Oxford History: Mayors & Lord Mayors


John White (c.1620–after 1667)

Mayor of Oxford 1664/5

John White was born in c.1620. He was the apprentice of an Oxford carpenter called Mawes, and although he became privileged three years into his apprenticeship, he continued to serve the remaining four years. When he sought his freedom on 8 August 1637, it was unanimously agreed by the council that “in respect Mr Mawe hath not contributed to the payment of such taxacons and payments as other men of his rancke and place have donne for many yeares last past but hath quite forsaken this Cittie and become a member of thother bodie”, either he or White should pay 40s. for White’s freedom. He was later described as a carpenter and brewer.

On 30 October 1645 White was appointed one of the council’s four Surveyors of Nuisances.

John White married Mary Weekes, the daughter of Alderman Thomas Weekes, and they had two sons, one of who was also called John, around the late 1640s. His wife died on 30 June 1658 and was buried in the north aisle of St Ebbe’s Church, adjoining the chancel. Anthony Wood wrote thus in his diary:

When Mr White’s wife, brewer in Oxon, was buried in S. Ebb’s church Oxon in the beginning of July 1658 – she being the daughter of alderman John Weekes, Oxon – these armes were upon her herse:- “blue on a cross ermine five fusils of the first, between four birds close argent”; name White; impaling “ermine, three battle-axes erect sable”; name Weekes. There was her mother’s also impaled with Weekes, vix. “sable, a chevron inter 3 mullets argent”. The abovsaid scotheon is hung over her grave in the said church.

John White was described as being “of Stanton St John” in the inscription that was put on her monument, “a great table against the north wall”.

In October 1658 White was elected on to the Common Council.

On 5 April 1660 his son John White junior, who had also been his apprentice, was admitted free. On 17 September 1661 the care of the three city fire engines was entrusted to John White, who with his two sons was to keep them in good order and “be alwayes in readinesse to play them upon all occasions”. For this task he was to be paid 20s. each Michaelmas.

The Commission of Charles II removed 31 persons from the Council in May 1662, and as a result on 6 June 1662 White was precipitated into the position of Mayor’s Assistant. He and the other three new Assistants promised to pay £15 each for their election.

On 6 February 1664 his apprentice Thomas Eliot was admitted free.

On 23 May 1664, White, now usually described as a brewer rather than a carpenter, was elected Commissioner for Barges and also an Alderman. He stated that he had taken the sacrament according to the rites of the Church of England within the last year, and then took the oaths of Allegiance and Supremacy upon the chequer table in the hall and subscribed to the engagement in the Corporation Act. He then took the oath of an alderman and gave the macebearer 20s. and a leather purse, and paid £10 for the City.

On 19 September 1664 Alderman John White was elected Mayor of Oxford (for 1664/5), with 347 votes against the brewer Francis Heywood’s 235. On 30 September 1664 the new Mayor took the three oaths, subscribed to the engagement in the Corporation Act, and paid £15 for entertainment plus £5. He chose Miles Chillmead as his Child and John Fletcher as his Chamberlain. During his term of office, on 2 January 1665, White was also elected Coroner. On Thursday 24 August 1665, near the end of his term of office, White rode the franchises.

In September 1665 Alderman White was appointed a Keykeeper for a year.

In 1665 John White paid tax on nine hearths in St Aldate’s parish, probably in Pennyfarthing (now Pembroke) Street. But the next year he moved to Westminster in London with his family. As a result, on 1 December 1667 it was agreed that he should be asked surrender his office of Coroner as he was unable to fulfil it, and on 4 March 1667 it was reported that he had sent in his resignation.

On 3 May 1667 it was agreed that the Town Clerk should tell Alderman White to come and live in the City and execute his office as Alderman on Midsummer Day, or else the City would remove him from his office and elect a new Alderman. He failed to come, and he was duly removed from his position as Alderman on 9 September 1667. On 9 October 1668 the council agreed to repay him, at his request, the £10 paid by him on admission as an Alderman.

† Alderman John White died after 1667, but no burial has been found.

A John White who could have been his son was doing carpentry work for the Council in 1675 and was their Surveyor of Nuisances until 1676. He was also paid for carpentry work at Carfax Conduit in the 1670s and on the Old Ashmolean Building in Broad Street in the early 1680s.

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 25 September, 2018

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