Oxford History: Mayors & Lord Mayors


Henry Toldervey (d. 1619)

Mayor of Oxford 1613/14

Henry Toldervey (or Tolldeberrye, and many other variants) was a yeoman, the son of a woman called Alice. He was admitted free as a Hanaster in the mayoral year 1572–3.

By 1562 Toldervey was the proprietor of a tennis court in St Peter-in-the-East parish. It lay in behind the Chapel at Smith Gate, to the south-west of Holywell Street.

Henry Toldervey and his wife had at least one daughter:

  • Anne Toldervey (baptised on 17 September 1577 at St Peter-in-the-East Church).

The Registrum Annalium Collegii Mertonensis records in detail a dispute between Henry Toldervey and Merton College in 1579. The passage, which is in Latin throughout, begins:

Oppugnantur oppidani in secta de Canditch in Hallywel
Ante unum vel alterum annum vidua Tollerbee unacum filio Henrico Tollerbee eisdem aedibus iuxta Smithgate ex eius oriente parte cohabitantes, oppidanorum non dubium iussu, includunt et muro luteo cingunt aliquam partem terrae nostrae de Hallywel iacetem in fossa vocata Candish, quo tandem illam duarum acrarum placeam villae appropriare possent.

Toldervey and his widowed mother Alice, who lived near the Smithgate at the top end of Catte Street (possibly already in the thirteenth-century octagonal chapel) had appropriated land that belonged to Merton College by surrounding two acres in the Canditch in Holywell parish with a wall of clay. The dispute went to court, and Toldervey was found guilty: “predictus Henricus Tolderby alias Tolderley est culpablis de transgressionibus infraspectis”.

Octagonal Chapel


Certainly in 1583 the city leased to Henry Toldervey and his mother the toctagonal chapel to use as a dwelling house. The shell of the chapel is now part of Hertford College, but the picture on the left shows it before its conversion.

Toldervey promised that within two years he would make the decayed chapel a house “with three flowers of good and substanciall tymber and cover the same with good slate or tyle with chymneys fitt for a dwelling house”.

Henceforth Toldervey lived in St Peter-in-the-East parish.

Toldervey was first elected on to the Common Council on 4 October 1583, paying a 3s 3d fine for not having served as Constable. In September 1591 he was granted the position of Chamberlain and Bailiff for £6 13s 4d.

On 26 November 1593 at St Peter-in-the-East Church, his daughter Anne Toldervey married Thomas French, M.A.

On 8 July 1596 a Mrs Toldervey was buried at St Peter-in-the-East Church: this was probably Toldervey’s mother Alice.

In September 1601 it was reported that Toldervey was to set out into the street the south wall of his tennis court by 2½ feet and the north wall by six inches, and to pay 6d a year to the Bailiffs as a languable.

In 1598 Toldervey was appointed Senior Bailiff, and in May 1602 he was elected on to the Mayor’s inner council, paying £5.

In October 1603 Toldervey was appointed a Keykeeper. On 18 May 1610 he was fined 4d for coming to a council meeting with his cloak instead of his gown.

In August 1612 Toldervey was appointed a deputy to Alderman Levinz, and in 1613 he was elected Mayor of Oxford (for 1613/14). He was allowed to nominate a member of the council to a bailiff’s place and selected Robert Myton, a decision “generallie well liked of and allowed”.

In August 1614 Toldervey was granted a renewal for 40 years of the lease by the Council of the former chapel where he was still living for a fine of £10.

Henry Toldervey died in 1619 and was buried at St Peter-in-the-East Church on 5 May. The lease of his house was renewed to his son-in-law Thomas French.

See also:

  • MS Wills Oxon W. I. 106.167; 66/1/22: Will of Henry Toldervey, gentleman of St Peter-in-the-East parish, proved in 1629 (ten years after his death).

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 3 October, 2018

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