Oxford History: Mayors & Lord Mayors


Fred William Albert Bennett (1875–1947)

Mayor of Oxford 1931/2

Fred William Albert Bennett was born in Oxford in 1875, the eldest son of the dyer Benjamin Bennett (born at Gloucester Green and baptised at St Mary Magdalen Church on 29 August 1847) and Sarah Anne Ward (born at Beaumont Buildings and baptised at St Giles's Church on 15 May 1850), who was the daughter of a college servant.
For more on his parents, see their page on the St Sepulchre's Cemetery website.

His parents were married at St Mary Magdalen Church on 24 September 1874.

The 1881 census shows Fred (5) living at 33 Walton Crescent with his father Benjamin (33), his mother Sarah (30), his disabled grandfather George Bennett (59), and his younger brothers Frank (4), Rae (2), and Reginald (three months). The family had one live-in servant.

Fred attended the City of Oxford High School (where he later became a governor).

In 1891 Fred (15) was still at school and living at the same house with his parents. His brother Frank who was a year younger worked as a Library Assistant. By this time he had four more siblings: Lionel (8), Violet (6), Annie (4), and Benjamin (2).

Fred joined his father’s laundry and dyeing business business, B. Bennett & Sons, which was based at 15 Magdalen Street and at Abbey Place, St Ebbe’s.

His mother Sarah Anne Bennett died at 33 Walton Crescent at the age of 45 and was buried at St Sepulchre's Cemetery on 31 July 1893.

On 20 September 1899 at St Barnabas's Church, Oxford, Fred William Alfred Bennett (24), described as a dyer, married Lilian Sarah Flight (24), the daughter of Frederick Flight, who was a boarding house keeper in the High Street.

At the time of the 1901 census Fred and Lilian Bennett were living upstairs at 117 High Street, and had two undergraduate lodgers and a general servant. They were both 25 years old, and Fred was now a laundry clerk in the company of which he would one day be director.

Bennett and his wife had three children:

  • Frederic Norman Hutton Bennett (born at 117 High Street on 31 August 1901 and baptised at St Barnabas's Church on 22 September); died aged two
  • Doreen Annie Bennett (born at 129a High Street, Oxford on 9 September 1904 and baptised at St Barnabas's Church on 9 October)
  • Cyril Ward Bennett (born at 129a High Street, Oxford on 20 July 1907 and baptised at St Barnabas's Church on 4 August).

Their son Frederic died at the age of two and was buried at Botley Cemetery on 17 March 1904.

By the time of the 1911 census Fred and his family were living at Normanhurst in Chawley, which lies near Oxford, to the north-east of Cumnor. He was then described as an “assistant to dyer and cleaner and laundryman”.

Bennett was a Freemason, and served as the Worshipful Master of Alfred Lodge.

Bennett was first elected to the West Ward of the City Council in 1907. He lost his seat in 1923, but was returned in 1925 at a by-election.

Bennett was elected Sheriff of Oxford for 1926/7. He was then living on Cumnor Hill.

On 7 August 1926 at Cumnor Church, his daughter Doreen Annie Bennett (21) of Cumnor Hill married John Morley (23), a physical instructor of St Giles's parish, Oxford.

In 1931 Fred William Alfred Bennett was elected Mayor of Oxford (for 1931/2). He was also the leader of the Conservative group on the council, and was made an Alderman.

† Fred William Albert Bennett died at Normanhurst on Cumnor Hill on Sunday 14 September 1947 at the age of 72. His funeral was held at the City Church (then All Saints) on 17 September, and he was buried in the grave of his eldest son at Botley Cemetery (Grave ref. F1/1). .

His effects came to £7,281 9s. 2d., and his executors were his brother Reginald Ward Bennett (Curate of Holy Trinity Church, Hastings) and his brother-in-law Arthur Wallace Ainsworth, a retired local government officer.

His wife and two children (Cyril Bennett and Mrs Jack Morley) survived him.

His wife Lilian Sarah Bennett died at the age of 75 and was buried with her husband and son on 27 June 1951.

See also:

  • Oxford Times, 19 September 1947, p. 8h (obituary)
  • Oxford Journal Illustrated: Photographs on 26 October 1910,  (p. 1); 5 November 1913,  (p. 3); 13 October 1926 (p. 14); 10 November 1926 (p  8); 18 May 1927 (p. 8); 29 June 1927, (p. 8); and 26 October 1927 (pp. 14 and 26).
  • 1881 Census: Oxford (St Thomas), 1504/138
  • 1891 Census: Oxford (St Thomas 6), 1169/115
  • 1901 Census: Oxford (St Martin), 1384/9

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 2 June, 2022

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