George Castle Pipkin
Mayor of Oxford 1934/5
George Castle Pipkin (1859–1950) was born at Westbury in Buckinghamshire, the youngest child of Thomas Pipkin (born in Westbury, Buckinghamshire in c.1825) and Caroline Bayliss (born in Finmere, Oxfordshire and baptised there on 6 May 1827).
Pipkin’s parents were married in Finmere on 13 October 1845: Thomas Pipkin (20) was described as a labourer of Westbury and the son of the labourer John Pipkin, and Caroline (18) was the daughter of the late Thomas Bayliss, who was a carpenter of Finmere. Their children were as follows:
- James Pipkin (born in Westbury and baptised there on 22 March 1846 )
- John Pipkin (born in Westbury and baptised there on 8 May 1847, with baptism also recorded at Finmere on 29 May 1847)
- Mary Ann (born in Westbury and baptised there on 28 January 1849)
- Harriet Pipkin (born at Finmere and baptised there on 9 February 1851)
- Henry Pipkin (birth registered Brackley second quarter of 1852, probably died before being baptised, death registered Brackley third quarter of 1852)
- Sara Maria Pipkin (born at Finmere and baptised there on 20 March 1853)
- Betsey Ann Pipkin (born in Westbury and baptised there on 11 March 1855)
- Pleasant Pipkin (born in Westbury and baptised there on 3 May 1857)
- George Castle Pipkin (born at Westbury and baptised there on 2 October 1859).
George’s parents appear to have started out their married life in Westbury, moving to Finmere in about 1850. The 1851 census shows George’s parents living at their own home in Finmere with their first three children, and his father was working as an agricultural labourer. It looks as though they moved back to Westbury in about 1854.
Soon after the birth of George in 1859, his parents moved to Horspath just to the east of Oxford, and can be found there at the time of the 1861 census with five of their children: John (already working as a plough boy at the age of 14), Mary Ann, Harriet, Betsey, Pleasant, and George himself, now six months old. His brother James (15), who was also a plough boy, and his sister Sarah Maria (7) were staying in a separate house in Horspath with their grandparents, the shepherd John Pipkin (65) and his wife Maria (64)
George’s father was an agricultural labourer aged 35 at the time of this census, but about two months later he died, and was buried at Horspath on 16 June 1861.
George Pipkin’s widowed mother Caroline must have moved to Cowley by 1867, as he always claimed that he began work at the age of 8 driving a plough there, and that clods of earth were thrown at him for not ploughing a straight furrow. The 1871 census shows George at the age of 11, living at Church Cowley with his mother and his siblings John, Betsey, and Pleasant.
In 1873 at the age of 13, George was apprenticed to a bricklayer.
On 9 September 1879 Pipkin (21) married his first wife, Annie Taylor (21), daughter of Thomas Taylor, a Cowley farm labourer, at Cowley St James Church. Pipkin himself is described simply as a labourer at the time of his wedding, but as a mason of Temple Cowley when his first child was baptised. They had the following children:
- Adelaide Emily Pipkin (baptised on 6 June 1880 at Cowley St James Church ; died aged one, buried there on 29 November 1881)
- Cyril Lloyd Pipkin (baptised on 11 June 1882 at SS Mary & John Church; died aged one, buried 29 August 1883 at Cowley St James Church )
- Alfred Lacey Pipkin (born in 1885/6, registered first quarter of 1886)
- Elfrida Alice Pipkin (born in 1888, registered third quarter; died at Percy Street aged five months, buried 6 February 1889 at SS Mary & John Church).
At the time of the 1881 census Pipkin, still only 22, is described as a stonemason. He was living in Church Street, Cowley (now Beauchamp Lane) with his wife and his ten-month-old daughter Adelaide. His wife’s father Thomas Taylor and his wife’s younger siblings lived with them, but Pipkin was deemed to be head of the household. A year later when he was 23 he started the firm that that was to develop into G. C. Pipkin & Sons, builders.
Pipkin’s first wife Annie died at Percy Street at the age of 30 and was buried in unconsecrated ground at SS Mary & St John Church on 22 June 1889.
