Oxford History: Mayors & Lord Mayors


Sir Sampson White (1606–1684)

Mayor of Oxford 1660/1 and 1665/6

Sampson White (or Whyte) was born at Cogges near Witney in 1606, the son of John White and his wife (née King). Anthony Wood says that his name “hath continued time out of mind” at Cogges, and that he had “a brother named John White of Northley; another brother Richard White, vicar of Basingstoke who married Elizabeth daughter of Charles Butler vicar of Wotton St Laurence; and lastly, Henry White of Coggs who died coelebs and left Sir Sampson White’s son … his heire.”

Wood continues: “These Whites are descended from the Whites of S. Warnborough in Hampshire. The original of the Whites of Oxfordshire was steward or baylive of Einsham abbey.”

On 10 August 1635 at Wootton St Lawrence, Hampshire, Sampson White married Marie or Mary Soper, daughter of Richard Soper of East Oakley in Hampshire. They had seven sons and four daughters, including:

  • John White (eldest son: possibly born in Hampshire, and may be by an earlier wife)
  • Mary White I (baptised on 11 March 1640/1 at St Peter-in-the-East Church, buried there on 19 March 1640/1)
  • Unnamed child (described as “child of Sampson” when buried at St Peter-in-the-East Church on 4 October 1641)
  • Mary White II (almost certainly the unnamed “child of Sampson” who was baptised on 9 October 1642 at St Peter-in-the-East Church)
  • Anne White (baptised on 13 May 1646 at St Peter-in-the-East Church)
  • Richard White (baptised on 29 August 1647 at St Peter-in-the-East Church, buried at St Mary-the-Virgin Church on 28 July 1670)
  • Henry White (second surviving son, baptised at St Peter-in-the-East Church on 29 December 1648)
  • Gilbert White (third surviving son, baptised at St Peter-in-the-East Church on 20 February 1650/1)
  • George White (baptised on 20 February 1650/1 at St Peter-in-the-East Church, the same day as Gilbert: possibly his twin)
  • Francis White (must have been born in c.1652, as he was matriculated at the age of 15 in December 1667)

By early 1641 they were living in Oxford, first in the parish of St Peter-in-the-East (until at least 1653) and then (by 1665 and right up to Sampson Whites death in 1684) in the parish of St Mary the Virgin. White was a draper, and both his shops were in the High Street: the first one was to the east of University College, while his second was on the site of the present Warden’s Lodgings of All Souls College (opposite University College).

Sampson White served his year as Constable for the North-East ward in 1635/6, and came on to the Common Council immediately afterwards on 3 October 1636. On 2 October 1641 he was appointed Mayor’s Child (with a Bailiff’s place) by the new Mayor, Leonard Bowman (another Witney man who had moved to the parish of St Mary the Virgin). He was duly elected Junior Bailiff at the end of the mayoral year on 19 September 1642.

In 1643 White contributed £3 towards the money presented to King Charles I when he came to Oxford after the Battle of Edgehill.

In October 1644 White was appointed one of the two Moneymasters, and in 1646 a Searcher of Cloth, a position he held again in 1647/8.

White then disappears from council records, having been (to use Anthony Wood’s words), “turn’d out of the councell house for his loyalty”. Wood also mentions that in May 1651 Sir Leoline Jenkins “removed with his scholars to Oxford where they sojourned in Sampson White’s house against Univ. Coll in the parish of S. Peter East”.

White was readmitted on to the council at the time of the Restoration on 14 May 1660 along with others who had been dismissed from the house. Just five months later, he was elected one of the eight Assistants and then Mayor (for 1660/1) on the same day. He selected the goldsmith Daniel Porter as his Child and Thomas Combes as his Chamberlain. He delayed swearing the mayor’s oath to the University on St Scholastica’s Day, as Anthony Wood reports in December 1660:

Mr Sampson White, mayor of Oxford, had severall peremptory summons since Michaelmas last (at which time he came into his office) that he, the two bayliffs, and usuall number of citizens should appeare in S. Marie’s church and there to take the accustomed oath to observe and keep all manner of lawfull liberties and customes of the University of Oxford: but they did not come, as they had not for 10 or 12 yeares before.

Dec. 20, Th., 1660, they were summoned againe; but consulting among themselves, they sent word to the vicechancellor that they desired a freindly meeting with the vicechancellor and the University about the premisses. Which message being delivered, Monday the 7 Jan. 1663/4 was appointed a meeting day.

The council secured an agreement with the University, and White took his oath.

