Oxford History: Mayors & Lord Mayors


Laurence Kepeharm

Mayor of Oxford from at least 1205–1207

Laurence Kepeharm (or Kepeharme / Cepharme / Chepeharm) was the first person to be described as the chief officer (Sheriff rather than Mayor) of Oxford. He was the son of John Kepeharm (who had been sole alderman of the merchant guild in 1190) and his wife Alice.

The Kepeharm family had held land in Oxford from the 1130s, and Anthony Wood refers to Kepeharm Hall, Kepeharm Lane (known as “Kepeharme’s twychen in parochia S. Aldati”, and stretching from St Aldate’s to Pennyfarthing Street) as existing in the mid-twelfth century. The name Kepeharm appears to be unique to this one Oxford family.

In 1192 Kepeharm owed the King £5 for the postponement of his pilgrimage or crusade.

Kepeharm married Christine Pady (who may have been a daughter of the Mayor John Pady). Their daughter married John Sewy, a Bailiff on the council.

Kepeharm was sole Alderman in about 1200, and Mayor of Oxford from at least 1205 to 1207. The earliest Mayors held office for life, so Kepeharm must have died by 1209, when there was a different Mayor. He appears to have died without male heirs, as some of his property was inherited by his son-in-law, John Sewy.

Anthony Wood records that Kepeharm gave Gulp Hall to St Frideswide’s Priory, and that it was “confirmed afterward by Christian his wife in her widowhood”.

See also:

  • Wood’s City of Oxford, I, pp. 198-200 (“Kepeharme’s Lanel”, including a genealogy of the Kepeharms, and “Kepeharme Hall”)
  • Wood’s City of Oxford, III, pp. 58–60 (“Off the name Kepeharme in Oxford”)
  • The Surnames of Oxfordshire, pp. 25–6

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 16 November, 2016

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