Oxford History: Mayors & Lord Mayors


Richard Sheen (1784–1840)

Mayor of Oxford 1831/2 and 1838/9

Richard Sheen was born in 1784, the son of John Sheen, a gentleman of Dorchester, Oxfordshire.

Sheen was apprenticed to the Oxford grocer and tallow-chandler James Costar for seven years from 7 February 1799, and later became a partner of Andrew Bridgewater in the grocery business Bridgewater & Sheen at 110 High Street (a shop in St Mary the Virgin parish demolished in 1873 to make way for King Edward Street).

In 1830 Sheen was listed in Pigot’s Directory as running his own shop in Bridgewater’s old premises at 110 High Street

Sheen came on to the council in 1809. He was elected Senior Chamberlain in 1812 and Senior Bailiff in 1814, but it was not until 11 February 1831 that he was elected one of the eight Assistants.

In September 1831 he was elected Mayor of Oxford (for 1831/2). On 4 August 1832 he perambulated the boundary of the city, which did not yet include St Clement's (brief details).

After the passing of the Municipal Corporations Act of 1835, Sheen was chosen as a Councillor for the South Ward on 26 December 1836, and five days later was elected an Alderman for six years. In November 1838 he was elected Mayor of Oxford for a second year (for 1838/9).

In Robson's Commercial Directory of 1839 Sheen was still described as a grocer of 110 High Street.

Richard Sheen died at the age of 56 on 26 December 1840. In a letter to Mrs John Moxley dated 8 January 1841, John Henry Newman (then Vicar of St Mary-the-Virgin Church) noted, “Sheen too the grocer has died suddenly.” A report on his death in Jackson's Oxford Journal of 2 January 1841 read:

On Saturday last, in the 57th year of his age, Richard Sheen, Esq. senior Alderman and twice Mayor of this city. An illness of nearly two months' duration was succeeded by a sudden attack of paralysis on the afternoon of Christmas Day, which deprived him of the use of his right side and his speech, and he expired at ten o'clock the following morning. Mr. Sheen carried on for many years an extensive grocery business in Oxford, a great part of the time under the firm of "Bridgewater and Sheen," and was universally acknowledged and respected as a most diligent and upright tradesman. As a Magistrate, and a Member of the Council for the last thirty years, he was most attentive to his civic duties. The suddenness of his death has cast a general gloom over the city, and his great activity and usefulness in private and public life have rendered his loss extensively felt and deeply regretted.

His brother Thomas Sheen, Esq. died two years later on 26 December 1843 at Higham, Suffolk, and his death was announced in Jackson's Oxford Journal.

See also:

  • Jackson’s Oxford Journal, 2 January 1841, p. 3c (death notice)
  • Malcolm Graham, Oxford City Apprentices 1697–1800, entry numbered 3160

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 20 January, 2022

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