Oxford History: Mayors & Lord Mayors


John Smith (1608/9–1657)

Mayor of Oxford 1639/40

John Smith or Smyth or Smythe was baptised on 23 February 1608/9 at St Aldate’s Church. He was the third son of Oliver Smith (three times Mayor of Oxford) and his first wife Anne Bussey. He was also the grandson of Thomas Smith (four times Mayor), and younger brother of Thomas Smith II (twice Mayor).

On 14 October 1627 at St Aldate’s Church, John Smith married Elizabeth Bosworth (daughter of Henry Bosworth, another brewer and former mayor). They had the following children::

  • Christian Smith (born in c.1629)
  • Charles Smith (baptised on 12 August 1633 at St Aldate’s Church and buried there a few weeks later)
  • Henry Smith (baptised on 4 March 1637/8 at St Aldate’s Church)
  • Alice Smith (baptised on 5 January 1641/2 at St Aldate’s Church)
  • John Smith (born in c.1645)
  • .Mary Smith (born in c.1650).

Their home was on the west side of St Aldate’s Street, just to the south of the present Speedwell Street.

On 12 March 1630 the Mayor, Henry Southam, requested that John Smith be admitted to a bailiff’s place as his Child, and in September 1631 he was appointed Junior Bailiff, with his older brother as Senior Bailiff.

In September 1639, when only 31, Smith was elected Mayor of Oxford (for 1639/40), appointing Abel Parne as his Chamberlain. Unusually, he does not appear to have served on the Mayor’s Council prior to this appointment, but he did go on to it after serving his year as Mayor.

In October 1640 Smith was put forward for election as one of the two Members of Parliament for Oxford, but was beaten by Viscount Andover. The next month, however, Andover became Baron Howard of Charleton, and John Smith was chosen as Member of Parliament in his place by general consent in the Guildhall. He sat in the King’s Parliament at Oxford.

On 15 August 1642 Smith contributed 6 pounds of powder and 2 yards of match for the King’s cause.

In September 1646 Smith was fined 4d. for coming to the council in his cloak. In December that year, he ceased to be a Member of Parliament, and in 1648 he was turned out of his place on the Mayor’s Council by ordinance of Parliament, presumably for being too Royalist.

† John Smith died at the age of 49 on 4 November 1657 and was buried at St Aldate’s Church on 7 November. Anthony Wood records the death thus in his diary:

1657 November: John Smyth, sometimes alderman and mayor of Oxon, and a member of the long parliament held at Westminster 3 Nov. 1640, died., W., 4 Nov. 1657 and was buried by his ancestors in S. Aldate’s church; son of Oliver Smyth alderman.— He married [note in margin: 14 Oct. 1627] Elizabeth daughter and heire of Henry Bosworth of St Giles parish in Oxon, brewer, by Alice his wife (daughter of … Martin, whose armes — viz. Martin’s — are falsly impaled here). Shee died at her house in Magd. parish, F., Sept. 5, 1573; and was buried by [i.e. beside] her husband in S. Aldate’s church. Her chief executor was Henry Smyth, her eldest sone surviving, mr. of Arts and student of Xt. Church, now D.D. and canon of the same.

His wife Elizabeth Smith died on 6 September 1673.

Anthony Wood states that the graves of the Smiths were at the upper end of the body of St Aldate's Church, under the north wall.

Children of John Smith
  • Christian Smith (c.1629–1656), who married William Wright (mayor of Oxford in 1656 and 1667) at St Aldate’s Church in 1646 was the mother of Alice (1647–1694), Christian (1649–1650), and William (1652–1721). Alice Wright married Charles Harris, son of John Harris (mayor in 1663), while William William Wright became the Recorder of Oxford: he had seven surviving children when he died.
  • Henry Smith (b.1638) became a Canon at Christ Church in February 1676.
  • Alice Smith (1642–1672) married Richard Holloway of St Aldate’s parish. Their children were John (1661), Richard (1663–1681, student of Christ Church, buried in the cathedral); Mary (1664, died same year); Henry (1666); Mary (1668, died the same year; Peter (1669); and Elizabeth (1671). Mrs Alice Holloway died on 7 September 1672
  • John Smith (d.1671) of Kennington in Berkshire. He married Katherine, daughter of Thomas Blagrave of St Ebbe’s parish, and they had just one daughter, Elizabeth (d.1669). He died in his house near Bullock’s (Bulwark’s) Lane, Oxford on 16 December 1671.
  • Mary Smith (born c.1650) married William Turner, D.D. (a Fellow of Trinity who lived in St Giles’) on 12 February 1676/7 at Christ Church

See also:

  • Thomas Smith I, Mayor of Oxford in 1585/6, 1590/1, 1595/6, and 1600/1 (his grandfather)
  • Oliver Smith, Mayor of Oxford in 1619/20, 1624/5, and 1631/2 (his father)
  • Thomas Smith II, Mayor of Oxford in 1638 and 1643 (his brother)
  • PCC Will PROB 11/270/301 (Will of John Smith of Oxford, proved 25 November 1657)
  • Strangers in Oxford, pp. 142–143
  • Biography not yet available on the History of Parliament website

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 21 September, 2018

Oxford Mayors home Small Shark Oxford History home