Oxford History: Mayors & Lord Mayors


Edward Tawney (1735–1800)

Mayor of Oxford 1772/3, 1784, and 1797/8

Edward Tawney was baptised at St Margaret's Church, Binsey on 7 December 1735. He was the son of Richard Tawney and his second wife Elizabeth Rowler, who were married at St John-the-Baptist Church in Oxford on 20 May 1719. He had an older stepsister, Jane (born 1713). Of his nine full siblings, only two survived: Mary (born 1720) and Richard (born 1721). He grew up in Binsey. For more about his background and siblings see the biography of his father Richard Tawney (who had been Mayor in 1748) and the younger brother of Richard Tawney II (who served as Mayor in 1764, 1778, and 1790).

In 1760 Edward Tawney established himself as a maltster in Tidmarsh Lane in west Oxford, and in 1763 he became the first independent tenant of the city-owned Castle Mill.

In 1773 he bought the freehold of the Tidmarsh Lane brewhouse and malthouse.

Edward also built himself a gentleman’s farmhouse in Headington, on the site of the later Headington Lodge (now divided into White Lodge and Sandy Lodge) in Osler Road.

The 1772 Survey of Oxford shows that Tawney’s malt house and garden on the west side of Tidmarsh Lane had a frontage of 88 yards, while his adjoining house had a frontage of 21 yards 1 ft 0 in.

Edward was selected as a Chamberlain on 30 September 1766, and on 30 September 1769 was appointed Junior Bailiff for a year. On 1 September 1772 he was elected one of the Mayor’s eight Assistants, and at the end of the same month was elected Mayor of Oxford for the first time (for 1772/3), nominating the mercer William Brown as his Child.

On 30 September 1774 he became a Bailiff, Keykeeper, and Treasurer; and on 30 September 1776 he became one of the Mayor’s Assistants again. On 3 April 1789 he was by scrutiny elected an alderman in the place of Mr John Treacher, deceased, and was sworn, paying the mace-bearer a jacobus piece of gold and the treasurer £10 according to custom and £10 in lieu of entertainment.

In 1783 and again in 1784, Tawney gave bread and meat to the prisoners in Oxford Castle: in the latter year they numbered 80 (of whom 26 were debtors).

In March 1784 Tawney and the city solicitor went to London with an address to the King to thank him for dismissing his late ministers and apointing the present ones.

In the mayoral year 1783/4 the Mayor who was originally selected died in March, and his replacement also died in July. Tawney was elected by the Commonalty in Guildhall yard on 24 July as Mayor to serve the remaining two months (August–September 1784).

On 6 February 1793 Tawney was appointed to a committee to inquire into the St Scholastica’s Day ceremony.

In 1796 Tawney bought the freehold of a row of properties in Lower Fisher Row, where he built a fine house for himself (now No. 1) and an almshouse for four poor men and four poor women (now Nos. 2–3).

On 30 September 1797 was elected Mayor of Oxford for the third time (for 1797/8), nominating Herbert Parsons as his Chamberlain.

In November 1797 Tawney entered into an agreement with Mark and James Morrell to take them into partnership with him while they began to buy out his interest in the brewery.

On 24 December 1798 Tawney was appointed on to a committee to consider the Oxford Canal Bill pending in Parliament.

Edward Tawney died after a lingering illness at the age of 65 on 10 March 1800, and was buried a week later at Binsey Church. He bequeathed £700, and £4,500 stock in 3% Consol bank annuities, to the city for charitable purposes, and his name was added to the names of benefactors to the City.

Neither Edward nor his only brother who had survived to adulthood had married, and hence he left all his property to Mrs Ann Wharton, the daughter of his much older half-sister Mary. Ann was born a Tawney, as her mother Mary Tawney had married her first cousin, the carpenter Robert Tawney; and her husband was the apothecary Theophilus Wharton.

Tawney inscription in Binsey church

Left: Edward Tawney and his parents and siblings are commemorated on this monument in Binsey Church. It reads:

Sacred to the Memory
Sometime Mayor of the City of Oxford,
who died July 5th, 1717:

who died Febry. 10th, 1756, aged 72 Years;
Of ELIZABETH, his second Wife,
who died Sepr. 11th 1769, aged 73 Years;

Of five of their Children, who died in their Infancy

And also
Alderman, and thrice Mayor of Oxford,
Son of the above mentioned RICHARD & ELIZABETH
who died Octr. 5th 1791, aged 70 Years.

Near this place are likewise interred the Remains
of EDWARD TAWNEY, Alderman of Oxford,
who, as well as his Brother,
three times discharged the Office of Mayor,
with Credit to himself & Advantages to the Public.
Besides other charitable Benefactions,
during his Life, he founded & endowed
an Almshouse for the support
of three poor Men & three poor Women.
He died March 10th 1800, aged 65 years.
in Compliance with the Directions of his Will
this Monument was erected by his Executors

See also:

  • Jackson’s Oxford Journal, 15 March 1800 (death notice)
  • Richard Tawney I, his father (Mayor in 1748)
  • Richard Tawney II, his elder brother (Mayor in 1764/5, 1778/9, and 1790)
  • Charles Tawney, his first cousin twice removed (Mayor in 1837 and 1840)
  • Lilia Sophia Tawney
  • Brigid Allen, Morrells of Oxford. The Family and their Brewery 1743–1993 (Oxfordshire Books, 1994), esp. Tawney family tree on p. 6 and pp. vii, xvi, xvii–xxi, 7, 17–18, 21, 23, 46, 148
  • PCC Will PROB 11/1339/258 (Will of Edward Tanney [sic], Alderman of Oxford, proved 24 March 1800)

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 25 September, 2018

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