Oxford History: Mayors & Lord Mayors


Sir Richard Tawney II (1721–1791)

Mayor of Oxford 1764/5, 1778/9, and 1790/1

Richard Tawney II was baptised at St Margaret’s Church, Binsey on 14 April 1721. He was the son of Richard Tawney I (Mayor in 1748) and his second wife Elizabeth Rowler, and grew up in Binsey. He was the elder brother of Edward Tawney (Mayor in 1772, 1784, and 1797).

Tawney followed his father into the brewing trade. On 30 September 1757 he was appointed Mayor’s Child by John Phillips, and took up his place as Chamberlain a year later. On 17 September 1759 he was elected Senior Bailiff.

On 27 January 1764 Tawney was appointed one of the eight Assistants, and on 1 October 1764 he was elected Mayor of Oxford for the first time (for 1764/5), nominating John Dewe as his Child.

In 1766 the City got into such debt that they tried to sell its two parliamentary seats. As a result, the Mayor and ten councillors (including Richard Tawney) were committed to Newgate Prison in London for four days: they were discharged with a reprimand from the Speaker of the House of Commons on 10 February 1768.

In 1770 Tawney was made Governor of the Radcliffe Infirmary, and in 1771 was appointed on to the committee of six people to act with the university committee in purchasing houses and settling a new market in Oxford. By 1772 he was Treasurer of the council.

On 26 May 1775 Tawney was sworn in as Alderman, paying the macebearer a Jacobus piece of gold and the Treasurer £10 according to custom and £10 in lieu of entertainment.

On 30 September 1778 Sir Richard Tawney started his second term as Mayor (for 1778/9), nominating Thomas Wynne as his Child.

Tawney resumed his duties as Keykeeper after his mayoralty, and in November 1779 was charged with overseeing the building of a pound adjoining Tidmarsh Lane.

Between October 1784 and September 1786, Richard Tawney was knighted.

On 15 June 1787 a piece of land in Shoe Lane that was used as a dungheap, and the drain from his garden into the lane, was reserved to Sir Richard Tawney; and on 2 June 1789 a Balliol College lease relating to 33–35 Queen Street states that his property was just to the north of this group of shops.

On 30 September 1790 Sir Richard Tawney was elected Mayor of Oxford for a third time (for 1790/1), choosing William Benwell as his Chamberlain and William Tubb as his Child.

Sir Richard Tawney died on 5 October 1791 at the age of 70, just after completing his term of office. He was buried in Binsey Church on 11 October that year. He never married, and left no children.

Tawney inscription in Binsey church

Left: Sir Richard Tawney is commemorated on this monument in Binsey Church, together with his father and brother. 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

Knight, Alderman, and thrice Mayor of Oxford,
Son of the abovementioned 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:

  • Richard Tawney I, his father (Mayor in 1748)
  • Edward Tawney, his younger brother (Mayor in 1772, 1784, and 1797)
  • 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, xvii–xix, 17–18, 147
  • PCC PROB 11/1211 (Will of Sir Richard Tawney, Alderman of Oxford, proved 3 November 1791)

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 20 November, 2020

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