Oxford History: Mayors & Lord Mayors


Henry Tregelles Gillett (1870–1955)

Mayor of Oxford 1938/9

Henry Gillett

Henry Tregelles Gillett was born in Banbury on 12 November 1870. He was a Quaker, descended from an old Quaker family of bankers. His father Charles Gillett was born in Adderbury on 18 January 1830 (the son of Joseph Ashby Gillett and his wife Martha), and his mother Gertrude Mary Tregelles was born in St Peter's parish, Dorchester, Dorset on 22 November 1933 (the daughter of Edwin Octavius Tregelles and his wife Jenepher Ann). Henry's parents were married in Sunderland near the end of 1860.

At the time of the 1871 census Henry (five months) was living at Wood Green, Neithrop with his father Charles (41), who was a banker, and five of his older siblings: Gertrude Martha Gillett (7), Mary Catharine Gillett (4), twins Margaret Gillett and Joseph Ashby Gillett (3), and Agnes Marion Gillett (1). The family had five servants (a cook, two nurses, a housemaid, and a general maid).

At the time of the 1881 census Henry (10) was living at Wood Green House, Broughton Road, Neithrop with his banker father Charles (51), his mother Gertrude (47), and eight of his siblings: Charles (19), Gertrude (17), Mary (14), Margaret (13), Agnes (11), Edward (8), Richenda (7), and Sarah Mabel (6). The family had two servants (a cook and a housemaid).

By 1891 Henry (20) was a medical student and was still living in the same house with his parents and five of his siblings: Elizabeth (26), who was a mission worker, Margaret (23), who was also a student of medicine Joseph (23), Edward (18), and Sarah (16), plus again their two servants.

Gillett trained as a doctor at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London, qualifying in 1895, and he then took a postgraduate course at the University of Edinburgh.

The 1901 census shows Henry (30), described as a general practitioner, living at 8 Brougham Street, Edinburgh: he was the head of the household, which otherwise comprised his boarder Malcolm Warner (who was an engineering student) and his 35-year-old housekeeper. (Henry's youngest sister Sarah Mabel Gillett later married Warner.)

Gillett then came to Oxford, taking over a practice at 15 King Edward Street. His special interest was in preventative inoculation.

In 1907/8 Henry Tregelles Gillett married Lucy Bancroft (born in the USA on 5 July 1880) and they had five children:

  • James Cooper Gillett (born 1909/10)
  • Agnes Gillett (born in Oxford in 1911)
  • Jenepher Gillett  (born in Oxford in 1915)
  • Esther Gillett  (born in Oxford in 1917)
  • Roger Gillett  (born in Oxford in 1922).

In 1908 Henry Gillett became the first leaseholder of 8 Charlbury Road, an eleven-roomed house in north Oxford, but he kept on the same practice in central Oxford.

The 1911 census shows Henry (40) living at 8 Charlbury Road with his wife Lucy (30) and their first child James (1), plus two servants.

By 1919 the Gilletts were living at 111 Banbury Road.

Gillett was an independent councillor for the South Ward from 1920. He was Chairman of the Slum Clearance Committee and of the Oxford Council of Social Service.

He retired from practising medicine in 1935.

His daughter Jenepher Gillett died in Oxford in 1938 at the age of 22.

In 1938 Henry Tregelles Gillett was elected Mayor of Oxford (for 1938/9). The Oxford Refugee Committee was established during his mayoralty, and he helped to deal with refugees from Nazi Germany who came to Oxford. He also set up settlements for the unemployed of South Wales (a movement started by the Society of Friends to which he belonged). He was also a leading figure in the move for the Oxford Corporation to acquire electricity from the Oxford Electric Company.

From 1942 to 1947 Gillett served as an Alderman. In 1942 he was on the original Oxford Committee for Famine Relief that was to develop into Oxfam.

† Henry Tregelles Gillett died at the age of 84 on 26 June 1955 at his home at 14 Upland Park Road. His funeral was held at Oxford Crematorium, followed by a Memorial at the Friends Meeting House in St Giles.

His effects came to £24,368 5s. 6d., and his executors were his son James Cooper Gillett, who was now a medical practitioner, and his solicitor.

See also:

  • Oxford Times, 1 July 1955, p. 20
  • 1881 Census: Oxford (Neithrop), 1530/9
  • 1891 Census: Oxford (Neithrop), 1184/86

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 10 March, 2021

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