Oxford History: Mayors & Lord Mayors


William Applebee I (1668–1746)

Mayor of Oxford 1724/5 and 1732/3

William Applebee (or Appleby) was baptised at St Peter-in-the-East Church on 26 December 1668). He was the son of the chandler William Applebee the elder (1634–1691), who took up his freedom freedom on 19 September 1656 and rented two tenements in the High Street, on the site of the present Examination Schools, and his first wife Ann, who had five other children baptised at that church: Mary (6 October 1664, buried there on 28 February 1667/8); Anne Appleby (11 September 1665); Elizabeth Appleby (14 August 1666); an earlier William (28 October 1667, buried there on 8 May 1668); and John Appleby (30 January 1669/70).

William came from a family of chandlers in St Peter-in-the-East parish. His great grandfather Maurice Applebee, a yeoman of Grafton in Warwickshire, had sent his two sons to be apprentices in Oxford:

  • Thomas Applebee (the Mayor’s great-uncle) was apprenticed on 20 September 1614 to the chandler William Appleby (doubtless a relation, and probably the son of the William Appleby of Grafton who had been apprenticed to the chandler Richard Goode back on 30 May 1535). He had a shop on the north side of the High Street (pulled down when The Queen’s College was extended to the High Street). He was a privileged person of the University
  • Edward Applebee (the Mayor’s grandfather) was apprenticed on 1 March 1626 to his older brother Thomas, taking up his freedom on 8 April 1633.

William's parents had been assessed for the bare minimum of poll tax in 1667, and their servant only earned 30s. when most servants appeared to earn £2.

William’s mother Ann Applebee died when he was five and was buried at St Peter-in-the-East on 19 January 1673/4. His father married his second wife, Ann Day, in that church on 3 January 1674/5 and they had three more children baptised there: Martha (22 August 1676), Edward (25 August 1678), and Jane (29 January 1681/2).

In 1688 Applebee’s father was ordered by King and Council to be admitted as a Chamberlain on the Council. He died in 1691, bequeathing among other things to his 23-year-old son William:

all ye tools, utensills & instruments of trade in my workehouse, whensoever my wife shall leave of ye trade of making candles.

William Applebee must have taken over his father’s business soon after his death in 1681, but he did not take up his freedom until 6 December 1799 when he was about 30, and is named as William Dell Appleby. He took on Thomas Glover in 1697 as an apprentice chandler.

Applebee was made Constable for the North East Ward in 1699 and a cloth searcher in 1701.

Appleby took on Edmund Robins as his apprentice in 1701, and James Green in 1711.

Applebee was chosen Junior Chamberlain on 30 September 1714, Senior Bailiff on 18 September 1721, and one of the Mayor’s eight Assistants on 24 May 1723.

On 14 September 1724 William Applebee was elected Mayor of Oxford (for 1724/5), choosing Robert Bossom as his Chamberlain. Thomas Hearne wrote:

He was absent at the Election, being gone to Stratford upon Avon Fair. It was expected that one Brock, a Taylour in Jesus College Lane would have been the Man, he making great Interest for it, whereas Appleby seem’d not at all to stir.

Applebee took on Edward Seeley as his apprentice in 1723. He does not appear to have had any children of his own, and in 1726 took on as his apprentice William Applebee (the son of Edward Applebee of London, a joiner, who was probably Applebee’s half-brother), and he eventually took over the business.

William Applebee was elected a second time as Mayor (for 1732/3), choosing Edward Holloway as his Chamberlain and William Ives as his Child. On 24 September 1723 he reported that a week or two before he had personally caught two freemen fishing at night in part of the freewater below Folly Bridge with a long draught net before the Mayor and the Bailiffs had had their fishing days.

Thomas Hearne describes the customary breakfast that Applebee gave at the end of his second term as Mayor:

On Monday, Oct. 7th, 1733 Mr Appleby, Mayor of Oxford for 1732, gave, as usuall, a breakfast to those of the Corporation, that for the ordinary sort at the Town Hall, but that for the better sort, viz. those for the Council Chamber was in the Refectory of Edmund Hall, being indeed a dinner rather than a breakfast, as beginning after the first was over about one Clock, and ’twas very handsome; after which towards four clock they retired and the new Mayor of Oxford for 1733, Mr Nibb, took place. In the evening at six Clock was an entertainment in the said Refectory of Edmund Hall for women, such as Mr Appleby had been pleased to invite, after Supper there was Musick and dancing in that Refectory till eleven clock and after.

† William Applebee died in mid-1746 and was buried at St Peter-in-the-East Church on 9  July that year.

His former apprentice and relation, also called William Applebee, continued his business and was later Mayor of Oxford himself.

See also:

  • William Applebee II, Mayor 1767
  • Malcolm Graham, Oxford City Apprentices 1697–1800, entries numbered A48, 240, 742, 1206, and 1336
  • MS Wills Oxon w. 211.115; 114/3/38

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 20 September, 2018

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