayes on the south, paying 2s a year and maintaining a footway there at his own charge. It was about this time that he surrendered his wine licence.

In September 1607 Walter Payne was elected Mayor of Oxford (for 1607/8), and he requested that the mercer Edmund Clay should be made free. During his year of office there was an outbreak of plague in Oxford.

In July 1611 Payne was elected an Alderman.

In September 1617 Payne was elected Mayor a second time (for 1617/18). Twyne noted:

This yere, 1618, the towne went about to procure a newe charter, wherein this Walter Payne was declared to be “primus et modernus civitatis Oxon. maior”, and the aldermen then beinge to be “primos et modernos ejusdem civitatis aldermannos” — which was very absurd in my opinion.

† Walter Payne died in 1619, just a year after serving as Mayor, and was buried at St Martin’s Church at Carfax on 23 December that year.

In his will he left the rental of 6s 8d a year from 12 Cornmarket for the repair of the constables’ staves and the property that he leased from the council at 25–29 Castle Street to John Payne.

His widow, Mrs Joan Payne, married John Dewe at St Martin’s Church on 14 April 1623, but she died within a year and was buried there on 23 March 1623/4.

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 11/135/588 (Will of Walter Payne, Alderman of Oxford, proved 24 May 1620)

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 24 November, 2019

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