Oxford History: Mayors & Lord Mayors

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Richard James Spiers (1806–1877)

Mayor of Oxford 1853/4


Richard James Spiers was born in Oxford on 16 June 1806. He was the eldest son of Richard Spiers (born in Oxford on 3 February 1776)  and Catherine Sirman (born in Oxford on 26 September 1779), who were married at St Peter-le-Bailey Church in Oxford on 17 September 1805 and had four children:

  • Richard James Spiers (born 16 June 1806 and baptised at St Mary the Virgin Church on 18 June)
  • Ann Spiers (born on 1 September 1807 and baptised at St Mary the Virgin Church on 3 September)
    Later (1) Mrs Samuel Patey and (2) Mrs Richard Mallam
  • James Spiers (born on 15 April 1809 and baptised at St Mary the Virgin Church on 1 May)
  • Katharine Sirman Spiers (born on 16 April 1811 and baptised at St Mary the Virgin Church on 11 August)
    Later (1) Mrs Edward Standen and (2) Mrs John Willins.

Richard James Spiers’ father (who had been matriculated by the University of Oxford as a privileged person on 19 March 1798) was a hairdresser and perfumer at 28 High Street, Oxford (one of the shops demolished in 1887 to make way for Brasenose’s High Street frontage); he also had property in St Peter-le-Bailey parish. In Jackson’s Oxford Journal of 28 October 1809 he advertised his shop as a “Peruque and Ornamental hair manufactory”.

As soon as he was aged 21, Richard James Spiers was matriculated by the University of Oxford as a hairdresser like his father. His entry in Alumni Oxonienses reads: “Spiers, Richard James (‘tonsor’). s. Richard, of Oxford (city); privilegiatus 30 June 1827, aged 21.” His younger brother James was similarly matriculated as a “chemicus et pharmacopola” (chemist) five years later on 14 June 1832.

On 13 October 1832 his father Richard Spiers announced in Jackson's Oxford Journal that he was taking him into partnership as a perfumer, hairdresser and stationer at 28 High Street. Less than eighteen months later Richard James Spiers moved the shop across the road, writing in his Family Register on 26 March 1834, “I took possession  No 102 High st.” This shop was described in a directory the following year as a stationery and fancy-goods shop, and later as a china and glass warehouse. The picture below was drawn by Cuthbert Bede for his book The Adventures of Mr Verdant Green, published in 1853, by which time Spiers had expanded into No. 103 High Street next door.

Spiers shop at 102 High Street

The new undergraduate Verdant Green is taken in by the joke that Wordsworth wrote “Oh ye Spires of Oxford” in praise of the shop, which indicates how the name Spiers was probably pronounced. Mr Green ended up buying the following “remembrances of Oxford”: a fire-screen to be prepared with the family coat of arms for his father; another with a view of the High for his aunt; a netting-box, card-case, and a model of the Martyrs’ Memorial for his three sisters; and a paper-knife for himself.

On 2 July 1836 Jackson’s Oxford Journal reported that James Drew, who had access to Spiers’ home in the High Street “in the character of ash-man” had stolen two silver tablespoons worth ten shillings and was sentenced to one month’s imprisonment with hard labour.

In August 1836 Spiers, then aged 30, went on his last jaunt as a bachelor with his friend Edward Standen (1809–1845), a mercer and shirtmaker with premises at 28 High Street (formerly occupied by the Spiers' hairdressing business, and opposite their current shop): he had married Spiers’s sister Katharine on 23 April 1833. Spiers describes his travels in Europe in his diary, which he entitled “Memorandum of an autumn tour in 1836”.

In the following summer, on 15 July 1837 at St Cross Church in Holywell, Richard James Spiers (31) married Elizabeth Phené Joy (19). Born at Oriel Street, Oxford on 16  June 1818, Elizabeth was the eldest daughter of the late Thomas Joy, a tailor of Holywell, and his first wife Martha Phené, and was living at 10 Holywell Street with her uncle. .

The wedding tour of Richard Spiers and his new wife lasted 3½ months, and again he kept a journal, describing their travels to the Isle of Wight, Belgium, Germany, Austria, and Italy, and back through Austria, Germany, and Holland, and then home to Oxford via London.

