Oxford History: Mayors & Lord Mayors


Reginald Philip Capel (1886–1961)

Mayor of Oxford 1944/5

Reginald Philip Capel was born at Temple Cowley in 1886 but was not baptised at St James's Church there until 3 June 1888.

He was the son of Noah Capel, who was born in Cumnor in 1845 and came to work as a builder in Oxford as a young man and Eliza Richings (born in Longworth, Berkshire in 1846). Reginald's parents were both living on the Cowley Road when they were married at St James's Church in Cowley on 17 October 1870, and his father was unable to sign his name. They had fourteen children.

Reginald's parents lived on the Cowley Road in Oxford to 1873; then they seem to have been in Blackthorn, where their daughter Cecilia was born in 1875; and they were at St Mary's Road in St Clements from 1877 to 1881. Then in about 1883 they moved to Temple Cowley.

At the time of the 1891 census Reginald (5) was living at 12 Cowley Marsh in Temple Cowley with his father Noah (45), described as a builder, his mother Eliza (44), and eleven of his siblings: Edith (19), Harry (17), who was a builder, Cecilia (15), who was an apprentice dressmaker, Aubrey (13), Fred (12), Clarissa (10), Francis (9), Alexander (7), Elsie (2), and Ida (six months).

By 1899 the family had moved to St John's Cottage in Bardwell Road, north Oxford.

At the time of the 1901 census Reginald (14), listed as Philip, was still at school and living at St John's Cottage in Bardwell Road with his father Noah (55), who now described himself as a building mechanic and an employer, his mother Eliza (53), and five of his siblings: Fred (22) and Francis (18), who were also building mechanics, and Alexander (16), Elsie (11), and Ida (9), who were still at school.

Reginald's mother Eliza Capel died at the age of 63 near the beginning of 1910.

In 1911 Reginald (24), again recorded as Philip, was living at 279 Banbury Road with his father Noah (66) and his siblings Alex (26) and Ida (20). Reginald and his brother were described as carpenters, and their father as a builder & contractor.

Reginald Capel served with the Honorable Artillery Company in the First World War.

In 1919 he took over his father’s building business, N. Capel & Son, which he ran until the late 1940s.

In the third quarter of 1919 in the Woodstock registration district (probably at Kidlington), Reginald Philip Capel of Summertown married Winifred Cooke of Kidlington, who was born on 7 December 1888. They do not appear to have had any children.

In 1921 Reginald Capel and his wife moved into 179A Banbury Road, Oxford, where they remained until 1929.

From 1930 they lived at 394 Woodstock Road.

Capel was elected as a Conservative city councillor in 1936, sitting on every one of the council’s committees in the next quarter century.

Reginald's father Noah Capel died in Oxford at the age of 92 in 1937.

Reginald Philip Capel was elected an Alderman, and then Mayor of Oxford for 1944/5.

During the Second World War Capel was Commanding Officer of the West Company of the Home Guard.

He belonged to the Clarendon Club, the Marlborough Lodge of Freemasons (of which he served a period as Master), and Frilford Golf Club. He was interested in the Thames Conservancy Board, on which he represented the Council, and did charitable work for the Oxford Eye Hospital.

Capel spent some time in the Acland Hospital suffering from bronchial asthma, and never fully recovered.

† Reginald Philip Capel died on 16 November 1961 at the age of 75 at his home, 394 Woodstock Road. His funeral was held at St Peter’s Church, Wolvercote on 20 November.

His effects came to £70,237 19s.

His wife Winifred Capel died in 1972.

See also:

  • Oxford Times, 24 November 1961, p. 7 (obituary)
  • 1891 Census: Oxford (Temple Cowley), 1163/150

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 24 January, 2020

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