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Oxford Inscriptions: The Levellers


Inscription to the Levellers

TO THE MEMORY OF
Private BIGGS and Private PIGGEN
EXECUTED LIKE THEIR LEVELLER COLLEAGUES
AT BURFORD BY FORCES LOYAL TO CROMWELL.
THEY WERE SHOT NEAR THIS PLACE
FOR THEIR PART IN THE SECOND MUTINY
OF THE OXFORD GARRISON
ON 18th SEPTEMBER 1649

Wikipedia: The Levellers

John Rees: “Leveller organisation and the dynamic
of the English Revolution
” (doctoral thesis, 2014)

This inscription was set up in the 1980s near the square in Gloucester Green, where they were executed as mutineers on 18 September 1649 following the Oxford Mutiny. (Four months earlier on 17 May three Levellers had been shot in Burford, Oxfordshire). They were both buried in St Mary Magdalen churchyard the next day: Stephen Biggs is described in the register as a soldier “in the Corronals Company” and Roger Piggen (recorded as Biggins) as a soldier “in the Maiors company”.

Anthony Wood mentions the Levellers' Rising in Oxford, writing in September 1649 of an order (to be approved in Convocation on 30 October) stating that the Proctor, the Warden of Wadham College, and a Canon of Christ Church should be appointed

to confer with the mayor and citizens about the better being and security of this place [Oxford], whether they think fit is should be dismantled or retained a garrison still or what other course might be taken for the security of the University and city. — This consultation was upon the levellers rising in Oxford. The officers that quell'd them had presents given to them by the University.

(King Charles I had been executed on 30 January 1649 and the University of Oxford, which had been extremely Royalist, was now supporting the new administration: they conferred an honorary Doctor of Civil Law degree on Oliver Cromwell on 19 May 1649, and he served as Chancellor of the University in 1650/1.


Another (unrelated) plaque in Gloucester Green

Gloucester Green

This plaque in Gloucester Green marks its reopening in 1989 after new shops and flats were built there:

GLOUCESTER GREEN
WAS OFFICIALLY OPENED
THURSDAY 26TH OCTOBER, 1989
BY COUNCILLOR W.G.H. FAGG,
CHAIR, ESTATES COMMITTEE,
OXFORD CITY COUNCIL,
WITH CLLR. MRS P.A.T. YARDLEY,
LORD MAYOR OF OXFORD
IN ATTENDANCE
A DEVELOPMENT BY GRE PROPERTIES

 

Stephanie Jenkins