Oxford History: Mayors & Lord Mayors


William Wickham (1712–1780)

Mayor of Oxford 1755/6 and 1769/70

William Wickham was born in Oxford in 1712, the son of the mercer Richard Wickham (who in turn was probably the son of George Wickham, the father of a child of that name baptised at All Saints’ Church on 21 August 1681).

William Wickham’s parents had the following children baptised at All Saints’ Church: Richard (29 January 1708/9), William himself (31 January 1711/12), Sarah (2 February 1712/13, buried a week later), Mary (24 July 1714, buried two weeks later), Elizabeth (27 November 1716), and Catherine (12 November 1718, buried four days later). William also had a sister called Jane.

In about 1719 the family moved to one of the shops opposite University College (which were then in St Peter-in-the-East parish). Their youngest child, John, was baptised at St Peter-in-the-East Church on 13 November 1721, and shortly after his birth William’s father Richard Wickham died at the age of 40 and was buried at that church on 1 December 1721.

In March 1724/5 William was apprenticed as a mercer to his mother for seven years.

William Wickham was appropriately appointed a Cloth Searcher by the Council in September 1739. A year later he was appointed Mayor’s Child by the new Mayor, Daniel Shilfox, taking up his Chamberlain’s place in September 1741.

On 2 June 1742 at Yarnton Church William Wickham of St Peter-in-the-East parish married Elizabeth Bly of Adderbury. They do not appear to have had any children.

In 1744 Wickham was appointed Senior Bailiff and in February 1754 one of the Mayor’s eight Assistants.

In March 1755 Wickham took on William Fletcher as an apprentice, and later took him into partnership with him.

In September 1755 Wickham was appointed Mayor of Oxford for the first time (for 1755/6), naming William Thorp as his Child. On Friday 26 November 1756 just after his term of office, Wickham gave a loaf of bread to all Freemen who came to the Town Hall, and according to Jackson’s Oxford Journal, about 350 turned up.

In September 1769 Wickham was appointed Mayor of Oxford for a second time (for 1769/70), choosing William Drought as his Child and John Watson as his Chamberlain.

In early 1775, when Wickham was 63 and presumably thinking about retirement, Jackson’s Oxford Journal states that the partnership of Wickham & Fletcher Mercers had been dissolved in July 1773, and that henceforth the business would be carried on by Fletcher alone.

Wickham continued to serve as a Mayor’s Assistant until his death, but asked to be excused from attending council meetings after August 1778 on account of the benefaction of £500 he had given to the city, the interest on which was to be for the use of the City Lecturers.

William Wickham died on 12 December 1780 at the age of 68, and was buried six days later at St Peter-in-the-East Church. He left legacies to his sister Jane, her husband John Brown, and their children Joseph, William, and Mary Brown.

His widow, Elizabeth Wickham, was buried with him on 6 February 1795.

See also:

  • Malcolm Graham, Oxford City Apprentices 1697–1800, entries numbered 1267 and 2093
  • PCC Will PROB 11/1074/20 (Will of William Wickham, Gentleman of Oxford, proved 10 January 1781)

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 19 September, 2018

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