On 30 March 1891 George Pipkin (30), described as a bricklayer of Percy Street, married his second wife, Mary Emily Barnes (spinster of 122 Howard Street, born in Cowley in c.1863) at SS Mary & John Church. The census that year shows George (31), now described as a bricklayer, living at 3 Howard Street with Mary (27) and Alfred (5), the only surviving child of his first marriage. He and his second wife had ten children, none of whom appear to have been buried in their parish church:
- Cyril Walter Pipkin (born February 1892, died at Howard Street aged 17 days, and buried in unconsecrated ground at SS Mary & John Church on 10 March 1892)
- Philip George Pipkin (born at the end of December 1892, died at Howard Street aged 7 weeks and buried with Cyril at SS Mary & John Church on 22 February 1893)
- Charles Henry Pipkin (born in February 1894; died at 50 Howard Street aged 9 weeks, buried at Rose Hill Cemetery on 6 April 1894
- Alice Mary Pipkin (born 1894/5, registered first quarter 1895)
- Jesse Edgar Pipkin (born 1896, registered second quarter)
- Frank Richard Pipkin (born 1898, registered third quarter)
- Edith Gertrude (born 1901, registered second quarter)
- Victor Frederick Pipkin (born 1902, registered fourth quarter)
- Grace Elizabeth Pipkin (born 1904/5, registered first quarter 1905)
- Ruth May Pipkin (born 1907, registered third quarter).
By 1893 the family had moved to 50 Howard Street. George C. Pipkin is described as a builder of Howard Street in Jackson’s Oxford Journal of 25 March 1899, when he was a witness in court concerning the claim by William Frederick Cross against his tenant for dilapidations at 49 Iffley Road. Pipkin had sent in an estimate of £25 for the work, but did not get it.
The 1901 census shows George and Mary Pipkin living at 50 Howard Street, and young Alfred (15) was now a bricklayer. Mary now had three children of her own, and Pipkin’s widowed mother Caroline (73) had come to live with them. Caroline died at the age of 76 and was buried at Rose Hill Cemetery on 15 October 1904.
By the time of the 1911 census George & Mary were living at 60 Warwick Street with the seven surviving children of their marriage. George is described as a bricklayer and an employer, but in Kelly’s Directory from 1914 to 1919 he is listed simply as a decorator. By 1921 G. C. Pipkin & Sons, builders were listed at 60 Warwick Street.
Pipkin’s second wife Mary Emily died in the Radcliffe Infirmary at the age of 57 and was buried at Rose Hill Cemetery on 29 August 1921. Within a few months he became a councillor for the first time (although he had been a member of the East Oxford Liberal Club from its foundation, and was its President for a period). He was first elected as councillor for the East Ward in November 1922, when he was 62 years old. He continued as a councillor until he was made an Alderman in 1937. He was Chairman for seven years of the Waterworks Committee, and for five years of the Estates Committee and Vice-Chairman of the Highways Committee.
Pipkin was 74 years old when in 1934 he was elected Mayor of Oxford (for 1934/5).
Pipkin was a member of the Oxford and District Co-operative Society for over 60 years, the East Oxford Bowls Club, the East Oxford Horticultural Show, and the Court Loyal Oxonian (2991) Ancient Order of Foresters.
In 1948 Pipkin resigned from being an Alderman. He died at the age of 90 on 2 May 1950, and was buried three days later in Rose Hill Cemetery. His was survived by three sons and four daughters.
G. C. Pipkin and Sons, builders were still at 60 Warwick Street in 1980. In 1993 they were listed at 62 Warwick Street, and were gone by 1996.
Pipkin Road off the Boundary Brook Road in East Oxford was named after this Mayor.
- Oxford Times, 5 May 1950, p. 7e (obituary)
- 1861 Census: Oxford (Horspath & Shotover), 889/106
- 1871 Census: Oxford (Cowley & Iffley), 1434/125
- 1881 Census: Oxford (Cowley), 1497/31
- 1891 Census: Oxford (Cowley 3), 1164/11
- 1901 Census: Oxford (Cowley St John), 1379/8