Oxford History: Mayors & Lord Mayors


Henry Tregelles Gillett (1872–1955)

Mayor of Oxford 1938/9

Henry Tregelles Gillett was born in Banbury in 1872. He came from an old Quaker family of bankers.

The 1881 census shows him as a child of ten living at Wood Green House, Broughton Road, Neithrop with his banker father Charles (51), who was born in Adderbury); his mother Gertrude (47), who was born in Dorset); his two brothers Charles (19) and Edward (8); and his six sisters Gertrude (17), Mary (14), Margaret (13), Agnes (11), Richenda (7), and Sarah (6). The family had two servants.

The family were in the same house in 1891: Elizabeth (26) was now a mission worker; while Margaret (23) and Henry himself (20) were students of medicine.

Gillett trained as a doctor at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London, qualifying in 1895. He took a postgraduate course at the University of Edinburgh, and the 1901 census shows him at the age of 30 as a general practitioner at 8 Brougham Street, Edinburgh: he was the head of the household, which otherwise comprised an engineering student boarder, and a 35-year-old housekeeper.

Gillett then came to Oxford, taking over a practice at 15 King Edward Street. His special interest was in preventative inoculation.

In 1907/8 Henry Tregelles Gillett married Lucy Bancroft (born in the USA in 1880/1) and they had five children:

  • James Cooper Gillett (born 1909/10)
  • Agnes Gillett (born in Oxford in 1911)
  • Jenepher Gillett  (born in Oxford in 1915)
  • Esther Gillett  (born in Oxford in 1917)
  • Roger Gillett  (born in Oxford in 1922).

By 1910 Henry Gillett had moved to 8 Charlbury Road, but kept on the same practice in central Oxford. The 1911 census shows him living there with his wife and son James, plus two servants.

Gillett retired from practice in 1935.

Gillett was an independent councillor for the South Ward from 1920 to 1942, and an alderman from 1942 to 1947. He was Chairman of the Slum Clearance Committee and of the Oxford Council of Social Service.

In 1938 Gillett was elected Mayor of Oxford (for 1938/9). The Oxford Refugee Committee was established during his mayoralty, and he helped to deal with refugees from Nazi Germany who came to Oxford. He also set up settlements for the unemployed of South Wales (a movement started by the Society of Friends to which he belonged). He was also a leading figure in the move for the Oxford Corporation to acquire electricity from the Oxford Electric Company.

† Henry Tregelles Gillett died on 26 June 1955 at his home at 14 Upland Park Road, at the age of 84. His funeral was held at Oxford Crematorium, followed by a Memorial at the Friends Meeting House in St Giles.

See also:

  • Oxford Times, 1 July 1955, p. 20
  • 1881 Census: Oxford (Neithrop), 1530/9
  • 1891 Census: Oxford (Neithrop), 1184/86

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 20 September, 2018

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