Oxford History: Mayors & Lord Mayors


Herbert Parsons

Mayor of Oxford 1810/11 and 1820/1

Herbert Parsons (1763–1839) was son of Isaac Parsons of Oxford.

His older brother John was matriculated at the University of Oxford from Wadham College in 1777 at the age of 15, and was to become Master of Balliol (1798–1819), Vice-Chancellor of the University (1807 to 1810), and Bishop of Peterborough (1813–1819).

Herbert, however, was destined to stay in the family business, and in 1782 at the age of 19 he started to work for his cousin John Parsons (Mayor in 1788 and 1808) at the Old Bank at 93 High Street, Oxford. He was awarded his freedom for 20 guineas in May 1790, and was chosen as one of the 24 members of the Common Council on 1 October 1792. In 1793 he was appointed a Cloth Searcher.

On 1 September 1795 Parsons married Ann Weston (the daughter of Richard Weston who had the lease of 91 High Street). He was then described as being of St Peter-in-the-East parish.

In 1797 Parsons was named as the Mayor’s Chamberlain by the new Mayor, Edward Tawney.

In 1798 his cousin John extended the bank, building another five bays on the site of 93 High Street. Herbert and Ann were given the upstairs residence which was in the parish of St Mary the Virgin, just opposite the church. They had the following children there:

  • John Parsons (born on 1 June 1799 and baptised the same day at St Mary the Virgin Church)
  • Herbert Parsons (born on 26 June 1800 and baptised at St Mary the Virgin Church the next day; buried there two months later)
  • Ann Parsons (died in infancy in 1804).

In 1803 Parsons was elected Senior Bailiff; and in 1810 Mayor for the first time (for 1810/11).

In 1816 Richard Weston died and left the lease of 91 High Street to his daughter Ann, Parsons’s wife.

In 1820 Parsons was elected Mayor a second time (for 1820/1). During his year of office, on 23 October 1820, he laid the foundation stone of the new St Martin’s Church at Carfax; and on 19 July 1821, together with the Lord Mayor of London, he performed the traditional right of serving as butler at the Coronation Banquet of George IV; he declined, however, the offer of a baronetcy that was pressed upon him at the time of the coronation.

In 1827 he was elected an Alderman.

Parsons’s wife Ann died on 24 December 1833 at the age of 69 and was buried inside the church of St Mary the Virgin .

Parsons himself died on 18 January 1839 at 93 High Street, and was buried in the same vault as his wife. A tablet on the inside of the south wall of the church reads as follows:

In a Vault
Beneath lies buried
Ann the Wife of Herbert Parsons Esqr.
of this City
She died Decr. 24th 1833
Aged 69 years
Also the Remains of
Herbert Parsons Esqr.
who died Janry 18th 1839
Aged 75 years

Parsons’ surviving son

Herbert’s son John continued in the family business, getting five children baptised at St Mary’s with his two wives Eliza and Elizabeth.

Parsons’s grandson, Herbert (1822–1911) went up to Balliol in 1838 and later lived at the Manor House, Elsfield.

See also:

  • John Parsons, Mayor in 1788 and 1809 (his cousin)
  • L.F. Bradburn, The Old Bank (92 and 93 High Street) Oxford (Oxford, 1977)
  • In the Plate Room of the Town Hall: Coronation cup and cover of George IV presented to Parsons
  • “Bill of costs of … London agent to the Mayor of Oxford for the coronation of George IV, 1821”, in Collecteana (4th series) (Oxford Historical Society, 1905)
  • Jackson’s Oxford Journal, 19January 1839: Announcement of Parsons’ death
  • PCC Will PROB 11/1907 (Will of Herbert Parsons, Alderman of Oxford, proved 25 February 1839)

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 11 September, 2012

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