The first two of the couple’s thirteen children were born over the Spiers shop:

  • Richard Phené Spiers (born at 102 High Street on 19 May 1838 and baptised on 17 June 1838)
  • Samuel Patey Spiers (born at 102 High Street on 27 March 1840 and baptised on 26 April 1840). Spiers later added to his Family Register that he was christened by “Cardinal Newman”.

On 9 November 1838 Spiers was been elected on to Oxford city council as the Conservative representative for the Central Ward.

In Pigot's Directory for 1839 Spiers & Son is listed under Perfumers and Hair Dressers as operating at 102 High Street, showing that at this point Richard was working in his father's business.

On 31 October 1840, Spiers wrote, “I qualified as Commissioner of the Thames, 6th district to Cricklade.”

By the time of the 1841 census the family was living at 19 St John Street with their first two children plus two servants, and Spiers was described as a perfumier. Their third child was born there:

  • Frank Edward Spiers (born on 21 July 1841 and baptised at St Giles’s Church on 1 September 1841).

Spiers records in his Family Register for 4 March 1841: “Rosehill priory first occupied by father & mother”, and they can duly be found in retirement in Iffley in the 1841 and 1851 censuses. Richard senior, who is described in the latter census as a “landed proprietor”, had himself been on the council from 1838 to 1847.

14 St Giles Street

On 6 January 1842 Spiers wrote in his diary: “I took possession of 14 St Giles’, sleeping there for 1st time”. The family was to live in that house (right) for over thirty years and had ten more children there in the next thirteen years, all baptised at St Giles’s Church:

  • Elizabeth Joy Spiers (born on 11 July 1843 and baptised on 9 August 1843)
  • Charlotte Horn Spiers (born on 5 December 1844 and baptised on 6 January 1845)
  • Alice Jane Mary Spiers (born on 7 March 1846 and baptised on 15 April 1846)
  • Agnes Ellen Spiers (born on 15 May 1847 and baptised on 7 June 1847). Died aged 3 weeks on 12 June 1847 and buried on 14 June 1847
  • Walter Lewis Spiers (born on 27 July 1848 and baptised on 1 October 1848)
  • Florence Ellen Pigott Spiers (born on 10 June 1850 and baptised on 8 November)
  • Agnes Decima Spiers (born on 27 September 1851 and baptised on 29 October)
  • Arthur Hood Spiers (born on 7 July 1853 and baptised on 25 September)
  • Ernest George Spiers (born on 15 September 1854 and baptised urgently at home on 16 September and again at the church on 3 November)
  • Hubert William Spiers (born on 31 July 1856 and baptised on 12 November); died on 6 January 1860)

Spiers meticulously recorded details of his family in Lett’s Family Register and Perpetual Diary: Intended as a journal of domestic occurrences such as births, deaths, marriages, and other remarkable events. Here he recorded the heights and weights of all his children each year, and as he included himself we learn that he was 5ft 9¾in tall, while his wife was 5ft 3¼in. He also records the family illnesses: of his twelve children who survived babyhood, eleven had measles, whooping cough, and chickenpox; two had diphtheria; and six had scarlet fever, of which Hubert (the only one to escape all the other diseases) died.

The Post Office Directory of 1847 had the following listing for Spiers' business, which had expanded to include the larger shop at 103 High Street to the west:

Spiers Richard & Son, stationers, general fancy warehousemen, perfumers, desk & dressing case makers, cutlers, china & glass dealers, & hardwaremen, 102 & 103 High Street.

On 27 April 1848 Spiers's only brother James died at Iffley (presumably at his parents' home at Rosehill Priory) at the age of 39 and was buried there on 2 May

In July 1850 Spiers took over a second shop at 46 Cornmarket Street, and two months later he put in his servant Thomas Seaman as assistant manager, and allowed him to live over the shop. For the next thirteen years the Cornmarket branch of Spiers sold china and earthenware, while the shop at 102 High Street concentrated on fancy goods.

On 9 November 1850 Spiers inserted a notice in Jackson’s Oxford Journal thanking the burgesses of the Central Ward for re-electing him on to the Council.

On 4 January 1851 Jackson’s Oxford Journal reported a case at the Oxford Epiphany Quarter Sessions in the Town Hall. William Morris Williams, who had been an employee in Spiers’s High Street shop for nearly three years and supervised the perfumery department, was transported for ten years for stealing four items of property belonging to Spiers (a gold pencil case, a glass jar, a mariner’s compass, and an ivory box).

