Oxford History: Mayors & Lord Mayors


John Richard Carr (1811–1893)

Mayor of Oxford 1863/4, 1867/8, and 1871/2

John Richard Towers Carr was baptised at St Giles’ Church, Oxford on 25 December 1811. He was the son of Richard Carr, who was a wheelwright, and his wife Sarah, who lived near the church and had eight more children baptised there: Alfred Carr (1815, but born 1814), Charles Carr (1815), President Ferris Carr (1817), Cornelius Vincent Carr (1818), Caroline Charlotte Carr (1820), Maria Isabella Carr (1822), Ellin Selina Carr (1824), and Paul Theophilus Carr (1827).

On 23 January 1832 John Richard Carr married his first wife, Elizabeth Dodd: they were both then living in St Thomas's parish, and the banns were called there. They had six children:

  • Ellen Elizabeth Carr (born in Oxford in 1832 and baptised at St Mary Magdalen Church on 16 December)
  • George Cornelius Carr (born in Oxford in 1834 and baptised at St Giles's Church on 19 October)
  • Mary Ann Eliza Carr (born in Oxford in 1837 and baptised at St Giles's Church on 17 November)
  • Thomas Arthur Carr (born in Oxford in 1836 and baptised at St Giles's Church on 8 July)
  • Henry Theophilus Carr (born in Oxford in 1841 and baptised at St Giles's Church on 27 January)
  • Sydney Frank Carr (born in Oxford in 1846 and baptised at St Giles's Church on 23 January);
    died on 28 January, with an announcement in
    Jackson's Oxford Journal.

John Richard Carr was described as a cabinet maker at the baptism of his first two children in 1832 and 1834, but by 1837 he was an attorney's clerk in the Broad Street office of the solicitor Crews Dudley, who was also an agent for the Liberal Party. The Post Office Directory for 1847 lists John Richard Carr as a clerk at 72 St Giles’ Street (one of the houses demolished to make way for the Taylorian Institution).

On 5 July 1851 Jackson's Oxford Journal published a letter from Carr relating to the Oxford Workhouse, of which he was Deputy Governor.

Carr worked for the Liberal Party for fifty years, and in 1852 he came on to the Council as the representative for North Ward without a contest.

The 1851 census shows Carr (40), described as a “Managing Clerk to an Attorney”, living at 72 St Giles with his first wife Elizabeth and three of his children: Ellen (18), George (16), who was described as “working in attorney’s office”, and Mary (13), who was still at school.

He was first returned to the Town Council in 1852 for the North Ward.

His first wife Elizabeth Carr died at 72 St Giles's Street at the age of 54. Her funeral was at St Mary Magdalen Church on 12 August 1854, and she was probably buried at Holywell Cemetery.

Their elder daughter was married the following year:

  • On 26 April 1855 at St Mary Magdalen Church, Ellen Elizabeth Carr married Edward Hoskins, the son of James Hoskins of Gosport, and an announcement was placed in Jackson's Oxford Journal.

On 29 May 1856 at Summertown Church, John Richard Carr married his second wife Hannah Holiday of Summertown, daughter of the gentleman William Holiday. They had no children.

Carr's younger daughter was married in 1887:

  • On 31 August 1857 at St Mary's Church, Lambeth, Mary Ann Eliza Carr of Paradise Street, Lambeth married William Henry Christopher Sharpe, a bank clerk of St Alban's Terrace, Lambeth, who was the son of William Sharpe, a Lieutenant in the Militia. Mary's father was described as a solicitor.

In 1856 Carr was appointed a Charity Trustee, and was a visitor of Littlemore Asylum for thirty years. He was also a member of the Board of Guardians (and Chairman for a considerable period), being prominent in the movement for the erection of Cowley Industrial School and Workhouse. He was a member of the Board of Thames Valley Drainage Commissioners.

Carr was one of the four Liberal leaders who dominated the council’s important committees: he was chairman of the police committee from its inception in 1869 to 1886. Under his chairmanship of the Market Committee the meat market was considerably enlarged and greatly improved.

From 1861 to 1876, John Carr practised as a solicitor at 72 St Giles’ Street.

At the time of the 1861 census John Carr (49) was living at 72 St Giles's Street with his second wife Hannah (31), his son Henry Theophilus Carr (20), who was a solicitor’s clerk, his niece Maria Page, and a servant.

