Mayor of Oxford 1922/3
Tom Basson (1861–1930) was born on 26 April 1861 at Iffley Lock House. His parents were William and Elizabeth Basson, and by the mid-1850s his father had been appointed lock-keeper at Iffley. The family had four children baptised fat Iffley Church: Louisa (1856), George Henry (1857), John (1860) and Thomas himself (4 August 1861); and another child, Walter, was born in 1863.
Thomas (who was always known as Tom) was educated at St Aldate’s and Hinksey Schools.
By the time of the 1871 census, Tom’s father had died and his mother Elizabeth (who had been born in Nuneham) had married William Allen, a timber merchant who at 25 was ten years her junior. Tom and his brothers were now living with their stepfather and mother at 38 Post Office Street, South Hinksey, and they had a new half-sister, May, who was one month old.
At the time of the 1881 census, Basson was a wood sawyer of 19 boarding with the family of a gardener called Henry Heath in Church Street, South Hinksey. Soon after this census he started his own timber business, which was to develop into T. Basson & Son of St Aldate’s.
Basson was a keen rower and one of the founders of Hinksey Rowing Club. He was Captain for several years, and rowed head of the river in 1889–90. He later became President of Oxford Watermen’s Rowing Club, and Vice-President of the Oxford Royal Regatta.
On 1 January 1889 Basson married Sarah Read of Bierton near Aylesbury at the Commercial Road Baptist Chapel in St Ebbe’s. They had four children:
- Edgar Basson (born 1889, registered Oxford district fourth quarter)
- Edith Mary Basson (born 1892, registered Oxford district second quarter)
- Hilda May Basson (born 1895, registered Oxford district third quarter)
- Annie Constance Basson (born 1899, registered Oxford district third quarter).
The 1891, 1901, and 1911 censuses shows the family living at 27A St Aldate’s Street (described as the “City Saw Mills” in 1901).
Basson was elected as a City Councillor for the South Ward in 1908. By 1916 he was serving on five committees: Waterworks, Market & Fairs, Farm, Cemeteries, and Allotments. He was elected Sheriff of Oxford in 1917.
In 1922 Basson was elected Mayor of Oxford (for 1922/3), and in July 1925 he was made an Alderman.
Basson was Manager of the Wesleyan Boys’ School in Oxford, and was on the general Committee of the YMCA from the time of its opening and President for several years. He was also President of the Oxford & District Sunday School Union, and was Deacon, Treasurer, and superintendent teacher at the Commercial Road Baptist Chapel in St Ebbe’s for 20 years. He was also President of Sunningwell War Allotments, and Trustee of the South Ward Allotments Association.
He was also Treasurer of the South Oxford Cricket, Tennis, & Bowls Club, and represented the County at bowls several times. While Mayor he promoted a bowling contest between the Oxford and Cambridge Corporations.
Basson died at the age of 68 in his home in Abingdon Road in January 1930, after enduring a long illness since the summer of 1928. His funeral was at the Wesley Memorial Church, followed by internment in Rose Hill Cemetery. His son and his two daughters (Mrs Grimsdale and Mrs Deane) attended the funeral, at which the Mayor, Sheriff, and almost the whole council were present.
- Oxford Journal Illustrated, 2 February 1916, p. 9 (“Who’s Who in Oxford”): includes photograph
- Oxford Times, 17 January 1930, p. 13f–g (obituary)
- 1871 Census: Berkshire (South Hinksey), 1264/60
- 1881 Census: Berkshire (South Hinksey), 1284/63
- 1891 Census: (St Aldate’s), 1167/15
- 1901 Census: Oxford (St Aldate), 1384/31