At the time of the 1851 census Spiers (44) described himself as a Town Councillor of Oxford, Stationer, Manufacturer of Fancy Goods, and employer of 29 persons and two apprentices. He was living at 14 St Giles's Street with his wife Elizabeth (32) and their children Elizabeth (7), Charlotte (6), Alice (5), Walter (2), and Florence (ten months), plus three house servants. Their three eldest sons were all away at boarding school on census night: Richard junior (12) was at Westminster, and Samuel (11) and Frank (9) were at John McKay Colgan Bennett's school in Temple Cowley. The upstairs premises at 102 & 103 High Street were now occupied by Spiers’ employees, headed by William Harvey, the manager of the shop, and his wife, who had three counting house clerks, two shopmen, and a stationer’s apprentice living with them, as well as a general house servant.

Spiers was elected Sheriff of Oxford for 1851/2, and Mayor of Oxford for 1853/4. The following report on the latter election appeared in the Daily News of London on 10 November 1853:

OXFORD.—The election of Mayor of this city took place yesterday, when Mr. Alderman Richard James Spiers, stationer and china merchant, was elected. Mr. Spiers being a conservative, was opposed by the liberal party, who nominated Mr. James Pike, hop merchant; but on taking the votes, there were for Mr. Spiers, 19; for Mr. Pike, 16; consequently Mr. Spiers was elected.

On 22 June 1854 Spiers and his wife presided over a banquet in the old Town Hall, and they are pictured here the Illustrated London News of 1 July 1854 facing the guests as they entered from the left

Mayor's reception of 1854

The accompanying text read:

Renowned as the city of Oxford has ever been for its hospitality, and for the liberal spirit which has characterised those who have filled the office of Chief Magistrate, it has been the particular study of the present Mayor (R. J. Spiers, Esq.) to please his native city in a still prouder position in those respects. On Tuesday, the 22nd ult., a banquet was given at the town hall, which, in point of elegance and splendour, far surpassed the ordinary style of corporation entertainments. On this occasion, in addition to his corporate friends and fellow-citizens, the Mayor had invited the leading members of the University and county gentry — including Sir H. Peyton, Bart.; the High Sheriff; the Right Hon. J. W. Henley, M.P., Mr J. H. Langston, M.P.; the Right Hon. E. Cardwell, M.P.; Mr G. Harcourt, M.P., &c….

The Reception by the Mayor and Mayoress in the Town-hall on Thursday evening was brilliantly attended. The invitations were extended to 1000. The object of this gathering was to bring again together the most distinguished members of the University, the county gentry, and the citizens, and to place before their notice works of art, rare literary works, and other objects calculated to gratify intelligent curiosity, and afford intellectual enjoyment. In this object the Mayor and Mayoress most eminently succeeded.

The town-hall presented a most brilliant appearance, for around its walls were hung some of the choicest works of Millais, Hunt, Collins, Ansdell, Allom, Prout, D. Cox, and others illustrious in art; while on stands in many parts of the room were ranged a collection of water colour drawings, by some of the most distinguished artists of the present day. In the various recesses and in the centre of the room were models of the most finished pieces of sculpture, by Calder Marshall, Macdowall, and others, imparting a degree of grace and beauty to the scene which could not be surpassed.

Soon after eight o’clock the company began to assemble. The list of guests included many of the most distinguished names in literature, science, and art. As they arrived they were introduced by Stewards to the Mayor, who then introduced them to the Mayoress, and she, as well as the Mayor, gave to each a cordial welcome. About ten o’clock the whole of the company had arrived, and, notwithstanding that upwards of 1000 persons were congregated together, there was an entire absence of confusion and pressure, owing to the excellent arrangements laid down and the admirable manner in which they were carried out by the Stewards, who undertook, as a labour of love, the duties which were assigned to them….

The Town-hall-yard was covered with a spacious tent, in which refreshments were dispensed. The Public Library was crowded during the night with parties examining the beautifully illustrated works, lent for the occasion by the Architectural Society, other public bodies, and private individuals….

