Mayor of Oxford 1837/8 and 1840/1
Charles Tawney (1780–1853) was the younger son of Henry Tawney (a carpenter and builder of St Peter-in-the-East parish, Oxford who had been matriculated “privilegiatus” on 15 July 1772) and Elizabeth Treacher, who had married at Pyrton on 1 October 1772. His grandfather, Robert Tawney, was the brother of Richard Tawney II, a brewer and former Mayor.
Charles was baptised on 24 December 1780 at Holywell Church, where his three older siblings were also baptised (Richard in 1774, Robert Edward in 1776, and Mary in 1778). His sister Mary died in 1799 at the age of 21; his father in 1798 at the age of 52; his brother Robert Edward in 1800 at the age of 23; and his mother Elizabeth in 1821 at the age of 71.
On 21 December 1804 Tawney (described as “Charles Tawney Esq of Headington”) married Ann Copland (daughter of G. Copland Esq of Clapham) at Holy Trinity Church, Clapham. The couple had three children, who were all born at Burcot:
- Elizabeth Copland Tawney (born on 8 February 1810 and baptised at Dorchester);
- Harry or Henry Copland Tawney (born 1811);
- Martha Copland Tawney (born on 9 August 1813 and baptised at Dorchester).
The Tawney family left Burcot around the end of 1820, as this extract from Jackson’s Oxford Journal of 2 September 1820 shows:
Charles was a partner with Henry Hall in the Swan Brewery in St Thomas’s (Hall & Tawney), and he may have inherited his share in the brewery from his mother’s first cousin, the former Mayor Sir John Treacher.
By 1818 Tawney was a Governor of the Radcliffe Infirmary. He took the role seriously, personally superintending the construction of a machine for rheumatic patients, and his eldest daughter, Elizabeth Copland Tawney, married the Physician of the Infirmary, Charles Joseph Bishop, at Holywell Church on 21 February 1832.
Tawney came on to the Common Council in 1831 and was elected Junior Chamberlain in 1832. After the passing of the Municipal Corporations Act, he was elected councillor for the North Ward on 26 December 1835 and six days later was elected an Alderman for three years.
In 1837 Tawney was elected Mayor of Oxford (for 1837/8), and was the fourth of the five members of the Tawney family to hold this office. Queen Victoria was crowned during his ”The consideration of the claim of the City to attend her Majesty’s Coronation”. Mr Talboys described it as “an idle and expensive ceremony”, and Mr Warner said that he would be glad to see such “childish and expensive pageants” done away with altogether. Tawney said that if there were a royal banquet, he would pay all his expenses out of his own pocket, so it seems likely that he did attend the ceremony.
In his mayoral year Tawney issued an order for the positive exclusion of the gipsies from St Giles’ Fair, resulting in a rhyme in the Oxford Herald called, “The gipsies’ humble petition and remonstrance, addressed to the Worshipful Mayor of Oxford”.
In 1840 Tawney was again elected Mayor of Oxford (for 1840/1). At the time of the 1841 census, when he was 60, he is described as a brewer and was living at Paradise Street with his wife, his son Henry (29), and and his younger daughter Martha (27).
In 1842 Tawney inherited Headington Lodge, a mansion in five acres of garden in the present Osler Road in Headington. Although his main residence was at Brewery House in Paradise Street, he must have used Headington Lodge as his country retreat, as the Headington rent-book shows him as both owner and occupier. He certainly did good works in Headington, including buying the land on which Headington National School (now St Andrew’s Primary School) was built in 1847/8.
At the time of the 1851 census he was still living in Paradise Street at the age of 70 with his wife and his son Henry, who at 39 was unmarried and described simply as a “gentleman”.
Tawney died in about June 1853 and his wife a year later. They were buried in Holywell Cemetery (Plots A72 and 74). The family inheritance passed to his two surviving children, Henry and Elizabeth (Henry was buried with his parents in 1878.)
Charles’s inheritance in Headington had come to him by a complicated route. Richard Tawney the brewer had one daughter, Jane, by his first marriage and two sons, Richard and Edward (both also Mayors), by his second. Neither Richard nor Edward had any children to whom they could pass on the family brewing firm, but Jane’s daughter (also called Jane) had married her cousin Robert Tawney, so that her daughter Ann was doubly related. When Edward died in 1800, he left everything to Ann Tawney (who in 1777 had married the apothecary Theophilus Wharton) for her lifetime, and to her eldest son Theophilus Wharton junior (born 1778) after her death. Theophilus junior had no children, and so his sister Jane, who married the brewer James Morrell, inherited everything, and it passed on to their son Mark Theophilus Morrell He died in 1842 at the age of 29, leaving Headington Lodge, a mansion built by his uncle, to his cousin Charles Tawney.
- Richard Tawney I, his great-great uncle (Mayor in 1748)
- Richard Tawney II, his first cousin twice removed (Mayor in 1764/5, 1778/9, and 1790)
- Edward Tawney, his first cousin twice removed (Mayor in 1772, 1784, and 1798)
- Lilia Sophia Tawney
- Brigid Allen, Morrells of Oxford. The Family and their Brewery 1743–1993 (Oxfordshire Books, 1994), esp. Tawney family tree on p. 6 and pp. xix, 41, and 46
- (his father), PCC Will PROB 11/1315 (Will of Henry Tawney, Carpenter of Holywell Oxford, proved 16 November 1798)
- Jackson’s Oxford Journal, 29 December 1804: Announcement of Tawney’s marriage
- 1841 Census: Oxford (St Thomas), 891/17/18]
- 1851 Census: Oxford (St Thomas), 1728/350
- Jackson’s Oxford Journal, 18 June 1853: Charles Tawney’s obituary
- PCC Will PROB 11/2176 (Will of Charles Tawney of Oxford, proved 15 July 1853)