Oxford History: Mayors & Lord Mayors


Edmund John Brooks (1860–1937)

Mayor of Oxford 1906/7

E.J. Brooks

Edmund John Brooks was born in Summertown on 24 May 1860 and baptised there on 19 August.

Edmund's father Edwin Brooks, who was baptised at Cassington on 13 September 1829, was an Oxford tailor and woollen draper, who was living in St Giles' Street in Oxford just before his marriage.

Edmund's mother Caroline Anne Stone was the daughter of the ironmonger John Stone and was baptised at St Cross Church in Oxford on 19 February 1824. She was living in Summertown just before her marriage.

Edmund's parents were married at St Giles' Church, Oxford on 3 September 1854 and had the following children

  • James Edwin Brooks (baptised at Summertown Church on 1 July 1855;
    died aged 5, buried there 2 April 1860)
  • Caroline Annie Brooks (baptised at Summertown Church on 8 March 1857)
  • Sarah Mary Brooks (baptised at Summertown Church on 30 May 1858)
  • Edmund John Brooks (baptised at Summertown Church on 19 August 1860)
  • Henry James Robert Brooks (baptised at Summertown Church on 21 April 1862)
  • Mary Dew Lucy Brooks (baptised at St Giles's Church on 3 July 1864)
  • Emily Lizzie Brooks (baptised at St Giles's Church on 1 July 1866;
    died aged one in 1867 and buried at Summertown Church on 27 November)
  • Edwin James Dewdney Brooks (baptised St Giles's Church on 3 January 1869).

The family appear to have lived in Summertown until 1862, but by mid-1964 they had moved south into St Giles's parish and were living at Woodbine Cottage (also known as 5 St Giles Road west) at the south end of the Woodstock Road.

At the time of the 1861 census Edmund (ten months) was living at Woodbine Cottage with his father Edward (30), described as a tailor and woollen draper, his mother Caroline (31), and his two surviving older siblings Caroline (4) and Sarah (2),, who were both at school. The family employed a 15-year-old servant girl.

In 1871 Edmund (10, but with his age given as 9) was living at Woodbine Cottage with his father Edwin, who was now described as a tailor employing three men on the premises, his mother Caroline, and his five surviving siblings: Caroline (13), Sarah (11), Henry (7), Mary (5), and Edwin (2).

At the time of the 1881 census Edmund (20), who was now an Articled Law Clerk, was still living with his parents, and also at home were his elder sister Caroline (22), his younger sister Mary (16) and his younger brothers Henry (18), who was a chemist’s assistant, and Edwin (11). The family had one servant.

On 6 August 1886 Edmund John Brooks married Elizabeth Alger Coombs, who was born in Bristol in c.1862. They had nine children:

  • Edmund Dewdney Brooks (baptised at Summertown Church on 11 September 1888;
    died age 4, buried there 3 September 1892)
  • Dorothy Brooks (baptised at Summertown Church on 24 November 1889)
  • Christabel Brooks (baptised at Summertown Church on 5 June 1891)
  • Gwendoline Brooks (baptised at Summertown Church on 31 August 1892)
  • Margaret Brooks (baptised at Summertown Church on 31 December 1893)
  • Basil Ben Burgoyne Brooks (baptised at Summertown Church on 7 April 1895)
  • Gretchen Brooks (baptised at Summertown Church on 19 April 1897)
  • Humphrey Coombs Brooks (baptised at Summertown Church on 6 May 1900)
  • Edmund John Brooks junior (baptised at Summertown Church on 14 June 1903)

By 1888 Brooks described himself as an auctioneer. His office was at 15 Magdalen Street.

The 1891 census shows the Brooks family living at 7 South Parade with their first three children.

At the time of the 1901 census Edmund John Brooks (40), described as an estate agent, was living at Athelstan Lodge (now 2 Hernes Road) with Elizabeth (38) and five of their children: Dorothy (11), Christabel (10), Gwendoline (8), Basil (6), and Humphrey (1), Margaret (7) and Gretchen (4) were paying a visit to her uncle Walter Price (32), who was an auctioneer and valuer living at Church Road, Wolvercote with his wife Florence and their young daughter. Brooks's youngest child, Edmund John Brooks junior, who was known as John, was born two years after that census.

Brooks was elected Councillor for the North Ward in 1892, and Sheriff of Oxford for 1904/5.