Two of his sons were married in the early 1860s:

  • On 3 April 1861 at St Giles's Church, Oxford, Thomas Arthur Carr (24), a government clerk of Kensington,
    married Lydia Wickens (24) of St Giles, the daughter of the wine merchant James Wickens.
  • On 25 Mary 1862 at Holy Trinity Church, Brompton, George Cornelius Carr  (27), a solicitor's clerk of Brompton, married Jane Somerton (24) of Bayswater, the daughter of William Henry Somerton. The fathers of both bride and groom were described as gentlemen.

His son George Cornelius Carr died in the Kensington district at the age of 35 in 1869.

Carr also owned 9–10 Broad Street, which he leased to the photographer Henry Taunt from 1874 to 1894.

Carr was elected Sheriff of Oxford for 1861/2, and Mayor of Oxford for 1863/4.

His youngest son was married during his mayoral year (with an announcement placed in Jackson's Oxford Journal):

  • On 28 April 1864 at St Mary's Church, West Brompton, Henry Theophilus Carr married Emily Anna Corpe, only surviving daughter of the late Charles Hake Corpe, Esq of Old Brompton.

Carr was elected an Alderman in October 1865. He was elected Mayor again for 1867/8.

In 1870 he was nominated by the Council as a Justice of the Peace.

At the time of the 1871 census John and Hannah Carr were living alone at 72 St Giles's Street, looked after by a cook, housemaid, and groom.

Carr was elected Mayor a third time for 1871/2.

In 1877 his daughter Mrs Ellen Elizabeth Hoskins married her second husband, Samuel Kemp.

In about 1880 Carr and his wife moved to 20 Beaumont Street, and the 1881 census shows him living there at the age of 69 with his Hannah (49), his granddaughter Rose Carr (15), and two servants.

On the formation of the new City Council in 1889, Carr was returned as councillor for the North Ward, and he was selected as Alderman for a full six-year term. The 1891 census again shows him at his Beaumont Street home with his wife Hannah and granddaughter Rose, plus a cook, parlourmaid, and housemaid.

Near the beginning of 1892 his son Henry Theophilus Carr died in the Epsom district at the age of 51.

Carr’s second wife Hannah, although twenty years his junior, died on a trip to Gosport at the age of 63 in 1892, and the following report appeared in Jackson's Oxford Journal on 17 September 1892:

DEATH OF MRS. CARR.–We regret to announce the death, on Friday last, of the wife of Ald. John Richard Carr, of Beaumont-street. The deceased lady went on Thursday the 8th instant to Gosport, on a visit to some friends, and on the evening of that day, while she was dressing for dinner, she was seized with a fit, becoming immediately unconscious, and she remained in this condition up to the time of her death, which occurred on Friday night, the cause being paralysis of the brain. The funeral took place at Gosport on Monday. Mrs. Carr had been a sufferer for some years from rheumatic gout.

Her husband never recovered from the shock. He was seriously ill for some time and died the following year.

† John Richard Carr died on 28 June 1893 at the age of 82 at his home, 20 Beaumont Street. His funeral was held at Holywell Cemetery on 3 July, with the Rector of the City Church at Carfax (C. J. H. Fletcher) conducting the service. The cortège left his residence at Beaumont Street at 3.30pm with an open hearse bearing the coffin, which was preceded by over 30 constables of the City Police Force as well as Superintendent Head, two inspectors, and four sergeants. The Mayor and a large number of the Corporation joined the procession at the Randolph Hotel after changing into their robes.

His effects came to £8,186 14s. 10d. A dispute over his will was reported at length in Jackson's Oxford Journal of 8 December 1894. The dispute went before the High Courts of Justice in London, and was further reported at length in the edition of 15 December 1894.

His daughter Mrs Mary Ann Eliza Carr appears to have died in the Kingston registration district of Surrey at the age of 90 near the beginning of 1928.

See also:

  • Jackson’s Oxford Journal, 1 July 1893, p. 5g (obituary)
  • Jackson’s Oxford Journal, 8 July 1893, p. 5f (funeral)
  • 1851 Census: Oxford (St Mary Magdalen), 1728/603
  • 1861 Census: Oxford (St Mary Magdalen), 894/6
  • 1871 Census: Oxford (St Mary Magdalen), 1438/13
  • 1881 Census: Oxford (St Mary Magdalen), 1502/14
  • 1891 Census: Oxford (St Mary Magdalen), 1167/119

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 19 February, 2022

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