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Richard Tawney I (1684–1756)

Mayor of Oxford 1748/9


Richard Tawney was baptised at St Thomas’s Church on 24 January 1683/4, the son of Edward Tawney and his wife Elizabeth. His three older siblings had also been baptised there: Edward in 1671, Robert in 1678, and Elizabeth in 1681; and there was another brother, Henry, buried there in 1671.

When Richard was aged six, his father Edward died, and: he was buried at St Thomas’s Church on 25 July 1690. Just over a year later, on 26 October 1691, his mother Elizabeth married again at St Thomas’s Church: her new husband was a bargemaster, John Clarke. The family lived in a big house in Lower Fisher Row, which his mother inherited after the death of Clarke.

Richard Tawney seems to have acquired a share of his stepfather’s business as well as his house, and became a boatmaster himself. He lived at Binsey (then in Berkshire).

Richard Tawney and his first wife Jane Smith had four children, but only one daughter survived:

  • Richard Tawney junior (baptised on 23 May 1712 at St Margaret’s Church, Binsey
    and buried there on 13 July 1720)
  • Jane Tawney (privately baptised on 30 November 1713 by St Margaret’s Church, Binsey)
  • John Tawney (baptised on 13 August 1715 at St Margaret’s Church, Binsey;
    died aged about 14, and buried at the church on 2 March 1730)
  • Edward Tawney (baptised on 21 June 1717 at St Margaret’s Church, Binsey;
    died aged about one month, buried at the church on 18 July 1717)

Richard Tawney’s first wife Jane Tawney died on 5 July 1717, soon after the birth of her youngest son. She was buried at Binsey Church the same day; her baby was buried with her a week later.

On 20 May 1719 at St John’s Church (Merton College Chapel) Richard Tawney, with his home parish given in the register as Binsey, married his second wife, Elizabeth Rowler of Yarnton. They had ten children, but seven died in childhood. Both their sons who survived were themselves to serve as Mayor of Oxford:

  • Mary Tawney (baptised on 4 March 1720 at St Margaret’s Church, Binsey)
  • Richard Tawney junior (baptised on 14 April 1721 at St Margaret’s Church, Binsey)
  • Henry Tawney (privately baptised on 30 December 1722 at St Margaret’s Church, Binsey and received in church on 22 January 1722/3; died aged 13 and buried at the church on 30 January 1736)
  • Elizabeth Tawney (privately baptised on 14 March 1724/5 at St Margaret’s Church, Binsey and received in church on 9 April; died aged 6 and buried at the church on 31 October 1730)
  • Ann Tawney (privately baptised on 17 July 1726 at St Margaret’s Church, Binsey and received in church on 14 August; died aged about 13 and buried at the church on 2 June 1739)
  • Edward Tawney (privately baptised on 2 March 1728/9 at St Margaret’s Church, Binsey and received in church on 31 March; died aged about eight months and buried in the church on 4 November 1730)
  • Joseph Tawney (baptised on 2 March 1730/31 at St Margaret’s Church, Binsey; died aged about one and buried in the church on 19 March 1731/2)
  • Elizabeth Tawney (privately baptised on 11 September 1733 at St Margaret’s Church, Binsey, received in church on 7 October; died aged about 7, and buried at the church on 4 August 1740)
  • Edward Tawney (baptised at St Margaret’s Church, Binsey on 7 December 1735 at St Margaret’s Church, Binsey)
  • Sarah Tawney (no baptism recorded, but buried at St Margaret’s Church, Binsey on 14 June 1740 at St Margaret’s Church, Binsey)

Tawney came on to the Common Council on 30 September 1737 at the age of 53, and was immediately elected to fill up a Chamberlain’s place. He was sworn in on 2 December, and paid £3 10s. and the usual fine of 3s. 4d. for not serving as Constable. In September 1739 he was elected Mayor’s Chamberlain

By 1743, Richard was a brewer, and in 1745, at the age of 60, he became tenant of the present Morrell’s Brewery site, and started the Lion Brewer there. He evidently supplied beer to the council, as the franchises of 1747 show a payment of £4. 14s. 0d. for beer paid to Messrs Treacher and Tawney.

In June 1748 Tawney became one of the eight Assistants, and on 30 September 1748 he was elected Mayor (for 1748/9), naming Isaac Lawrence as his Child.

In October 1749 Tawney was given the duty of overseeing the building of a dam or weir at Rewley Lock. In April 1752 he was given a lease of a vault under the north end of the Town Hall that was being built.

Richard Tawney died on 10 February 1756 at the age of 73, and was described as being of St Thomas’s parish when he was buried at Binsey on the 22nd of that month.

His second wife Elizabeth Tawney (also described as being of St Thomas’s) died on 11  September 1769 and was buried with him at Binsey Church on 15 September.

Tawney inscription in Binsey church

Left: Richard Tawney and his two wives and his children are commemorated on this monument in Binsey Church. It reads:

Sacred to the Memory
Of JANE the Wife of RICHARD TAWNEY,
Sometime Mayor of the City of Oxford,
who died July 5th, 1717:

Of the said RICHARD TAWNEY,
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
Of RICHARD TAWNEY, Knight,
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.
And
in Compliance with the Directions of his Will
this Monument was erected by his Executors


See also:

  • Richard Tawney II, his elder son (Mayor in 1764/5, 1778/9, and 1790)
  • Edward Tawney, his younger son (Mayor in 1772, 1784, and 1797)
  • Charles Tawney, his great-great-nephew (Mayor in 1837 and 1840)
  • Lilia Sophia Tawney, his great-great-great-granddaughter (Mayor in 1933/4)
  • 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, xiii, xvi–xvii, 147
  • PCC Will PROB 11/821/81 (Will of Richard Tawney, Brewer of Oxford, proved 4 March 1756)
  • PCC Will PROB 11/952/48 (Will of Elizabeth Tawney, Widow of Oxford, proved 10 October 1769)

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 30 July, 2020

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