On 19 August 1854 Jackson’s Oxford Journal reprinted this longer article on this reception that had been published in the Art Journal.

His father Richard Spiers senior died at his country residence at Rose Hill, Iffley at the age of 79 years, 11 months, and 6 days on 6 January 1856 and was buried there on 11 January. Nine days later on 15 January his mother Catherine Spiers, née Sirman came from The Priory in Iffley “to Oxford to reside at Mr Bannister's”: this is presumably Alfred Bannister, Spiers's married clerk. Their “very superior villa, known as “The Priory” was advertised for sale in Jackson's Oxford Journal of 31 May 1856.

Spiers was a prominent freemason, and on 8 January 1857 was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries.

On 12 June 1858 Spiers's mother died at the age of 78, and was buried in Iffley churchyard on 16 June. She was described in its register as Kate Smith of Oxford.

Just 3½ months later on 29 October 1858 his wife Elizabeth Phené Spiers, doubtless exhausted after giving birth to 13 children in 18 years, died at the age of 41. As it was a sudden death, an inquest was held, and Jackson’s Oxford Journal, 6 November 1858 reported on it as follows:

AWFULLY SUDDEN DEATH OF MRS. SPIERS. — We deeply regret to have to record the sudden death of Mrs. Spiers, wife of Mr. Alderman R. J. Spiers, a lady much esteemed throughout Oxford, who was discovered dead in her bathroom on the night of Friday the 29th ult. It appeared that at about eleven o’clock the deceased lady proceeded to take a bath, leaving Mr. Spiers and one of his sons engaged in writing. Some time afterwards, finding that Mrs. Spiers had not gone to her bed-room, Mr. Spiers went to the bathroom, and found her lying on the floor beside the bath, and apparently in a lifeless state. Medical assistance was procured without loss of time, but all was of no avail, as there in reason to believe that the deceased had breathed her last half-an-hour before she was discovered by her disconsolate husband. An inquest was held on the body, a post mortem examination having previously been made, and it was clearly proved that the deceased died of disease of the heart, under which she must at the time have been suffering, and a verdict to that effect was returned by the Jury. — Mrs. Spiers, who was in her forty-first year, has left twelve children to mourn their sad and sudden bereavement, besides a large circle of friends, who knew and appreciated her many amiable qualities. Mr. Alderman Spiers, it will be remembered, filled the office of Chief Magistrate of this City in 1854, and during his mayoralty gave his memorable Conversazione at the Town Hall, when upwards of 1200 persons were present, and the guests were received by Mrs. Spiers with much affability. But it was in the domestic and private circle that her amiable qualities were more prominently seen, and few who ever visited it will forget that happy home of which she was the very light and centre. The suddenness of the blow which has rendered desolate that home, and deprived a large and young family of a devoted and affectionate parent, has awakened general sympathy, and few have passed away from us whose amiable qualities will be more fondly cherished in remembrance. — The funeral of the deceased took place on Thursday last, and her remains were interred in the St. Sepulchre burial-ground, a large and sorrowing circle of relatives and friends following her to her last home.

Just over a year later Spiers's youngest son Hubert William Spiers died from scarlet fever at the age of three on 6 January 1860 and was buried in St Sepulchre's Cemetery (probably in his mother's grave) on 8 January.

The 1861 census shows Spiers as a widower, described as a “China & Glass Merchant, Fancy Manufacturer, Stationer & Perfumier & Alderman & Magistrate”, living at 14 St Giles Street with his children Samuel (21), described as “Assistant and superintendent of my business”, and Elizabeth (17), Charlotte (16), Alice (15), Arthur (7), and Ernest (6), who were all at school. Also living them was Spiers' nephew Joseph Standen (19), who was a tailor. His son Richard (22) is hard to find. Frank (19), described as being in the china trade, was lodging at Edgbaston. The other three children were at boarding school in Oxford: Walter (12) at Magdalen College School, and Florence (10) and Agnes (9) at 7 Park Villas with a governess/schoolmistress Miss Anne Wagstaffe.