On 23 April 1661 Sampson White attend the Coronation of Charles II at Westminster, “serveing his Majestie in his Bottelary”, and was as a consequence knighted. He was attended by two men in livery, and assisted by six other citizens (each attended by one man). He was presented with a silver gilt Coronation cup inscribed:

Donum Regale Domini Nostri Caroli Secundi [D.G. Angliae etc] Regis Augustissimi Coronationis festo in Botelaria servienti Sampsoni White, Milito, Civitatis Oxonford Majori, subdito flagrante rebellione fidelissimo

[A royal gift to Sampson White, Knight, Mayor of the City of Oxford, and most faithful of subjects when rebellion raged, for serving in the Butlery at the Coronation feast of our most venerable King, Lord Charles II, [by the Grace of God King of England etc.].]

In August 1661, when King Charles II came to the City, Sir Sampson rode out to meet him in his scarlet gown and tippet with a footman and footcloth, heading a parade of local dignitaries.

Near the end of his first mayoral term, Sir Sampson received the Chancellor of the University (Sir Edmund Hyde) and presented him with a pair of white gloves.

In January 1662 Sir Sampson was reimbursed by the City with £4 10s for a barrel of powder which he delivered for the use of the City. In October 1664 he was appointed a Justice of the Peace, and in January 1665 an Alderman for the South East ward.

On 17 June 1664 at St Mary-the-Virgin Church, his daughter Mary White married the draper Edward Potter (younger son of Dr Christopher Potter, former Provost of The Queen’s College) of St Laurence Lane, London. She died on 10 July 1676 at the age of 32, and was buried with her seven children who had all predeceased her at St Peter-in-the-East Church.

In 1665 White paid tax on eight hearths at Ing Hall, (on the site of the present Warden’s House, All Souls College, at 32 High Street) in St Mary the Virgin parish. He was assessed as follows for poll tax there in March 1667:

  • For himself: £10 1s. 0d. (£10 for his title plus poll tax of one shilling)
  • For his Lady: poll tax of one shilling
  • For John White £5 1s. 0d. (£5 tax on his money, plus poll tax of one shilling)
  • For Mr Richard White (his younger son): poll tax of one shilling
  • For his servant Anne Richardson: four shillings (i.e. one shilling in the pound on her yearly wages of £3, plus poll tax of a shilling)
  • For Elizabeth Winkworth: poll tax of one shilling

On 18  September 1665 Sir Sampson was appointed Mayor a second time (for 1665/6): he offered a fine of £10 to be excused office, but it was refused at this time of “weighty causes” (including the sojourn of King Charles II at Oxford from September 1665 to January 1666, and the Plague, which had just arrived at Oxford). Sir Sampson therefore took the mayoral oaths and subscribed to the declaration on 30 September 1665, appointing John Barrett as his Child and the confectioner Thomas Adams as his Chamberlain.

In 1666 the Keykeepers’ accounts show Sir Sampson’s reimbursement by the City for the Coronation cup:

Paid to Sir Sampson White, late Mayor, the Summe of £27 in full of soe much disbursed by him for this Cittie for fees and gratuities in the obteyning of his Majesties Royall Bowle given to the body of this Citie for his and their service at his Royall Coronacon, which Bowle is to bee preserved amongst the Treasures of this Citie as a perpetuall honour to this Citie from his Majestie.

In the Subsidy of 1667, White paid 14s., and another £1 19s. for his lands.

Anthony Wood records how on 2 November 1677 Sir Sampson stood in for the Mayor and entertained the Duke of Buckinghamshire at a dinner, and that a ballad was written about the entertainment, which cost a phenomenal £200.

† Alderman Sir Sampson White died at the age of 78 early on the morning of Sunday 28 September 1684, when the bells of St Mary the Virgin rang out. He was buried in that church on 1 October 1684 between the door leading into Adam Brome’s chapel and the buttress of the steeple, on the north side of the church. He gave £5 in his will to that church. His wife, “the Lady White”, was buried in All Saints’ Church on 9 September 1688, and his son Henry carried on his father’s drapery business, becoming Mayor himself in 1691.

Memorial to Sir Sampson White

The memorial to Sir Sampson White and his sons (above) is high on the wall of what is now the church shop.The right-hand side is dedicated to Sir Sampston and is inscribed thus:

Sampsonis WHITE, Militis,
Flagrante Rebellione Subditi Fidelissimi,
Hujus Civitatis Aldermanni & Bis Praetoris,
1o. sub reditu Regis, cui in Coronationis
Festo ad Botelaria Serviebat:
2o. cum saeviente undique Pestilentiâ,
Parliamentum Oxonij indicebatur.
Magistratum semper sustinuit modeste & diligenter
sine Fanaticâ austeritate vel Fastidio, quo nemo melius
Civitati Prospexit, quamvis nullas unquam
lites movit cum Academiâ.
Quod ad magis privatum vitae Genus spectat, Domi
Hospitalitatem, Humanitatem Foras, ubique Honestum &
Decorum ita exercebat, ut Pietate, charitate, et Prudentiâ,
Vix ulli videretur secundus, inter tot virtutes
Consenescens, morti Succubuit.

