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William Eagleston (1821–1898)

Mayor of Oxford 1876/7


William Eagleston was born in Oxford in 1821 and baptised at St Clement's Church on 3 June.

His father Job Eagleston was born outside Oxfordshire in about 1790, and is presumably the man of that name described of being of St Peter-in-the-East parish in Oxford who in 1812 married Sarah Sheryer at St Andrew's Church in Holborn, London. They appear to have moved to St Clement’s after their marriage, but Sarah must have died during or shortly after childbirth, as she was buried at the old St Clement’s Church on the Plain on 15 August 1814, the same day that their son John Eagleston was baptised there. Until 1824 Job was described as a carpenter in the parish registers, but thereafter he was an ironmonger. His shop was at 7 & 8 St Clement’s Street (1–8 were demolished to make way for the Waynflete Building). At this time the parish of St Clement’s was outside the city of Oxford.

His mother Ann Wilkins was born in Oxford in 1790 and baptised at St Clement's Church on 8 June. She was the daughter of William and Hannah Wilkins.

On 3 January 1819 at St Clement’s Church, William's father Job Eagleston married his second wife Ann Wilkins, and their marriage was announced in Jackson's Oxford Journal on 9 January. They had four other children in addition to William baptised there: Ann (2 November 1819), William (3 June 1821), Sarah (25 August 1822), another Sarah (23 August 1823), Hannah (18 January 1824), and James (10 March 1825, buried 25 January 1826).

When William was four years old, his mother Ann Eagleston died at the age of 34. She was buried in the old St Clement's churchyard on the Plain on 11 March 1825, the day after the baptism of her youngest son James; and James himself only survived to the age of ten months and was buried on 25 January 1826.

On 15 May 1826 at Feltham in Middlesex, William’s father Job Eagleston married his third wife Hannah Wilkins, who was baptised at St Clement's Church on 1 September 1794. She was his second wife’s younger sister, and was thus William Eagleston’s aunt as well as his stepmother. (Such a marriage, although disapproved of by the Church – which may explain why two people from St Clement’s should have married in Middlesex – was only illegal in the period between 1835 and 1907.) They had six children baptised at the brand-new St Clement’s Church in the Marston Road, who were William's half-siblings: Mary (27 April 1828), Elizabeth (25 October 1829), Rebecca (12 June 1831), Job (11 April 1832), Frances (22 September 1833), and Joseph (23 October 1836).

In 1835 St Clement's was taken into the city of Oxford.

The 1841 census shows William (20) described as a tinplate worker and living with his father and stepmother Hannah and four of his younger half-siblings (Elizabeth, Job, Frances, and Joseph) over his father’s ironmonger’s shop at 8 St Clement’s Street. Also living in the house was John Eagleston (William’s older half-brother by his father’s first marriage), described as an ironmonger. Two of William’s two older sisters, the Misses Ann and Sarah Eagleston, were bonnet makers next door at 7 St Clement’s Street, while his sister Miss Elizabeth Eagleston was a milliner & dressmaker at 37 High Street.

William’s father Job Eagleston died later that year at the age of 55 and was buried in St Clement’s churchyard on 19 October 1841, and his third wife Hannah took over his business.

William's sister Sarah Eagleston appears to have died at Appleford in Berkshire at the age of 24 in 1846 and was buried in St Clement's churchyard on 4 December.

The 1851 census shows William still living over the shop in St Clement's High Street with his stepmother Hannah (55), his full sister Hannah (25), and his half-siblings Elizabeth (21), Job (18), who worked in the shop, and Frances (17), plus a house servant.

In a directory of 1852, his mother Hannah was listed as an ironmonger and his sister Hannah as a straw-hat maker at 7 St Clement’s Street. (A John Eagleston, who had obtained his BA at London University, was in 1859 advertising his Classical & Mathematical School at 14 Pembroke Street: this may be his older half-brother.)

William Eagleston was appointed a Paving Commissioner in 1859.

