Oxford History: Mayors & Lord Mayors

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William of Bicester

Mayor of Oxford 1311/12, 1312/13, 1313/14, 1314/15, 1317/18, 1325/6,
1329/30, 1330/1, 1331/2, 1332/3, 1333/4, 1334/5, and 1339/40


William of Bicester (or de Burcestre/Burchester/Berencestre/Burnchester/Byrcestre) (d.1341) was also known as de Bourgh/de Burgo or as le Katour/Chatur/Achatour. He was the son of a man of the same name and an Oxford merchant.

Anthony Wood mentions that William of Bicester owned a tenement in the High Street immediately to the west of Spicer’s Hall (which in turn was to the west of Alfred Street) in the parish of All Saints.

Bicester was elected Junior Bailiff in 1303, and Senior Bailiff in 1304, 1307, and 1309. He was elected Mayor four years in succession from 1311/12 to 1314/15, and again in 1317.

Bicester married Eleanor, the widow of Philip Worminghall (Mayor in 1310/11). He inherited a great deal of property via his wife, including part of Holywell Mill and the Mitre Inn.

In 1319 Bicester was summoned to London with other merchants to make ordinances for the staple.

In 1322 Bicester was appointed with two others to deliver the gaol, and in 1324 he was granted a licence with Adam de Brome and John de Shirbourne and the Abey of Osney to alienate 6½ acres of land for the enlargement of the House of the White Friars.

After an eight-year gap Bicester was elected Mayor again in 1325, and was an Alderman in 1327.

Bicester was exporting wool through London in 1328.

In 1331 Bicester and his wife sold his part of Holywell Mill. Anthony Wood records:

As for the other mediety; it having bin successively possest by privat persons was at length with two acres of ground called “Mill acres” conveyed to certaine clerks of [Merton] College by William Burchestre, a burgesse of Oxon, and Alienor his wife 5 Edward III.

Bicester’s daughter Alice married Richard Carey, who was himself to be elected Mayor six times. Their son Nicholas may have studied at the University, as Bicester provided him with books.

Bicester was elected Mayor again for six years in succession from 1329/30 to 1334/5. Twyne records that in 1334 Bicester was accused by a butcher of carrying out his mayoral duties so badly that during his term of office the town of Oxford had declined faster than ever before.

By 1333 Bicester had built the chapel of St Anne in All Saints Church.

Bicester was elected Mayor for the thirteenth and last time in 1339/40. He died in 1341. He left property (including the Mitre) to found a chantry in St Anne’s chapel in All Saints Church for himself, his family, and his friends. His widow, his surviving son Nicholas, and his son-in-law Richard Carey were to die of the Black Death in 1349, and the chantry was not established until 1350.


See also:

  • References from VCH: Cal. Lond. Letter Bk C, 106; Cal. Close, 1327–30, 284; Twyne xxiv, p. 276; MS Oxon c 396, ff. 35–7; Merton College Mun. Cal. Oxon. Red. ii, p. 10–11

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 11 September, 2012

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