Oxford History: Mayors & Lord Mayors


Thomas Smith II (1601–1646)

Mayor of Oxford 1638/9 and 1643/4

Thomas Smith II (or Smyth or Smythe) was born in Oxford in 1601. He was the eldest son of Oliver Smith (three times Mayor of Oxford) and his first wife Anne Bussy; and grandson of Thomas Smith (four times Mayor). He was baptised at St Aldate’s Church on 11 December 1604, when he would have been three years old. His mother died in April 1609 when he was eight.

Thomas Smith started off his working life as a cook at Christ Church. On 13 January 1622/3, as soon as he reached the age of 21, Smith was admitted by the University as a brewer of ale and beer. The council granted a lease to “Thomas Smith eldest son of Oliver Smith” of Sidelings or Venneit in St Thomas’s parish, a property of the monastery of St Frideswide.

On 14 October 1622 at St Aldate's Church, Thomas Smith married Margaret Wilmot, the daughter and heir of John Wilmot, a baker of St Aldate’s. They had the following children:

  • Oliver Smith (born c.1624)
  • Christian Smith (baptised on 23 November 1626 at St Aldate’s Church;
    buried there on 18 May 1628)
  • Ann Smith (baptised on 13 January 1628/9 at St Aldate’s Church)
  • Thomas Smith (baptised on 30 May 1631 at St Aldate’s Church;
    buried there in 1642)
  • John Smith (baptised in 1633 at St Aldate’s Church;
    buried there in March 1658/9),
  • Francis Smith (baptised on 16 November 1635 at St Aldate’s Church)
  • Elizabeth Smith (baptised on 5 September 1638 at St Aldate’s Church)
  • William Smith (baptised in 1640 at St Aldate’s Church)
  • Thomas Smith (baptised on 22 November 1644 at St Aldate’s Church)

On 18 September 1626 Thomas Smith was admitted free and immediately given a Bailiff’s place on the council. In September 1631 he and his younger brother John served as Senior and Junior Bailiffs during their father’s final term as Mayor.

Bishop King’s Palace

Between 1622 and 1628 Thomas Smith built the main part of the building at 96–7 St Aldate’s (right), now known as “Bishop King’s Palace”. It cost the then huge sum of £1,300. The smaller portion had already been bought by the Smiths in 1621. It was one of the largest houses in the city: in 1665 the larger portion contained thirteen hearths, and the smaller nine.


When his father Oliver died in 1637, Thomas moved into his old house at 1–2 Brewer Street and sold the large portion of the Old Palace to Unton Croke, M.P. His younger brother John continued to live in the smaller portion.

In April 1637 Smith was elected one of the Thirteen, and in September 1638 was elected Mayor of Oxford for the first time (for 1638/9), nominating John Cosby as his Chamberlain. He was, however, accused by Archbishop Laud of gaining the mayoralty after a canvass of many days, during which the brewer had distributed large quantities of beer. The election was violent and drunken, and in the guildhall was a hogshead of wine, “in so much that they drank wine there in pails and kettles”. At the end of his year of office he nominated fellow brewer Walter Cave as his Child.

On 15 August 1642 Smith contributed 6 pounds of powder and three yards of match to the King’s cause. On 16 September that year, his house was searched by the Lord Lieutenant of Oxfordshire for munitions, arms, plate, and money, or scholars hidden there.

On 14 September 1643 Smith was elected an Alderman, taking the oaths and giving “Mr Painton a purse and three halfe pieces and tenne poundes to the City”. Just four days after this, Alderman Smith was elected Mayor a second time (for 1643/4).

Smith was Lieutenant-Colonel of the City Regiment, and in April 1644 he led this regiment out on Bullingdon and Cowley Green in the presence of King Charles I.

In October 1644 there was a serious fire in the neighbouring parish of St Ebbe’s, and Smith lost much of his business, rendering him almost bankrupt.

In May 1645 Smith was elected Commissioner for Barges.

† Thomas Smith II died on 20 April 1646 at his house in St Aldate’s (Wood describes him as being “of Slaying Lane”) when he was aged 42, and he was buried at St Aldate’s Church on 22 April.

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.

At the time of his death his youngest child, Thomas, was only about eighteen months old. His wife and son (probably Oliver) were forced to sell the family home.

Children of Thomas Smith
  • Oliver (c.1624–1667), according to Anthony Wood, was “commonlie called Oliver Smyth junior”. He was admitted on to the council in May 1662. He married Margaret, the daughter of Robert Bohun or Boon, deputy recorder of Oxon. He died at the age of 43 “aut eo circiter” at his house in Grandpont on Thursday 14 March 1666/7. His only daughter, aged about 15 when he died, married Henry Evans of New Inn, later curate at Twyford
  • Ann (baptised 13 January 1628/9) married George Wake. LL.D, Fellow of Magdalen College and Proctor of the University, afterwards master of the Hospital of Northampton
  • William (baptised 6 December 1640) was given a Chamberlain’s place on the Council on 2 November 1612

See also:

  • Thomas Smith I, Mayor in 1585/6, 1590/1, 1595/6, 1600/1 (his grandfather)
  • Oliver Smith, Mayor in 1619, 1624, and 1631 (his father)
  • John Smith, Mayor in 1639 (his brother)
  • MS Oxon Wills 307.91
  • Strangers in Oxford, pp. 122–123

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 20 November, 2020

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