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Thomas Ensworth (1780–1857)

Mayor of Oxford 1825–6


Thomas Ensworth or Endsworth was was born on 26 February 1780 and baptised the same day at St Michael's Church. His father, Thomas Ensworth senior, was a wine and brandy merchant in Cornmarket and was described as being “of St Michael’s parish” when he married Mary Hyde at St Thomas’s Church on 16 June 1767.

Thomas was probably born at 38 Cornmarket Street in St Michael’s parish, as eight years earlier in 1772 a survey of every house in the city was taken in consequence of the Mileways Act of 1771, and according to Salter that shop, which had a frontage of 6 yards, 0 ft. and 3 in., was then in the occupation of his father.

Thomas's four older siblings were also baptised at St Michael-at-the-Northgate Church: an earlier Thomas (born 1772, died 1773); Mary Ann (1773); Sarah (1776, died the same year); and Martha (1777).

Thomas’s father was granted his freedom on 28 January 1788 and just five months later on 30 June took on Thomas, aged 14, as his apprentice.

The Ensworths must have moved their business into the south part of Cornmarket Street that lies in St Martin's parish, as after the death of his mother in 1799 (at the age of 62) and of his father in 1806 (at the age 70), Thomas placed a tablet to them in St Martin’s Church at Carfax. (When that church was demolished in 1896, the tablet was moved to the north wall of All Saints Church, now Lincoln College Library.) By this time Thomas was himself a wine merchant.

Thomas’s sister Martha Ensworth married Thomas Wyatt at St Martin’s Church in 1802; his only other surviving siblilng, Mary Ann Ensworth, did not marry: she died at the age of 32, and was buried at St Martin's Church in August 1806.

On 13 November 1805 at St Saviour’s Church, Southwark, Thomas Ensworth married Mary Elizabeth Bowles of West Hanney in Berkshire: they were both then living it that parish. The marriage was announced in Jackson’s Oxford Journal, and the bridegroom was described as “Mr Thomas Ensworth junior, wine merchant of Oxford”. They appear to have had just one child:

  • Thomas Ensworth junior (baptised on 16 June 1807 at St Martin’s Church in Oxford and was buried there the next year).

Ensworth came on to the council in 1809 and was elected Senior Chamberlain in 1816 and Junior Bailiff in 1818

He was elected Mayor of Oxford in September 1825 (for 1825/6), after the election of William Slatter for a second consecutive term of office was held to be invalid. In July 1826, towards the end of his mayoral year, Ensworth laid on lavish entertainments when the Lord Mayor of London (William Venables) paid a visit to Oxford.

Ensworth appears to have taken early retirement and moved out to Botley when he was about 50. On 4 August 1827, the Windsor & Eton Express reported:

On Thursday a fire broke out at Haslington Farm, near Botley, in the occupation of T. Ensworth, Esq., of Oxford, caused by a boy shooting at some birds in the barn. By this calamity, two cottages, one barn, a stable, cart hovel, part of a hay rick, with several farming implements in the barn, were entirely consumed. When the Earl of Abingdon heard of the fire, his lordship immediately sent all his workmen, and his fire-engine, to assist in extinguishing the flames.

The Ensworth wine business does not appear in directories after 1830. Around this time he moved back into the city, building Walton House between Woodstock Road and Walton Street (a building which was later to become the original hall of residence of Somerville College).

In September 1831 Ensworth was elected an Alderman.

After the passing of the Municipal Corporations Act, Ensworth was elected councillor for the North Ward on 26 December 1835 and six days later was elected an Alderman for three years.

At the time of the 1841 census Ensworth and his wife Mary were listed at Walton House (which is simply described as being in “St Giles Road”).

They were also listed there in 1851, when Ensworth was 71 and his wife was 70, looked after by four servants. He was described as a retired wine merchant

† Thomas Ensworth must have died near the end of 1856 or the beginning of 1857 as his death was registered in the Headington district (which included north Oxford) in the first quarter of 1857, and on 4 July 1857 his farm premises in Botley were described as “occupied by the late Mr Thomas Ensworth”.

His widow Mary died in St Giles' parish at the age of 77 on 25 December 1857.


See also:

  • Chaplain to the Mayoralty [Robert Crawford Dillon], The Lord Mayor’s Visit to Oxford, in the Month of July, 1826 (Longman, Rees, Orme, Browne & Green, 1826)
  • Malcolm Graham, Oxford City Apprentices 1697–1800, entry numbered 2833
  • Jackson’s Oxford Journal, 16 November 1805: Marriage announcement of Ensworth
  • PCC Will PROB 11/2253/99 (Will of Thomas Ensworth of Oxford, proved 8 June 1857)
  • 1841 Census: Oxford (St Giles), 891/06/5
  • 1851 Census: Oxford (Summertown), 1727/487

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 25 September, 2018

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