Oxford History: Mayors & Lord Mayors


Henry Wise (1665–1741)

Mayor of Oxford 1711/12, 1718/19, and 1730/1

Henry Wise was born in 1665, the eldest son of John Wise (a yeoman of Drayton St Leonard) and his second wife Fleur Harrison (daughter of John Harrison of Beech Hill, Berkshire). He was educated at Dorchester Grammar School, and became an Oxford mercer.

His first apprentice mercer, James Aris, was admitted free on 3 November 1693.

On 29 April 1697 at St Aldate's Church in Oxford, Henry Wise married Mary Trollopp. At first they lived in St Martin’s parish, but by 1706 they appear to have moved to St Michael’s parish (although family burials took place in St Peter-in-the-East Church). They had the following children:

  • John Wise (born on 30 March 1699/1700 and baptised at St Martin’s Church on 7 April)
  • Henry Wise (baptised on 2 November 1701 at St Martin’s Church and buried at St Peter-in-the-East Church on 15 June 1710)
  • Mary Wise (baptised on 21 November 1703 at St Martin’s Church and buried at St Peter-in-the-East Church on 19 May 1704)
  • Thomas Wise (born on 4 November 1706 and baptised at St Michael-at-the-Northgate Church on 24 November)
  • Elizabeth Wise (no obvious baptism, but mentioned on Henry Wise’s memorial).

On 30 September 1699 Henry Wise was given a chamberlain’s place as the Mayor’s Child by the Mayor, Sir Robert Harrison (who may have been a relative of his mother), and he paid 3s. 4d. for not serving as Constable. On the same day he was granted a Bailiff’s place, paying £5 to be spent on wine. A year later on 16 September 1700 he was appointed Junior Bailiff.

In November 1700 Wise took on William Aris as his apprentice.

In 1702 Wise inherited a considerable part of the family fortune on the death of his father.

He took on William Collyson in January 1707/8 but in March 1710/11 he transferred to Thomas Lawrence to learn the chandlery trade instead.

On 23 February 1711 Henry Wise was appointed one of the Mayor’s eight Assistants, and on 19 September that year commenced his first term as Mayor (for 1711/12), choosing Abraham Rousier as his Child. During his mayoralty, on 3 January 1712, he was elected Alderman.

In June 1713 Wise took on another new apprentice, Richard Hinde.

On 3 April 1718 his eldest son John Wise was matriculated at the University of Oxford from Brasenose College at the age of 15. He obtained his BA three years later in 1721.

On 15 September 1718 Wise commenced his second term as Mayor (for 1718/19), proposing that John Knibb should have a Chamberlain’s place.

In November 1720 Wise took on John Austin as his apprentice, and then in January 1722/3 his own son Thomas, who was aged about 15.

In 1726, according to Thomas Hearne, Henry Wise stood again for Mayor against Sir John Boyce, and lost by a great majority.

On 6 September 1728 his apprentice John Austin was admitted free.

On 14 September 1730 Henry Wise was elected again for a third term (for 1730/1), choosing John Smith as his Chamberlain and John Treacher as his Chamberlain.

On 14 November 1728 his eldest son John Wise died at the age of 28. Described as “Mr John Wise of Brasenose College”, he was buried at St Peter-in-the-East Church on 22 November 1728.

On 6 December 1732 Wise was chosen Barge Commissioner.

On 28 May 1737 at St Michael-at-the-Northgate Church, his daughter Elizabeth Wise married William Lowe of St Clement’s.

His son Thomas Wise was admitted free on 25 September 1738.

† Alderman Henry Wise died on 9 October 1741 at the age of 76 according to the plaque below, which is on the wall of St Peter-in-the-East Church. But there is a mystery here: the burial register of the church states that Alderman Wise was buried there on 12 April 1741, and the latter seems likely, as a replacement Alderman for Wise was sworn in on 13  April 1741. The plaque appears to have been put up after the death of his daughter Elizabeth 25 years later, when precise details could have been forgotten.

Memoriial to Henry Wise and family

Iuxta deponuntur Reliquiæ
Hujus Civitatis Aldermanni
Obiit Die 9o Octobris 1741
Ætatis suæ 76.

Iuxta quoque requiescit Maria
Uxor ejus, quæ obiit Ian: 19o
1752, Ætatis suæ 76.

Necnon Iohannes Henrici et
Maria Filius, qui ob: 14o
Novembris 1728. Ætatis suae 28.

In eodem etiam Sepulchro
Sita est ELIZ: LOWE
Hen: et Mar: Filia
Obiit Oct: 2. 1766

Nearby lie the remains of
HENRY WISE, Alderman of this City
who died on 9 October 1741 aged 76.

Also nearby rests Mary his wife
who died on 19 January 1752, aged 76.

Also John, the son of Henry and Mary,
who died on 14 November 1728 at the age of 28.

In the same tomb has been placed
ELIZABETH LOWE, daughter of Henry and Mary
who died on 2 October 1766

Wise left most of his wealth and property to his son Thomas. He also left £250 to his granddaughter Frances (who married Joseph Gauntlett at Ardington on 10 November 1771), and 3/- a week (payable on Mondays) to his granddaughter Constance. There is a mysterious condition to the latter legacy, namely that she should not “dwell in the same house with John Wise of Oxford, Banker or to hold any connection or correspondence with him, either by word of mouth or writing or otherwise” on pain of loosing the annuity.

Henry Wise



The portrait on the left hangs in the Council Chamber of Oxford Town Hall, and is inscribed on the frame “Alderman Henry Wise, 1711”, but was originally identified as another Mayor of Oxford, Henry's son Thomas Wise.

It has now been identified as the portrait of John Harris, but it is dubious

See also:

  • Richard Wise, Mayor in 1716
  • Thomas Wise, Mayor in 1746 (his son)
  • Malcolm Graham, Oxford City Apprentices 1697–1800, entries numbered 182, 527, 776, 1071, 1152, and A40
  • Possible portrait of Henry Wise in the Council Chamber of the Town Hall, Oxford
  • PCC Will PROB 11/709/75 (Will of Henry Wise, Gentleman and one of the Alderman of the City of Oxford,
    proved 14 April 1741)

Some of the above information was kindly supplied by Ken Wise

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 24 November, 2019

Oxford Mayors home Small Shark Oxford History home