Edwin Thomas Spiers
Mayor of Oxford 1866/7
Edwin Thomas Spiers (1808–1885) was born in London and baptised at St Andrew’s Church in Holborn on 14 September 1808. He was the son of the tailor Thomas Spiers (1777–1859) and his wife Harriet. His grandfather, who had died on 9 September 1785, was Richard Spiers: he had married Elizabeth Dodd on 27 October 1772, and their other surviving sons were John (b.1774), Richard (1776–1856), and James.
Edwin became a stationer, and on 2 July 1838, when he was 27, he married Elizabeth Pearson, aged 22, at Upper Heyford: she is simultaneously described in the register as a farmer’s daughter and the daughter of Richard Pearson, a shoemaker.
Spiers is already described as a “stationer of Oxford” when their son, George King Richard Spiers, was baptised at Upper Heyford on 27 January 1839, just five months after the wedding.
The 1841 census shows the family living in Bear Lane, Oxford: he is described as a bookseller, and they have a female servant and a clerk living with them.
In 1848 Spiers contested the North ward with Isaac Grubb, losing by just one vote; and in 1851 he was returned for the West ward.
From the mid-1840s and in the 1850s Spiers was a bookseller, stationer, and newsagent (as well as managing a circulating library) at 96 High Street, and in the 1851 census he is shown living there with Elizabeth and their son George, now twelve years old.
Spiers’s wife Elizabeth died on 3 April 1852 at the age of 37 and was buried at St Mary the Virgin Church five days later. Her grave is one of the very few that remain in the grass to the north of the church (left) and reads :
IN MEMORY OF
ELIZABETH THE BELOVED
WIFE OF E. T. SPIERS
AFTER LONG AND PATIENT
DEPARTED THIS LIFE
APRIL 3 1852
AGED 37 YEARS
Spiers was one of the four Liberal leaders on the city council, and was elected Sheriff of Oxford for 1856/7.
On 29 December 1859 Spiers married his second wife, Mrs (Matilda) Charlotte Sheard (née Betteris, the widow of Robert Sheard. She was twelve years his junior and the couple can be found in the 1861 census at 96 High Street with Charlotte’s two children from her previous marriage. Spiers was evidently now a wine merchant rather than a stationer, with his stepson, Edwin T. Sheard, following him in his new trade.
Spiers’s only son George King Richard Spiers was admitted free on 27 July 1860. At the time of the 1861 census he was 22 and no longer living with his father, but lodged at 2 Museum Terrace; but he probably still worked for him, as he is describes as a wine merchant.
In 1866 Spiers was elected Mayor of Oxford (for 1866/7). After his term of office he remained councillor for the West ward.
By the time of the 1871 census, Spiers was aged 61 and he and Charlotte lived alone with their two servants. Still described as a wine merchant, he was now occupying both 96 and 97 High Street. (These shops were in the row demolished in 1909 to make way for the Rhodes Building of Oriel College.)
In 1871 Spiers’s only son George was living at St Clement’s; four years later on 16 March 1875 he died at the age of 34 at the Warneford Asylum, and was buried at St Mary the Virgin Church three days later.
The 1881 census shows Spiers at the age of 72 living at “Rycote”, 31 Leckford Road with his wife Charlotte and his stepdaughter Miss Charlotte Sheard (39), plus a servant.
Four years later, on 2 March 1885, Spiers died at his home in Leckford Road at the age of 76. His funeral was held on 6 March at the church of St Mary the Virgin, and he was buried in Holywell Cemetery (Plot G.120). His second wife, Charlotte, died on 11 January 1900.
- Jackson’s Oxford Journal, 7 March 1885, p. 5c(obituary)
- 1841 Census: Oxford (St Mary the Virgin), 891/09/8
- 1851 Census: Oxford (St Mary the Virgin), 1728/92
- 1861 Census: Oxford (St Mary the Virgin), 893/69
- 1871 Census: Oxford (St Mary the Virgin), 1437/71
- 1881 Census: Oxford (St Giles), 1499/115
Edwin Thomas Spiers was the cousin of Richard Spiers (Mayor 1853/6).