In August 1863 Spiers held a closing-down sale at 46 Cornmarket, and the shop closed on 8 October. His former manager, Thomas Seaman, inserted the following advertisement in Jackson's Oxford Journal on 10 October 1863, stating that he was going to open his own shop at 4 Magdalen Street::

Seaman's notice of removal to Magdalen Street

After the closure of his Cornmarket shop, Richard Spiers accused Seaman of embezzlement back in 1860 and 1862. Jackson's Oxford Journal of 16 July 1864 reports at length on the court case, which was held at the Oxfordshire Midsummer Assizes at the Crown Court in Oxford. Counsel for the defence remarked: "… it would appear that Mr. Spiers, like many men who had eventually risen to eminence and wealth, had been at different times short of the ready.” The benefit of the doubt was given to Seaman, who was found not guilty.

In 1868 Spiers & Sons were appointed stationers and china & glass merchants to the Prince of Wales.

At the time of the 1871 census Richard Spiers (64), who described himself as an “Alderman & Magistrate of Oxford & General Merchant” was at home at 14 St Giles's Street with four of his children: Samuel (31), described as a stationer's assistant, Frank (29), described as a china merchant's assistant, Elizabeth (27), and Florence (20), plus two general servants. His daughter Alice (24) was staying at 61 St Giles's Street with Mrs Mary Standen, the wife of her cousin Joseph Standen. Richard (32) was an architect, living at 21 Bernard Street, St Pancras, and three of his siblings were living with him: Charlotte (26), Walter (22), who was an architect's clerk, and Ernest (16) who was a solicitor's articled clerk, plus a cook and housemaid. Agnes (19) is hard to find and may have been working abroad as a governess, while Arthur (17) was boarding at The King's School, Canterbury.

On 19 October 1871 his son Arthur Hood Spiers was admitted as a pensioner at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge.

The Spiers business may have gone downhill under the management of Spiers’s sons Samuel and Frank, because in Jackson’s Oxford Journal of 1 June 1872 under the heading “Local liquidation cases” it was reported that the following petition had been filed:

Re Richard James Spiers, china merchant, stationer, and general fancy warehouseman, trading under the style of “Spiers and Son.” On the 17th of June, in the Clarendon Hotel.

Spiers resigned from being an Alderman in the year of his bankruptcy, and took no further part in public affairs.

At the end of 1872 Spiers moved out of 14 St Giles’s Street, taking a lease on Huntercombe at 9 Blackhall Road. This was a large house with four sitting rooms, seven bed and dressing rooms, a bathroom, and an additional two-storey building at the back.

On 12 July 1877 at St Andrew's Church in Headington his son Samuel Patey Spiers  (37), described as a stationer of the High Street, married Mrs Elizabeth Ann Foster, née Prickett (39), the widow of John T. Foster.

† Richard James Spiers died at 9 Blackhall Road on 28 September 1877 at the age of 71, and his funeral service was at St Giles’s Church on 2 October 1877: he was buried with his wife in St Sepulchre's Cemetery on 2 October (see grave).

His personal effects came to nearly £2,000. His executors were his son Richard Phené Spiers, who was now an architect living at 21 Bernard Street, Russell Square, Middlesex; his son Samuel Patey Spiers, a china merchant of Oxford; and Richard Spiers Standen, a tailor of 16 Waterloo Place, Middlesex and the son of his sister Katharine.

His obituary in Jackson’s Oxford Journal on 29 September 1877 read:

THE LATE MR. R. J. SPIERS.— Our obituary to-day records the death of another old and much respected citizen, Mr. Richard James Spiers. Mr. Spiers had for many years conducted the well-known business in the High-street, and was distinguished as a man of considerable taste. He was a Justice of the Peace for the City; he served the office of Sheriff in 1851, and of Mayor in 1853, and a very handsome testimonial was presented to him for the spirited manner in which he had performed the duties of that office. He was elected an Alderman in 1851, but he resigned his gown in 1872, since which period he has taken little or no part in public affairs. He stood very high as a Freemason, having filled the highest offices in the Lodges here, and only a short time ago a splendid testimonial was presented to him, at the hands of Prince Leopold, for the many services he had rendered to the Craft and as a mark of esteem on the part of the brethren. Mr. Spiers had been gradually declining in health for some months, and his death is deeply deplored by his numerous family and his many friends.

