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Amos John George (1860–1928)

Mayor of Oxford 1924/5


Amos George
Copy of photograph donated by Joy Yorke,
great-grand-niece of Amos George

Amos John George was born in Kirtlington, Oxfordshire in early 1860 and baptised there on 8 April.

His father Thomas George was born at Cuddington, Berkshire in 1830, the son of the labourer William George, and by 1852 he was a bootmaker in Kirtlington.

Amos's mother Jane Sarah Hawtin was born at Kirtlington in 1833, the daughter of the labourer Thomas Hawtin.

Amos's parents were married at Kirtlington Church on 10 October 1852. His three older siblings Bridget Mary George, Ellen Jane George, and Evan Amos George had all been baptised there together on Christmas Day 1857.

The 1861 census shows Amos George (1) living at a cottage in Kirtlington with his parents and two of his older siblings: Ellen Jane (5) and Evan (3). His eldest sister, Bridget (7) was paying a visit on census night to the blacksmith Amos George (probably her uncle) and his wife, who lived in Haddenham.

Three more siblings were born after that census: Albert George (1863), William George (1868), and Emily Jane Sarah Rose George (15 March 1870).

Amos's mother Jane George died at the age of 38 just five days after Emily's birth, and was buried at Kirtlington churchyard on 24 March 1870.

At the time of the 1871 census Amos (11) was still at school, living at one of the Main Road Cottages in Kirtlington with his widower father Thomas (42) and his siblings Bridget (17), who was described as a general servant, Ellen (15), who was keeping house for her father, and Evan (13), who was an apprentice shoemaker.

In 1876 Amos George (16) went to work in the Telegraph & Booking Department of the Great Western Railway. In that year his father married his second wife, Sarah Mott, who was born in Bletchingdon.

By the time of the 1881 census Amos (21) was following his father’s trade as a cordwainer and still living at Kirtlington with his father Thomas (54), his stepmother Sarah (55) and his younger brothers Albert (18) and William (13), who were also cordwainers.

In 1883 Amos became Organizing Secretary of the Band of Hope Union, and this appears to have been his full-time job: he organized large festival choirs for their choral concerts at venues such as Oxford Town Hall and Blenheim Palace.

On 21 November 1887 at Kirtlington, Amos John George (27) married Mary Ann Bunker (21), who was born in Kirtlington on 17 February 1866 and baptised there on 13 May. She was the daughter of the carpenter John Bunker and his wife Elizabeth.

Amos and Mary Ann George spent all their married life in Oxford. They had two children:

  • Amos John George born in Oxford near the end of 1888;
    died aged four months and buried at Kirtlington on 23 March 1889)
  • Frederick John George (born in Oxford on 4 April 1892).

At the time of the 1891 census Amos and Mary Ann were living at 9 Church Street, St Ebbe’s, and Mary Ann’s sister Bessie Bunker (13) was staying with them.

George bottle

Later in the 1890s Mrs George opened a café in Oxford’s covered market that was to remain open for 80 years. She is listed in Kelly’s Directories from 1899 as “15–16 The Market, Mrs A. George, dining rooms”, and her advertisement reads:

When you are in Oxford, stop at Tea, Coffee, and Dining Rooms, 95 & 96 1st Avenue, Oxford Meat Market (near Market St end). Hot Joints Daily, 12 till 2 o’clock. Tea, Coffee, Cocoa, Lemonade, &c. Prices strictly moderate. Your patronage and recommendation respectfully solicited. Mrs. A. J. George, Proprietress. Don’t forget the address: Meat Market, Oxford

The ginger beer bottle on the right, inscribed “George’s Market Dining Rooms”, dates from 1902.

George’s Café at 77 The Market was to survive until at least 1980.

Photograph of George’s Café in 1976

At the time of the 1901 census Amos George (41) was living at 36 Newton Road in south Oxford. He was still described as a Temperance Secretary, but there is no mention of his phonograph business. With him were his wife Mary (35), their son Frederick (8), and his wife’s brother, Frederick Bunker (17), a provision merchant’s salesman who may well have supplied George’s Café. The family had one general servant.

In January 1904 their son Frederick John George entered the Boys' High School in George Street.

In 1907 Amos George opened a phonograph stores at Market Buildings, Market Street, which he ran until 1921. His brother Albert W. George had a boot & shoe-making business at 8 Hythe Bridge Street.

In 1909 Amos George was elected by the South Ward to the city council for the first time. He was the council representative on the Board of Guardians for six years, and the Chairman of Oxford Unemployed Relief Committee for nine years.

Amos’s son Frederick John George had the educational opportunities his father had lacked and obtained an open Toynbee scholarship at the University of Oxford in 1910 and was matriculated by Jesus College.

