Oxford History: Mayors & Lord Mayors


Jeremy Franklin (c.1670s–1748)

Mayor of Oxford 1728/9 and 1736/7

Jeremy (or Jeremiah) Franklin (or Franckling) was probably born in the 1670s. He was the son of William Franklin, who had been appointed City Carpenter on 13 January 1688.

Jeremy became a carpenter like his father, taking on his first apprentice, Robert Pratt, in January 1698/9 and his second, William Cantwell, in February the next year. In the latter agreement, Franklin is described as a “house carpenter”, and the terms are spelt out thus: “Master to find meat, drink, washing, lodging & other necessaries but no apparel”.

On 2 July 1699 at St Giles Church, Jeremy Franklin married Catherine Townsend. Catherine had been baptised at that Church on 20 December 1674, and was the daughter of John Townsend, who was himself to be Mayor in 1720. She was also the sister of William Townsend, an important Oxford builder with whom Franklin was to work throughout his life.

On 31 May 1700 Franklin was appointed City Carpenter “in place of his father, deceased”. He appears to have always had two young apprentices working for him, as he regularly took on new boys for a seven-year term: Charles Etty (1703), Thomas Phillips (1705), John Reeve (1710), Thomas Hawkins (1714), John Stiles (1718), Thomas Franklin (son of the late Thomas Franklin, a carpenter of Witney, and probably a relation, 1721), Thomas Garlick (1725), John Lowe (1728/9), Richard Ayres (1731), and John Smith (1736).

On 9 October 1708 Franklin was granted a lease by Balliol College of 65 St Giles for 40 years at a rent of 13s. 4d

In 1708 Franklin leased from the Council Mr Box’s property in Northgate for 40 years for a fine of £39 and 4s. rent p.a. He also leased from them a property in St Peter-le-Bailey.

Franklin had been appointed the Council’s Surveyor of Nuisances on 30 September 1699, a post he held for 49 years until his death in 1748, except for the year 1714/15 (when he served as Senior Bailiff) and for the two years when he was Mayor.

In 1704 Franklin came on to the council as “one of the 24”, and in 1705 he was made a Keykeeper and in 1711 a Gentleman Chamberlain.

In 1709–11, the west range of Queen’s College was built by Franklin’s brother-in-law William Townsend, and Franklin did the carpentry work.

In 1711 Franklin was elected a Gentleman Chamberlain on the council, and in 1725 Bailiff again.

In 1725 Franklin was chosen as Bailiff again, and then at last on 27 May 1728 was elected one of the eight Assistants and on 20 September the same year was elected Mayor (for 1728/9). He chose John Wilkins as his Child, but his choice for Mayor’s Chamberlain, Sampson Remmett, was rejected by the Commons. In March of his term of office, he proposed that the city should elect a City Plumber. His initials JF appear on the boundary stone on Headington Hill marking the end of the Headington Highway.

Thomas Hearne remarks that on 19 October 1733 houses on the east of the south side of The Queen’s College began to be pulled down in order to erect a new part, and that “The Mason was Mr. Townsend and the Carpenter Mr. Franklin, who are the same that were imployed in the former new Buildings of that College”.

Franklin continued to serve as an Assistant, and in September 1736 was a second time elected Mayor of Oxford (for 1736/7). This time he chose John Gilbert as his Child and William Culley as his Chamberlain.

† Jeremy Franklin died in 1748, and was buried at St Peter-le-Bailey Church on 17 June. .

The lease of 65 St Giles was granted by Balliol College on 6 January 1752/3 to “Catharine Franklin, widow”.

Franklin’s apprentice of 1705, Thomas Phillips, was later to become an important master-carpenter in London, building the first timber Fulham Bridge (1729/30), and doing the carpentry work in the Treasury Buildings in Whitehall (1733-37) and churches such as St Martin-in-the-Fields.

See also:

  • Malcolm Graham, Oxford City Apprentices 1697–1800, entries numbered 71, 97, 264, 385, 650, 802, 971, 1093, 1258, 1368, 1456, and 1622
  • MS Wills Oxon W. 211.281; 128/2/44

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 4 September, 2020

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