Just four days after his funeral, on 6 October 1877, his house was advertised for sale in Jackson’s Oxford Journal:

"Huntercombe," Black Hall Road, Oxford.
Mr. F. R. PIKE
Begs to announce he is favoured with instructions by the representatives of the late R. J. Spiers, Esq., to dispose (by PRIVATE CONTRACT), — Of the above charming SEMI-DETACHED VILLA, pleasantly situated within five minutes walk of the centre of the city, and within two minutes of the Parks, the New Museum, Keble College, the Schools, and other principal University Buildings; it contains four sitting rooms, seven bed and dressing rooms, bath room, one large attic, excellent domestic offices, and cellarage, large garden in high cultivation, with two-story buildings at the back easily convertable into stable and coach-house. The fittings throughout are of a very superior quality and in the most exquisite taste, and every modern improvement in the way of ventilation, heating apparatus, and other sanitary appliances has been adopted.

Spiers & Son closed in 1890.


Richard James Spiers’s eleven surviving children
  • Richard Phené Spiers (born 1838) trained as an architect and never married. At the time of the 1881 census he was aged 42 and the head of the household at 21 Bernard Street, St Pancras, a large 13-roomed house, where he was living with four of his unmarried siblings: Elizabeth (37), Charlotte (36), Walter (32), and Ernest (26). He remained at this address for the rest of his life. In 1891 only his sisters Elizabeth and Charlotte were living with him; in 1901 he was with his two sisters and also his brother Walter; and in 1911 only his sister Charlotte. Richard died at 21 Bernard Street at the age of 78 on 3 October 1916. His effects came to £10,761 3s. 8d., and his executors were his brother Walter and sister Alice.
    See entry for Richard Phené Spiers in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
    and also his
    Wikipedia entry and his 1880 watercolour of Christ Church
  • Samuel Patey Spiers (born 1840) managed his father's business after his death. On 1 September 1880 his wife Elizabeth gave birth to twin boys: Richard Aubrey Howard Spiers and Hubert Frank Spiers. They lived at Wychbourne in the Woodstock Road. Samuel died at Bournemouth at the age of 51 on 27 November 1891 and was buried with his father in St Sepulchre's Cemetery, Oxford.
  • Frank Edward Spiers (born 1841) worked as a commission agent, and was lodging in Kilburn in 1881 and at different addresses in St Pancras in 1911. He never married, and died at 81 Duke's Avenue, Chiswick at the age of 83 on 26 June 1925. His effects came to £396 19s. 5d., and his executors were his brother Arthur and his nephew Richard.
  • Elizabeth Joy Spiers (born 1843), known as Bessie, was a landscape painter who exhibited at the Royal Academy: details here. She never married. At the time of the 1891 census she was aged 47 and described herself as an artist, and was living at 21 Bernard Street, St Pancras, London with her eldest brother Richard; she was still living with him at the time of the 1891 and 1901 censuses. She died at the age of 58 at her brother's house on 13 September 1901. Her effects came to £1,293 7s., and her executors were her brothers Richard and Walter and her sister Charlotte.
  • Charlotte Horn Spiers (born 1844) was an artist at Minton's Art Pottery Studio at Kensington Gore and also painted landscapes: details here. She never married, and at the time of the 1881, 1891, 1901, and 1911 censuses she was living with her elder brother Richard at 21 Bernard Street, St Pancras, London. She was still living at that house when on 7 September 1914 she died at Christchurch, Hampshire at the age of 69 on 7 September 1914. Her effects came to £1,312 18s. 6d., and her executors were her brothers Richard and Walter.
  • Alice Jane Mary Spiers (born 1846) never married nor had any profession. At the time of the 1911 census when she was aged 65 she was paying a visit to the Misses Semples at 8 Torrington Square, London. She died at the age of 87 on 4 April 1933 at 5 St Bernard House, 42 Bernard Street, London. Her effects came to £5,733 5s. 3d., and her executors were her brother Arthur and her nephew Hubert (Samuel's son).
  • Walter Lewis Spiers (born 1848) was an architect and district surveyor. He never married, and at the time of the 1891 and 1901 censuses he was living at 21 Bernard Street, St Pancras, London with his older brother Richard. He was Curator of Sir John Soane’s Museum at 13 Lincoln's Inn Fields from 1904, and was living there at the time of the 1911 census. He died at that address at the age of 68 on 28 May 1917. His effects came to £7,634 4s. 3d. and his executors were his sister Florence and his nephew Richard.
    See entry for Walter Lewis Spiers in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography and some of his works in the Royal Academy collection here
  • Florence Ellen Pigott Spiers (born 1850) never married. She is hard to find in the censuses of 1881, 1891, and 1901 and may have been working abroad as a governess. At the time of the 1911 she was a retired governess aged 60 living on her own with a servant at the North Lodge, Warfield Park, Bracknell, Berkshire. By 1935 she was living at a subdivided house at 32 Brunswick Square, London. She died at 12 Buckland Crescent, Swiss Cottage, London at the age of 91 on 16 March 1942 and was cremated at Golders Green two days later. Her effects came to £7,734 13s., and her executor was her nephew Hubert Frank Spiers and her solicitor. Her death notice stated that she was the only remaining member of the family of the late Alderman Richard James Spiers of Oxford.
  • Agnes Decima Spiers (born 1851) never married. She was a governess, and may have been abroad at the time of the 1881 and 1891 censuses. In 1901 she was paying visit to her brother Richard and siblings Elizabeth, Charlotte, and Walter who lived together in London and, aged 49, she described herself as a retired governess. In 1911 she was living alone at Copse Road, Cobham, Surrey with a housekeeper, plus the housekeeper's husband and nurse child. In 1939 she was living at 59 Mount Ararat Road, Richmond, the home of the retired architect Edward D'Ingley. She died at that address at the age of 89 on 14 June 1941. Her effects came to £4.349 6s. 2d.
  • Arthur Hood Spiers (born 1853) obtained his M.A. at the University of Cambridge. He was aged 29 in 1881 and working as an assistant master (Mathematics) at Newston College at Wolborough, Newton Abbott: he still held this position in 1891 and 1901. From 1903 to 1919 he was Mathematics master at Gresham’s School in Holt, Norfolk and can be seen living there in the 1911 census. He died at 2 Mortimer Place, Kilburn at the age of 86 on 2 January 1940. His effects came to £2,918 1s. 9d., and his executors were his nephew Hubert Spiers and his solicitor.
  • Ernest George Spiers (born 1854) was admitted as a solicitor in 1877 and became a partner of Rooks & Co. He never married, and at the time of the 1881 census he was living with his brother Richard at 21 Bernard Street, St Pancras. His address was given as 12 New Inn, Middlesex and 16 King Street, Cheapside, London when he died at Southend-on-Sea on 17 July 1896, and he was buried at Woking. His effects came to £5,063 14s. 4d., and his executors were his brothers Richard and Walter Spiers and his solicitor.
    See his obituary in The Cantuarian vol. IV, No. 21, p. 245

