Oxford History: Mayors & Lord Mayors


John Sare (c.1580–1643)

Mayor of Oxford 1627/8 and 1634/5

John Sare (or Saer/Sayer/Sayre/Sawyer) was born in c.1580, the son of William Sare, a glover of High Wycombe.

His father was already dead when on 25 March 1593 John Sare was apprenticed for nine years to the Oxford chandler Thomas Huntfield or Huntsfield, with the promise of double apparel and 30s. at the end of his term.

Sare was admitted free on 17 July 1609 and was elected on to the Common Council on 29 September 1612.

John Sare married Miss Huntsfield, his master’s daughter, and on 12 August 1616 he was given a bailiff’s place, and granted a renewal of the lease formerly held by his father-in-law Thomas Huntsfield. His home and business were in the parish of St Michael at the Northgate, in a property to the south of the present 40 Cornmarket.

(Huntsfield must have retired in favour of his son-in-law, as he did not die for another five years: he was buried at St Michael-at-the-Northgate Church on 13 November 1621.)

In 1622 John Sare was elected Senior Bailiff.

On 22 June 1627 John Sare was elected on to the Mayor’s Council, and just three months later on 17 June 1627 he was elected Mayor of Oxford for the first time (for 1627/8). He requested that Robert Coke should have a place on the Common Council, and that John Allen should have a Bailiff’s place as his Child.

In October 1629 Sare was appointed a Keykeeper, by which date he was described as a “gentleman”.

Sare was elected Mayor again in 1633, but refused to serve, paying a fine of £10. On 10 January 1634 he was elected an Alderman (for the South West ward), paying £10, and on 9 September 1634 he was appointed one of a group of seven to oversee the cleaning of the rivers and waters of Oxford.

On 15 September 1634 first Alderman Boswell and then Alderman Sare refused to serve as Mayor, paying a fine of £10. But the Commons twice refused unanimously to have any other Mayor than Sare, and also refused to have any further election. So Sare had his fine refunded and served a second term as Mayor (for 1634/5), this time nominating Thomas Williams as his Child.

During Sare’s second mayoralty, the following incident occurred, as reported in the records of the council meeting of 20 October 1632:

At this councell Mr Mayor shewinge that John Tredwell and John Allen, late Bailiffes, havinge procured his Majesty’s writt of Exchequer, The said John Tredwell accompanied with a Bailiffe of very meane condicion in a very disgracefull manner when Mr Mayor and diverse of his friends of good accompt were at dynner, [did] enter his dyninge Roome and there seized of the city plate five and thirty pounds for the fee farme whereas there was but twenty pounds due to them, which Twenty pounds was formerly offered them; and that thereuppon Mr Mayor undertooke the paymente thereof in Obedience of his Majestie’s writt, and hath since paid the same.

It was agreed that Sare should be repaid and that action should be taken against the ex-bailiffs.

A new shambles had been built in Butcher Row (Queen Street) back in 1556, and it was forbidden to sell meat elsewhere, except on market days: but space was becoming scarce. On 7 December 1635 council records show that Sare, with the council’s approval, was willing to erect eight butchers’ shops in Butcher Row at a small rent to be fixed by the house. But this pleased neither town nor gown: on 15 April 1636 council records state that Sare was to have protection against any molestation, as some people intended to oppose the erection of this building; and the Vice-Chancellor of the University complained to the Chancellor that the intention appeared to be to move all the butchers there on market days. Sare took umbrage:

Uppon this Mr Alderman Sawyer, pretendinge that he meant it for ye publicke good of ye Butchers, tooke away ye frames againe, sayinge that he would make a Barne of them at Binsey where he had a farme. And this was an end of that matter.

On 12 August 1636 he is repaid by the council for expenses incurred in erecting the building in Butcher’s Row through having to ride to London twice “to answere the same before the Lords of his Majesties Counsell”, and for the waste of time.

On 29 August 1636 Sare, wearing scarlet and with footcloth and tippet, rode in a group to meet King Charles I.

On 4 March 1636 Sare was chosen as one of the Barge Commissioners, and on 21 April 1637 was elected Coroner.

In October 1642 Sare donated £10 towards the sum of £520 which the City presented to King Charles I when he came to the City after the Battle of Edgehill.

† Alderman John Sare died in 1643 and was buried at St Michael-at-the-Northgate Church on 17 August that year.

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 3 September, 2019

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