Oxford History: Mayors & Lord Mayors

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Robert Worminghall

Mayor of Oxford 1298/9


Robert Worminghall (or de Wormhale/Wormenhale) appears to have been the older brother of Philip Worminghall (Mayor in 1298). He was the wealthiest of the fourteenth-century merchants of Oxford, settling there soon after 1279.

Robert was elected Junior Bailiff in 1290.

Robert and Philip Worminghall were both ordered to be expelled from Oxford in 1298 for their involvement in a town-and-gown riot that had started when clerks attacked a bailiff at Carfax, and a layman and clerk were killed. Notwithstanding this, at Michaelmas the same year Robert was elected Mayor for 1298/9.

It is possible that he also served again for a period at the end of the mayoral year 1303/4, following the death of the Mayor Thomas de Sowey.

Anthony Wood records that in 1307 Billing Hall in the parish of St Peter-le-Bailey was bequeathed to Worminghall by Rose Billing, who conveyed it the same year to John Northern (alias Loughborough).

In the royal tallage of 1312, Robert was assessed on goods worth £70 and rent of £17 10s.: he and Philip Worminghall (probably his brother) were by far the most prominent merchants in the city.

In 1317 Worminghall must have been thinking of his death, as he founded a chantry in the Church of St Peter-le-Bailey (the earliest recorded perpetual chantry to commemorate an individual or family in Oxford). Anthony Wood writes:

In St Andrew’s Chappel Robert de Wormenhale, a burgesse of Oxon and several times mayor of the same, founded with leave from the king a chantry therin, A.D. 1317; assigning for the maintenance of a chapleine (to pray daily there for his, his ancestors’, and all soules faithfull deceased) an annuall revenew out of a messuage in St Martin’s parish.

It appears, however, that the chantry was not founded until 1323, when he provided that the chaplain should receive 70s. a year to celebrate as often as possible at St Andrew’s altar.

Worminghall died early in 1324 and was buried in St Peter-le-Bailey churchyard (now Bonn Square). In his will he left two cottages in the parish of St Peter-le-Bailey “super le mounts”. He bequeathed the right of presentation to his chantry to his son Andrew, who became Mayor in 1327.


See also:

  • Philip Worminghall (Mayor 1310), probably his younger brother
  • Andrew Worminghall (Mayor 1327), his son
  • Liber Albus, pp. 4-5; MS Oxon c 396 f.43 for deaths of Philip and Robert Worminghall
  • Liber testamentorum burgensium Oxon, fol. 7; Twyne XXIII 510
  • MS Oxon b 223, f.27v

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 11 September, 2012

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