See also:

  • *Register of dates relating to family and friends kept by Richard J. Spiers (with later entries in another hand)
    Transcript in Excel
  • The Spiers grave in St Sepulchre's Cemetery
  • *Register of dates relating to family and friends kept by Arthur Hood Spiers (Richard J. Spiers’s eleventh child)
  • *Richard J. Spiers, “Memorandum of an autumn tour in 1836”
  • *Richard J. Spiers, “Journal of my wedding tour: 1837”
  • Jackson’s Oxford Journal, 21 September 1805: Announcement of Spiers’s father’s marriage
  • Jackson’s Oxford Journal, 22 July 1837: Announcement of Spiers’s marriage
  • Jackson’s Oxford Journal, 19 August 1854: “The Mayor’s recent reception”
  • Illustrated London News, 30 June 1855: “Testimonial to Mr Alderman Spiers, the late Mayor of Oxford”
  • Jackson’s Oxford Journal, 12 January 1856: Obituary of Richard Spiers’s father of same name
  • Jackson’s Oxford Journal, 29 September 1877: Obituary of Richard Spiers himself
  • 1841 Census: Oxford (St Mary Magdalen), 891/11/19
  • 1851 Census: Oxford (St Giles), 1727/395
  • 1861 Census: Oxford (St Giles), 892/53
  • 1871 Census: Oxford (St Paul), 1436/78

* These four sources were bought at a house sale in Devon in 2009, following the death of the last Spiers family member in the area.


Richard Spiers was the cousin of Edwin Thomas Spiers (Mayor 1866/7).

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 23 July, 2021

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