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Vincent Shortland (c.1724–1801)

Mayor of Oxford 1780/1 and 1794/5


Vincent Shortland was born in c.1724, the son of a yeoman, Thomas Shortland of Helmdon in Northants. On 10 March 1738/9 he was apprenticed for seven years to the Oxford carpenter Edward Riggins, who lived in St Mary Magdalen parish and had a timber yard on the site of the present 37 and 37A St Giles.

On 25 September 1746 at Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, Vincent Shortland married his master’s daughter Elizabeth Riggins: both were described as being of St Mary Magdalen parish. Shortland went into partnership with his father-in-law, and on 28 January 1756 he took on his first apprentice, William Bennett. By 13 December 1756 Riggins had died: Shortland took over his apprentice William Holder and Edward Riggins’ share in the partnership was transferred to his nephew, Richard Riggins.

Shortland was nominated Mayor’s child by the new Mayor, Thomas Treadwell, on 30 September 1758. He was sworn in on 20 October that year, paying the usual fine of 3s. 4d. for not serving as Constable.

He took up a Chamberlain’s place In 1760, becoming one of the five keykeepers.

Shortland’s first wife Elizabeth Shortland was buried at St Mary Magdalen Church on 22 November 1762.

On 27 August 1765 at St Mary Magdalen Church Vincent Shortland married his second wife, Mary Saunders, and Edward Riggins (presumably a relation of his first wife) was one of the witnesses. They had the following children:

  • Vincent Shortland junior (baptised on 1 April 1766 at St Mary Magdalen Church;
    died in infancy, buried there on 5 October 1766)
  • Ann Shortland (baptised on 5 September 1767 at St Mary Magdalen Church)
  • Vincent John Shortland (baptised on 8 January 1769 at St Mary Magdalen Church)
  • Mary Shortland (privately baptised on 9 May 1777 and received at St Giles’ Church on 30 May).

When his business partner Richard Riggins died in April 1766, Shortland took over the whole carpentry business.

On 14 September 1767 Shortland was elected Junior Bailiff. (On 21 February 1772 a prosecution was to be commenced against him by the City Solicitor for his fine for that office.)

In about 1770 Vincent Shortland moved into 40 St Giles' Street with his family.

In 1772 a survey of every house in the city was taken in consequence of the Mileways Act of 1771. The timber-yard on the site of Nos. 37 and 37A is recorded as being in the occupation of Shortland, with its frontage measuring 31 yards 1 feet 6 inches, as well as his house at 40 St Giles, which had a frontage of 17 yards 1 foot 6 inches.

Shortland took on George Bradford as his apprentice in 1763, William Badcock in 1769, and John Pursell in 1773.

On 3 April 1780 Shortland was elected one of the eight Mayor’s Assistants, and on 30 September that year was elected Mayor of Oxford (for 1789/1), selecting John Jonston as his Child. During his mayoralty, Shortland’s horse was stolen from his home at 40 St Giles, and on 27 August 1781 he advertised a reward in Jackson’s Oxford Journal. He was abused in execution of his mayoral office by Humphrey Palmer, a cordwainer. Shortland withdrew his prosecution and Palmer published an apology in Jackson’s Oxford Journal on 3 September 1781.

In March 1783 Shortland, still described as a carpenter, took on his own son Vincent John Shortland as his apprentice. In Bailey’s Western & Midland Directory for 1783, he is listed as “Shortland, Vincent, Timber Merchant”.

On 3 April 1786 Shortland was elected on to the Market Committee. He appears to have retired from carpentry at the end of 1789, when his son was coming to the end of his apprenticeship.

37 St Giles

It was probably around this time in the mid-1780s that Vincent Shortland built 37 St Giles (left) on the northern part of his former timber yard.

On 10 October 1789 Vincent’s former house at 40 St Giles (described as “late in occupation of Vincent Shortland”) was advertised to let.

In 1790 Shortland appears for the first time in a list of people awarded game licences.

On 17 October 1791 Shortland was chosen Alderman, and was sworn and paid the macebearer a Jacobus piece of gold and promised to pay the Treasurer £10 and £10 in lieu of entertainment. At the same meeting he was elected by a great majority as one of the barge commissioners.

On 30 September 1794 Shortland started his second term as Mayor (for 1794/5), choosing Gilbert Godfrey as his Chamberlain and Loder Prickett as his Child.

Shortland continued to serve as an Alderman until his death on 7 December 1801 at the age of 77. He was buried inside St Giles' Church on 12 December 1801.

His son Vincent John Shortland inherited 37 St Giles, the house that his father had built in the1780s. In 1808 he “released” the house and grounds in St Giles to Daniel Turner, Esq. At about this time No. 37A was built to the south, probably by the Turners: they appear to have lived in the new house and rented out No. 37.

Vincent Shortland's widow Mary died four years later on 10 January 1805 at the age of 68.

 

There is a memorial on the wall of St Giles’ Church (right) to Vincent Shortland, his second wife Mary, his infant grandson, and his son Vincent John Shortland. It reads:

 

IN A VAULT BENEATH
ARE DEPOSITED THE REMAINS OF
VINCENT SHORTLAND ESQ.
ALDERMAN
AND TWICE MAYOR OF THIS CITY
WHO DIED DEC: 7TH 1801
AGED 77 YEARS.

ALSO MARY HIS WIFE,
DIED JAN: 10TH 1805
AGED 68 YEARS.

AND OF STEPHEN VINCENT, INFANT SON OF
VINCENT JOHN AND MARY MARIA SHORTLAND.

LIKEWISE TO THE MEMORY OF
VINCENT JOHN SHORTLAND ESQ.,
SON OF THE ABOVE VINCENT & MARY SHORTLAND,
WHO DIED FEB 10 1831 AGED 62 YEARS
AND WAS BURIED AT CHELSWORTH, SUFFOLK

 

 


Shortland’s children
  • Vincent John Shortland (1769–1831) does not appear to have carried on the family business, but considered himself a gentleman. Three months after his father’s death, on 11 March 1802, he married Mary Maria Wentworth (daughter of the innkeeper at the Star in Cornmarket) at St George’s, Hanover Square. They had four children baptised at St Giles’ Church: Stephen Vincent in 1805, Henry Vincent in 1806, Mary in 1810, and Harriet Catherine in 1812. He came on to the council in 1810 and was elected Junior Chamberlain in 1812, but did not progress any further, possibly because he moved away from the area. He died at the age of 62 and was buried at Chelsworth in Suffolk in 1831
  • Mary Shortland (1777–1840) married William Turner Turner, a widowed farmer of Shipton-on-Cherwell, at St Giles’ Church in 1805, and her brother Vincent was one of the witnesses. They had ten children baptised at Shipton-on-Cherwell Church: Mary (1806), William Henry (1808), Vincent John (1809), Edgar (1810), Frances (1812), James (1813), Alfred (1814), Catharine (1815), William (1817), and Henry (1819). Mary died at the age of 63 and was buried at Shipton-on-Cherwell on 6 June 1840.

See also:

  • Jackson’s Oxford Journal, 12 December 1801 (death notice)
  • Malcolm Graham, Oxford City Apprentices 1697–1800, entries numbered 1736, 2048, 2110, 2265, 2397, 2512, and 2695
  • PCC Will PROB 11/1369/15 (Will of Vincent Shortland, One of the Alderman of the City of Oxford, proved 7 January 1802)

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 3 May, 2021

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