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William Slatter (1759–1837)

Mayor of Oxford 1824/5 [and 1825]


William Slatter (or Slater) was baptised at St Peter-in-the-East Church on 7 March 1759. His father was a freeman of Oxford, so he was probably the son of John Slatter of St Thomas parish and Catherine Weston of St Michael’s parish who were married at St Mary Magdalen Church on 9 February 1753. They had the following children:

  • Mary Slatter (baptised at St Peter-in-the-East Church on 12 February 1755)
  • Jane Slatter (baptised at St Peter-in-the-East Church on 2 February 1756)
  • John Slatter (baptised at St Peter-in-the-East Church on 16 February 1757)
  • William Slatter junior (baptised at St Peter-in-the-East Church on 7 March 1759)
  • Ann Slatter (baptised at St Peter-in-the-East Church on 17 May 1761)
  • Sarah Slatter (baptised at St Peter-in-the-East Churchon 16 March 1766)
  • Catherine or Elizabeth Slatter (date of baptism unknown).

In 1772 a survey of every house in the city was taken in consequence of the Mileways Act of 1771. According to H. E. Salter, Mr Slatter (William's father) had a house on the site of the present Examination Schools which had a frontage of 4 yards, 2 ft. and 7 in.

The John Slatter buried at St Peter-in-the-East Church on 30 December 1779 was probably William’s father.

On 7 November 1782 at St James's Church in Westminster, William Slatter married Lucy Gerard, and they had two sons:

  • William Slatter junior (baptised at St Peter-in-the-East Church on 3 July 1784)
  • Phipps Gerard Slatter (baptised at St Peter-in-the-East Church on 30 Apr 1789).

On 26 April 1784 (just after starting work as a baker in Oxford’s High Street), William Slatter was made a freeman of Oxford at the age of 25 by virtue of being the “second son of John Slatter”.

In the case of The Mayor and Corporation v. Farriday in 1827 (regarding the illegal selling of china by a man who was not a freeman), it was necessary to ascertain whether William Slatter was disqualified from giving evidence. This extract from his statement reported in Jackson's Oxford Journal of 4 August 1827 neatly sums up his early life as a baker in Oxford:

I am near 70 years of age; about three and forty years ago I attempted to settle myself in Oxford as a baker. At that time I was not a freeman of the City; and application was then made to me by the Corporation to take up my freedom, as they would not suffer me to trade until I had done so. In consequence I came to the Town Hall and took my freedom up, and paid about twenty-three shillings for it. As I was entitled to it by my father’s copy, I only paid the ordinary fees. I then carried on business in the city for three or four and twenty years. For the last ten years I have retired from business altogether. I have also been an Assistant and have served the office of Mayor of the city. I have also been a Member of a Committee of the Council called the Committee of Trade. The principal duty of that Committee is to receive reports from the officers of the City respecting persons carrying on trade, who are not free.

Slatter was elected to the Common Council on 1 October 1787, and chosen City Chamberlain in 1790 and Junior Bailiff in 1795. In March 1801 the council agreed to let the city estate at Eynsham to him for an annual rent of £180 and a payment of 4% p.a. for all money laid out by the city in buildings on the farm, and he extended it in 1813. The farmhouse was on the site of the present 89 Eynsham Road.

In 1786 William Slatter, described as a baker of St Peter-in-the-East parish, took on as his first apprentices Thomas Verey of Langford in Berkshire and Jave Lock of Oxford.

The Catherine Slater who was buried at St Peter-in-the-East Church on 18 March 1794 was probably William's mother.

William Slatter was listed as a baker in the Universal Directory of Britain for 1794. in 1795 he took on another apprentice, William Farrell of St Clement’s, and on 29 September 1799 he took on Robert Slatter, son of the Oxford plumber and glazier John Slatter, who is likely to have been a relation.

On 28 January 1801 his elder son William Slatter junior was matriculated at the University of Oxford from Christ Church at the age of 16, obtaining his BA in 1805 and his MA in 1808; and on 11 March 1806 his younger son Phipps Gerard Slatter was also matriculated from Christ Church at the age of 16. He obtained his BA in 1809 and his MA in 1812.

