Oxford History: Mayors & Lord Mayors


Thomas Sellar (c.1649–1729)

Mayor of Oxford 1703/4 and 1709/10

Thomas Sellar (or Selwood/Sellwood) was born in c.1649. He was apprenticed to the Oxford tailor Abel Bayley, and was admitted free on 30 May 1670. He became a tailor in St Peter-in-the-East parish.

Thomas Sellar and his wife Grace had the following children, all recorded with the surname spelt Selwood except the first:

  • Anne Sellar (baptised on 26 December 1680 at St Peter-in-the-East Church)
  • Mary Selwood (baptised on 22 July 1683 at St Peter-in-the-East Church)
  • Grace Selwood (baptised on 8 September 1687 at St Peter-in-the-East Church)
  • William Selwood (baptised on 24 March 1688/9 at St Peter-in-the-East Church)
  • Elizabeth Selwood (baptised on 21 September 1690 at St Peter-in-the-East Church).

Thomas Sellar was first elected to the Common Council in 1687.

On 19 September 1690 his apprentice Robert Brocks was admitted free.

Sellar was chosen Mayor’s Chamberlain in 1694, but refused to accept the office; after paying a fine of £15, he was given a Bailiff’s place, and became Junior Bailiff the next year.

In 1696 Sellar paid tax on ten windows in St Peter-in-the-East parish on a property on the site of the present Hertford College.

On 13 May 1698 his apprentice Philip Simms was admitted free.

In 1700 Sellar was chosen one of the Mayor’s eight Assistants.

In June 1701 Sellar took on Edward Major as an apprentice tailor, but he was transferred to another tailor in March 1702/3.

In 1702 Sellar was “discommoned” with three others by the University of Oxford for alleged misbehaviour and violence against the Duke of Somerset at the Eastgate. The council voted to defend them at the City’s expense, and eventually the University gave the four men

“full liberty of tradeing and contracting with its members, upon Condition yt the City do by some Act (which may to posterity appear to be an Act of their corporation) own yt the University have a right of precedency in all publick processions, and of goeing next to the Person of ye King or Queen or any of ye Royall family whensoever they make any Publick entrance into this University and City.”

On 20 September 1703 Sellar was elected Mayor of Oxford (for 1703/4), giving Oliver Jones a Bailiff’s place as his Child. After his term of office he resumed the position of Mayor’s Assistant, and became a Keykeeper in 1708.

On 19 September 1709 Sellar was elected Mayor of Oxford for a second time (for 1709/10), choosing Robert Neale as his Chamberlain and Edward Prince as his Child. Again he went back to being an Assistant.

His wife Mrs Grace Sellar was buried on 4 August 1717 at St Peter-in-the-East Church.

On 27 January 1718 Sellar was fined a shilling for coming to Council without his gown.

† Thomas Sellar was buried at St Peter-in-the-East Church on 10 January 1718/19.

In his will he mentions his married daughters Anne Fortry, Mary Williams, and Elizabeth Barrowby and his son William Sellar.

See also:

  • Malcolm Graham, Oxford City Apprentices 1697–1800, entry numbered 190
  • PCC Will PROB 11/567/245 (Will of Thomas Sellar of Oxford, proved 4 February 1719), transcribed here

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 29 September, 2018

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