At the time of the 1911 census Amos (51), described as a “Restaurant Proprietor Joint with Wife”, was living at 36 Newton Road with his wife Mary Ann (45), described as a “Restaurant Proprietor Joint with Husband”, and their son Frederick (18), described as a “Varsity Student (on Training for School Master)”. Boarding with them were a provision merchant's assistant/ traveller, a shop assistant, and a general assistant. They also employed a general domestic servant.

Their only son Frederick John George got a Third Class Honours degree in Modern History, obtaining his B.A. in 1914. In 1915 he was an assistant master at Elstow School in Bedford. He volunteered in the First World War and on 10 January 1916 was a 1st Class Aircraftsman in the Royal Flying Corps, later the R.A.F. (Service No. 18662), serving in France, Italy, and Belgium. He was mentioned in despatches, and survived the war. He then obtained a position at Wyggeston School in Leicester. He was married in 1922:

  • On 21 February 1922 at St Simon's Church, Hammersmith, Frederick John George (29), described as a schoolmaster of 21 London Road, Leicester, married Elizabeth Jane Rycroft (25) of 6 Melrose Gardens, Hammersmith. She was born in Fulham on 30 November 1896, the daughter of the deceased traveller William James Rycraft.

In 1924 Amos John George was elected Mayor of Oxford (for 1924/5). His wife was presented with a new gold chain by Councillor Gerken’s widow, to be used by all future Lady Mayoresses.

† Amos John George was still living at Springfontein, Newton Road in south Oxford when he died in the Acland Nursing Home in north Oxford on 11 September 1928. The following description of his funeral at Kirtlington appeared in Jackson's Oxford Journal of 19 September 1928, followed by a list of the numerous important people who attended:

ALL CLASSES AT THE GRAVESIDE

It was a tribute to the affection in which all classes of the community held the late Councillor Amos J. George that all sections of life in the City were represented at the graveside – the Mayor and Corporation, the Magistracy, the Fire Brigade, Sons of Temperance, and even street newspaper-sellers.

Motor-coaches carried hundreds of people to Kirtlington, where Mr. George was born and spent his early years; the Union Jack flown half-mast from the school flag-pole was a reminder of his connection with the village, while in the churchyard were assembled many who had known him from childhood. Here are buried his mother and father and members of Mrs. George's family, and at his expressed wish a grave was dug close to these. The sides had been lined with moss and white chrysanthemums.

The coffin was conveyed from Oxford by road, and was met at the entrance to Kirtlington Church by the Vicar (Rev. G. C. May) and the City Rector Rev. W. Mansell Merry). The Mayor and members of the Corporation lined the pathway to the church and, after the cortege had passed, formed up behind the family mourners, while in the rear surged hundreds for whom the church did not offer accommodation. Rarely has the passing of the son of an Oxfordshire village been attended by such manifestations of sorrow as those witnessed on Monday.

His effects came to £5,236 11s. 9d., and his executors were his wife Mary Ann and their son Frederick, who was now a schoolmaster.


Amos George's widow

Mary Ann George continued to run her café in the market, and a schedule of city council rents in 1933 shows that she paid £67 1s. 2d. a year for Shops No. 15 and 16, which included a room on the first floor and a cellar.

In 1939 Mary Ann described herself as a café proprietress and was living at 36 Newton Road with Edith F. Bunker (born in 1885 and probably her niece), who was a café assistant.

She died at 36 Newton Road, Oxford at the age of 88 on 14 August 1954 and was buried at Kirtlington on 18 August. Her effects came to £13,896 14s. 8d., and her son was her executor.

Their only child

Frederick John George (born 1892) and his wife Elizabeth do not appear to have had any children.

In 1939 Frederick was an assistant master at a secondary school, living at 24 Wakerley Road, Leicester with his wife.

By the time he acted as the executor of his mother in 1955 he was already retired, and appears to have moved to Oxford.

His wife Elizabeth Jane George died in Oxford at the age of 74 near the beginning of 1971.

Frederick died at 41 South End, Garsington, near Oxford at the age of 89 on 25 February 1982, and his ashes were buried at Kirtlington churchyard. His effects came to £198,818.


See also:

  • The Changing Faces of Oxford City Centre, Book 1, pp. 53–4, for photographs of Amos George and his wife and their café
  • Oxford Journal illustrated of 1 March 1916, p. 9 (“Who’s Who in Oxford”)
  • Memorial to Amos George east of the porch of Kirtlington Church
  • 1861 Census: Oxford (Kirtlington), 897/36
  • 1871 Census: Oxford (Kirtlington), 1442/32
  • 1881 Census: Oxford (Kirtlington), 1505/28
  • 1891 Census: Oxford (St Ebbe 1), 1168/42
  • 1901 Census: Oxford (Grandpont), 1384/89

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 29 November, 2018

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