Anno Salutis1684 Saluti Ætatis 78 ab omnibus desideratus

Maria conjux mæstissima (ex quo 7
filios Susceperat, 4 filias) post Consortium
faelicissimum per 50ta Annos monumentum hoc P:.
Laus Deo

To the affectionate memory of Sampson White, Knight, most faithful subject in a time of raging revolt, alderman of this city, and twice mayor: the first time at the restoration of the king [1660/1], when he served in the Butlery at the coronation feast, and the second time when, with the plague raging on all sides [1665/6], the Oxford Parliament was appointed. He always held the office with modesty and diligence, without frenzied severity or pride, and no one more than he watched out for the city, although he never instigated any lawsuits with Academia [the University]. He is sadly missed by everyone in the year of salvation 1684 and of his age 78. Maria his most grieving wife (who bore him seven sons and four daughters) put up this monument after a most happy partnership of fifty years. Praise to God.

White’s coat of arms

Wood also describes the family arms that Sir Sampson White used (but added: “How any of his family [can] claime that coat, which was granted to the Whites of Southwarnborough in Hampshire, I cannot conceive”):

Or a chevron gules between 3 perots vert, within a bordure azure charged with bezants; impalling, argent a saltire ingrailed between 12 billets sable.

White’s children

Four of Sampson White’s eleven children were still alive at the time of his death in 1684:

  • John White, the eldest son of Sampson White, known as Squire White, studied at the University of Oxford. His entry in Alumni Oxonienses reads: “White, John, of Oxford; deme Magdalen Coll. 1647, ejected by the parliamentary visitors 1648, restored 1660, resigned 1661, M.A. 23 Aug., 1660. See Bloxam v.202. Wood (I: 330) lists John White in a list of people “ejected for their loyaltie” petitioning to be allowed back into the University, but notes mysteriously in the margin, “He was not expelled.” John was admitted free by the City on 5 April 1660 and granted a Bailiff’s place on the council on 30 September 1661. In 1669 he gave a speech to the Duke of Tuscany in lieu of the Recorder. Wood describes him as “John White, esquire, M. of Arts, sometimes of Magd. Coll. afterwards of University College and at length a justice of the peace at or near to Witney in com. Oxon. He married Abigail daughter of John Yate of Haley in the parish of Witney (where he lives) by his wife Mary daughter of John More esquire of Payne’s farme in the parish of Taynton which John More was father to Thomas de la More. But the said John White shewing himself too malepert when the popish plot broke out, was left out of the commission of the peace, 1679.”
  • Henry White (1648–1724), White’s second surviving son, took over his father’s drapery business and became Mayor himself in 1691.
  • Gilbert White (1650–1728), White’s third surviving son, studied at the University of Oxford. His entry in Alumni Oxonienses reads: “White, Gilbert, s. Samson, of Oxford, equitis. St Edmund Hall, matric. 10 July, 1668, aged 17; demy Magdalen Coll. 1668—72, B.A. 1672, fellow 1672—81, M.A. 6 Feb., 1674—5; rector of Brandeston, Norfolk, 1680, of Selborne, Hants, 1681, until his death 13 Feb., 1727—8. Father of John 1703, brother of Francis 1667. See Bloxam v.282, & A. West. 163.” Gilbert was the father of John White (1688–1758), JP and barrister, who in turn was the father of the naturalist Gilbert White (17201793).
  • Francis White (16521614), White’s fourth surviving son, studied at the University of Oxford. His entry in Alumni Oxonienses reads: White, Francis, s. Sampson, of Oxford, equitis. Balliol Coll, matric. 13 Dec., 1667, aged 15, B.A. 1671, M.A. 1674, B.D. 1684; his father mayor of Oxford and knighted 25 April, 1661; brother of Gilbert 1668. Wood (iii: 35) writes in his diary on 30 January 1683, “<Francis> White of Ball. Coll., son of Sir Sampson, preached the fast sermon at St. Marie’s. Very satyricall and bitter against the phanaticks.” The inscription below is in a list of benefactions in St Mary Magdalen Church.

Francis White inscription

See also:

  • Henry White, Mayor of Oxford 1691 (his son)
  • The Charles II Coronation cup and cover presented to White in the fifteenth-century crypt of the Town Hall
  • Clark, Andrew (ed.), The Life and Times of Anthony Wood, Antiquary, of Oxford, 1632–1695, Described by Himself (Oxford, 1891, reprinted for the Oxford Historical Society in 1992 by Antony Rowe Ltd), Volume III, pp. 110–11: description of Sir Sampson White and his family
  • PCC Will PROB 11/378/136 (Will of Sir Sampson White of Oxford, proved 13 November 1684)
  • PCC Will PROB 11/392/386 (Will of Dame Mary White, Widow of Oxford, proved 17 September 1688)

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 29 September, 2018

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