The Cartulary of St John the Baptist shows that on 6 December 1807 the lease of half of Chapel Hall, alias Link Lodging, was granted to Charles Wheeler Fidler, and that one of its two occupants was William Slatter, baker. (Link Lodging was at the north-east end of the High Street, near Longwall Street.)

Both of Slatter’s sons were admitted free on 13 October 1812.

His younger son, the Revd Phipps Gerard Slatter, died at the age of 25 at Kirkham in Lancashire on 24 March 1815, just after being appointed Headmaster of Kirkham Grammar School.

In about 1817 William Slatter took on a partner, Alexander Bayne, and retired from working in the business.

His wife Lucy Slatter died at the age of 54 and was buried at Cumnor on 4 November 1818.

On 25 November 1820 the following notice appeared in Jackson’s Oxford Journal, indicating that Slatter was handing the whole business over to Bayne:

HIGH STREET, OXFORD

Mr. William Slatter having declined the baking business in favour of his late partner, Mr. Alexander Bayne, requests that all persons who have demands on the partnership, or on his private account, will present the same, that it may be immediately discharged.

ALEXANDER BAYNE

begs leave to extend thanks to his friends and the public for their support during his late Partnership, and hopes, by an unremitting attention, to merit their future favours.

Pigot’s Directory for 1823, however, still listed “Slatter & Bayne” as bakers in the High, so Slatter’s name must have remained on the shop.

Slatter was for many years one of the Commissioners under the Paving and Lighting Act. In 1824 he was elected Mayor of Oxford for the first time (for 1824/5), and started to serve as Mayor at the start of the next year as well. His obituary explains the situation:

… So highly was he respected by all classes, that at the expiration of his Mayoralty he was re-chosen, a circumstance which had not happened before in the city for the space of 140 years. Soon after this re-election, however, it was discovered that by a clause in an Act of Queen Anne, the re-election was illegal, and Mr Slatter held the office until a mandamus could be obtained, when Mr Ensworth was elected Mayor.

William Slatter was still living in St Peter-in-the-East parish in Oxford at the time of his death on 11 February 1837 at the age of 77. He was buried with his wife at St Michael-at-the-Northgate Church in Cumnor on 17 February 1837.

In his will Slatter left all his property to his only surviving son William, except for a bequest to the Mayor & Aldermen of Oxford of £100, the interest of which was to be split equally between the Blue Coat Charity School in Oxford and the education of children in Cumnor. His executors were the bakers William and Alexander Bayne. The latter was his former partner: he was still listed as a baker in the High Street in Pigot’s Directory of 1842 and died there at the age of 80 on 24 July 1847.


William Slatter’s surviving son
  • The Revd William Slatter (born 1784) was one of the two chaplains of Christ Church and went on to be vicar of Cumnor, and rector of Hethe. He and his wife Lucy Butler had five daughters baptised at Cumnor between 1815 and 1826. Lucy died at the age of 40 and was buried at Cumnor on 28 August 1832, and the Revd Slatter died in Cumnor at the age of 66 and was buried there on 14 November 1849.
William Slatter’s sisters
  • Mary Slatter (born c. 1755) married Deodatus Eaton of St Aldate’s at St Peter-in-the-East Church on 27 July 1776.
  • Jane Slatter (born c.1756) married James Butler at St Martin-in-the-Fields Church, Westminster on 1 October 1776.
  • Sarah Slatter (born c.1766) of All Saints Parish married Thomas Langston of Christ Church at All Saints’ Church, Oxford on 10 July 1787.
  • Catherine or Elizabeth Slatter married Mr Tyrrell.

See also:

  • Jackson’s Oxford Journal, 18 February 1837, p. 3c (obituary)
  • Will of William Slatter of Oxford, 18 April 1837 [1834 in error]: PRO ref PROB 11/1877
  • Malcolm Graham, Oxford City Apprentices, Nos. 2800, 2803, 3060, 3179

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 26 January, 2020

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