Oxford History: Mayors & Lord Mayors


Frederick Mason Brewer (1903–1963)

Mayor of Oxford 1959/60

Frederick Mason Brewer was born in Kensal Rise, Middlesex in 1903, the son of Frederick Charles Brewer and Ellen Maria Owen, who had married in Paddington in 1895.

Both of Frederick’s parents were school teachers, and the 1911 census shows them living at St Matthew’s School House, 6a Porchester Gardens, Bayswater with their children Winifred (15), Ella (14), Phyllis (10), and Frederick (8). As Frederick had a working mother, the household was cared for by a spinster aunt from each side of the family: Amy Brewer (33) acted as housekeeper, and Edith Maude Owen (25) as cook.

Brewer came up to Lincoln College in 1920 on an open scholarship, and obtained a First Class degree in Chemistry. He then undertook research under Professor Frederick Soddy.

From 1925 to 1927 Brewer was Commonwealth Fund Fellow at Cornell University, and in 1927–8 he was Lecturer in Physical Chemistry at the University of Reading. He returned to Oxford in 1928 as a Demonstrator and Lecturer at the Inorganic Chemistry Laboratory, remaining in the city for the rest of his life.

In the third quarter of 1929 in the St Thomas's district of Devon, Frederick Mason Brewer married Stella M. Pulling, and they had the following children:

  • Elizabeth M. Brewer (born in Oxford in 1930)
  • John Brewer (born in Oxford in 1933).

Brewer had swum for the University as an undergraduate, and from 1939 to 1945 he was President of the Oxford County Amateur Swimming Association, and from 1953 President of the Oxford City Swimming Club. During the war he was Chief Warden in the City, organizing Air Raid Protection work. After the war he was President of the Oxford Council for Drama & Music and Chairman of Governors of the Oxford College of Technology.

Brewer was elected as a university member on the City Council in 1944.

In 1955 Brewer was appointed Reader in Inorganic Chemistry. He had been attached to St Catherine’s Society from the 1930s, and when it became a full college in 1962 he was appointed an official Fellow on its foundation.

In 1959 Brewer was elected Mayor of Oxford (for 1959/60). In 1961 he was made an Alderman.

On Monday 11 February 1963 (just a week after collecting his CBE at Buckingham Palace) he collapsed as he was about to preside at a meeting of the Water Committee at the Town Hall and died, aged 60, at the Radcliffe Infirmary. His funeral took place at Oxford Crematorium. He left a widow and one son and one daughter.

See also:

  • Oxford Magazine, 1962–3, pp. 260–1 (obituary)
  • Oxford Times, 15 February 1963, p. 13 (obituary)

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 19 October, 2016

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