On 31 May 1860 at St Mary Magdalen Church, Oxford, William Eagleston, described as an ironmonger of St Clement's, married Louisa Morgan, the daughter of David Morgan, a baker of St Mary Magdalen parish. They moved in with Louisa's father in Friars Entry, and had three children:

  • Sarah Louisa Eagleston (born in Oxford in 1861 and baptised at St Mary Magdalen Church on 20 December)
  • Alfred Morgan Eagleston (born in Oxford in 1863/4 and baptised at St Mary Magdalen Church on 2 March 1864)
  • Edward William Eagleston (born in Oxford in 1865 and baptised at St Mary Magdalen Church on 16 August).

At the time of the 1861 census, William Eagleston was away from home, but his wife Louisa (35) was at Friar’s Entry with her father, David Morgan (65), a widower described as a baker employing three men and one boy. She was described as a bookkeeper, while Miss Esther Sylvester (46), David Morgan’s sister-in-law, was acting as his housekeeper. They had five servants.

On 1 November 1862 William Eagleston was returned on to the Town Council for the East Ward, and was re-elected in 1865, 1868, and 1871. He was elected Sheriff of Oxford for 1870/1.

At the time of 1871 census Eagleston’s father-in-law David Morgan (76) was still the head of the household in Friars Entry: he described a master baker employing three men and one boy. His son Henry Morgan  (42), was also living with him, as well as William and Louisa Eagleston with their children Sarah (9), Alfred (7), and Edward (5). William was described as an ironmonger employing five men and two boys, as well as being the current Sheriff of Oxford. The family had five servants.

William Eagleston was made an Alderman on 31 October 1872.

Eagleston’s brother-in-law Henry Morgan died at the age of 45 in January 1873, followed by his father-in-law David Morgan at the age of 79 in February 1875, and Eagleston took over the baking business.

In 1876 William Eagleston was elected Mayor of Oxford (for 1876/7). He was one of the four Liberal leaders who dominated the council. He was a moderate Liberal whose leanings were Unionist after Gladstone’s Home Rule proposals.

The 1881 census shows Eagleston (59), now the head of the household at 20 Friars Entry and described as an ironmonger and baker employing four men. With him were his wife Louisa (55), his son and apprentice Alfred (17), and his other son Edward (15), who was still at school.

William’s full sister Miss Hannah Eagleston died at the age of 62, and was buried at St Clement’s Church on 9 December 1886.

His stepmother Hannah Eagleston lived to the grand old age of 95, thus surviving her husband by 49 years, and was buried in St Clement’s churchyard on 23 January 1890. They were both living at 2 St Clement’s Street at the time of their death.

When the city of Oxford became a County Borough on 9 November 1889, Eagleston withdrew from the council; but he was elected an Alderman again almost immediately.

By 1891 his firm was listed in Kelly’s Directory as Eagleston & Son, ironmongers, 7 & 8 St Clement’s street & blacksmiths, Black Horse yard”. The census that year shows William and Louisa and their son Alfred living at 2 Gloucester Place.

† William Eagleston died at 20 Friars Entry on 27 September 1898 at the age of 77, and his funeral was at Wolvercote Cemetery on 30 September. The open hearse processed from Gloucester Street led by Oswald Cole, Superintendent of Police, followed by the Mayor’s sergeant with the mace draped in crape, and members of the corporation. They processed at walking pace along Beaumont Street, St Giles’ Street, and the Banbury Road. The funeral service was taken by the Revd C. J. H. Fletcher, who was Rector of the City Church at Carfax. He was buried in Plot J1/168.

His effects came to £1,943 9s. 9d., and his two sons were his executors: Alfred was now an ironmonger, and Edward a bank clerk.

His wife Louisa Eagleston died at the age of 90 and was buried with him on 13 April 1916.


See also:

  • Jackson’s Oxford Journal, 1 October 1898, p. 10c (obituary)
  • Jackson’s Oxford Journal, 8 October 1898, p. 7e (funeral)
  • 1841 Census: Oxford (St Clement), 876/10/5
  • 1851 Census: Oxford (St Clement), 1727/308
  • 1861 Census: Oxford (St Mary Magdalen), 0894/017
  • 1871 Census: Oxford (St Mary Magdalen), 1438/29
  • 1881 Census: Oxford (St Mary Magdalen), 1502/21
  • 1891 Census: Oxford (St Mary Magdalen 2), 1167/142

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 3 September, 2019

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