Brooks was a member of the Druids, Oddfellows, Foresters, Ancient Britons, and Buffalo Friendly Societies, and was initiated a Freeman in the Alfred Lodge in about 1895. He was also a churchman, with an interest in questions of church policy. In his youth he was a keen Alpine climber and was also a good shot and an enthusiastic amateur photographer.

In 1906 Brookes was elected Mayor of Oxford (for 1906/7), and the famous Oxford pageant took place during his mayoral year.

The next year he was appointed a Justice of the Peace.

Brooks advertisement 1915

At the time of the 1911 census Edmund (50), described as an Estate Agent & Auctioneer, was living at Athelstan House, 2 Hernes Road, which had twelve rooms, with his wife Elizabeth (48) and six of their children: Dorothy (21), Gwendoline (18), Margaret (17), Gretchen (14), Humphrey (11), and Edmund John junior (7). They had two servants: a housemaid and cook. His daughter Christabel (20) was working as a nurse at Manchester Children's Hospital in Pendlebury, while his son Basil (16) was boarding at All Saints School in Bloxham.

In 1912 Brooks was elected an Alderman. He remained on the council for the rest of his life, and served on all the most important committees, including Education, Watch, and Property & Estates., and in 1912 was elected an Alderman. He remained on the council for the rest of his life, and served on all the most important committees, including Education, Watch, and Property & Estates.


The advertisement on the right for E. J. Brooks & Son appeared in Kelly's Directory for 1915–16. It states that the family firm was established in 1840


His daughter Margaret was married in 1915:

  • On 13 September 1915 at Summertown Church, Margaret Brooks (21) of Athelstan Lodge married Vivien Thorning Saunders of Charlton Park, Woolwich, who was a Second Lieutenant in the Royal Garrison Artillery.

On 23 July 1916 his eldest surviving son Basil Ben Burgoyne Brooks died in the First World War while serving as a Captin in the fourth battalion of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry (CWGC page).

In 1919 he was appointed Honorary Treasurer of the new Cricket Association, a job he held for twelve years.

Four more of his children were married in 1919 and in the 1920s:

  • On 31 December 1919 Gwendolen Brooks (27) of Athelstan Lodge married the Revd Reginald Charles Moore (28) of Upton Rectory, Didcot.
  • On 6 January 1920 Gretchen Brooks (22) of Athelstan Lodge married John Rawson Lumby (22) of 8 Dolphin road, Slough, who was an Acting Lieutenant in the Royal Navy.
  • On 14 July 1928 in the Hampstead district, Humphrey Coombs Brooks (28) married Josephine Alice Gorringe Selfe (24), the daughter of Mansel Sherwin Selfe.
  • On 7 September 1929 at the Chapel of Woodstock, Edmund John Brooks (26), descrbied as an auctioneer of Athelstan Lodge, married Mary Irene Kerwood (25), the daughter of the farmer Henry Thomas Kerwood.

His daughter Christabel Brooks also married a Mr Osborn, but it is hard to find the marriage.

† Edmund John Brooks was taken ill on 30 August 1937 while preparing to attend the City Magistrates Court and died two days later at the age of 77. on 1 August 1937 at his home at Athelstan Lodge, 2 Hernes Road. His funeral was held at St Michael & All Angels Church in Summertown, and he was buried at Wolvercote Cemetery on 5 August (Grave E4/44).

His effects came to £17,160 16s. 11d., and his executors were his sons Humphrey Coombs Brooks and Edmund John Brooks, who were both estate agents.

The firm of E. J. Brooks & Son (Auctioneers, Surveyors, Valuers, and Estate Agents) survived into the 1980s. (In its latter days it was situated at 13 Beaumont Street, with branches in Summertown, Cowley, and Bicester.)

His daughter Mrs Christabel Osborne who died at the age of 93 was buried with him on 7 June 1984.

See also:

  • Oxford Journal Illustrated, 2 June 1915, p. 9 (“Who’s Who in Oxford”)
  • Ernest Gaskell, Oxfordshire Leaders, Social and Political (London, 1907), pp. 223–4
  • Who’s Who in Oxfordshire, 1936, p. 41
  • Oxford Times, 6 August 1937, p.  24e (obituary)
  • 1861 Census: Oxford (St Giles), 0891/094
  • 1871 Census: Oxford (St Paul), 1436/126
  • 1881 Census: Oxford (St Giles), 1500/42
  • 1891 Census: Oxford (Summertown), 1165/89
  • 1901 Census: Oxford (St Giles), 1380/124

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 3 January, 2021

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