Oxford History: Mayors & Lord Mayors


William Osborn King (1892–1954)

Mayor of Oxford 1951/2

William Osborn King was born at Wolvercote on 1 August 1892, and baptised there on 28 September 1892.

His paternal grandparents were the farmer William King and Ann Osborn, who had married at Wolvercote in 1851, and his father Henry Osborn King was born there in 1857. His mother Amelia Mott, daughter of the labourer William Mott, was born in Wolvercote in 1863.

His parents were married at Wolvercote on 18 May 1886. and had ten children, all of whom were given their grandmother’s surname Osborn as their middle name and nine of whom were baptised at Wolvercote Church:

  • Annie Osborn King (born on 24 June 1887 and baptised on 14 August)
  • Henry Osborn King (born on 13 August 1888 and baptised on 4 November)
  • Ethel Osborn King (born on 18 September 1890 and baptised on 16 November)
  • William Osborn King (born on 1 August 1892 and baptised on 28 September)
  • Mary Osborn King (born on 1 July 1894 and baptised on 26 August)
  • Ivy Osborn King (born on 25 May 1896 and baptised on 16 August)
  • Vera Osborn King (born on 6 May 1898 and baptised on 21 October)
  • Ernest Osborn King (born near the beginning of 1901 and died unbaptised on the same day).
  • James Osborn King (born in 1902 and baptised on 23 March)
  • Cecil Osborn King (born on 29 November 1904 and baptised in January 1905)

The 1901 census shows William at the age of eight living at Church Farm, Upper Wolvercote. His father Henry (44) was described as a hay merchant and farmer; his mother Amelia was 36; and the family had a nursemaid as well as a housemaid to look after William and his siblings.

William Osborn King attended the City of Oxford High School for Boys.

26/27 Cornmarket




When Joel Zacharias, who ran an outdoor-clothing business at 26–27 Cornmarket (right), died in 1905, William’s father Henry Osborn King took over the business. The shop kept its old name, and the slogan ”Zac’s for Macs” was to appear on the side of buses.

At the time of the 1911 census the King family was still living at Church Farm in Wolvercote, but William’s father Henry was now described as “Farmer, Hay Merchant, & Waterproofer”, and William (18) was his assistant.

On 30 October 1915 in the Edmonton district of London, William Osborn King married Winifred Loudoun Badder, and they went to live in 37 Davenant Road (then part of Wolvercote). They had one child:

  • William Osborn King junior (born at 37 Davenant Road on 23 June 1923).

When William Osborn King senior’s father, Henry Osborn King, died in 1942, he left the shop equally to all his children, with the provision that the four boys could buy out the girls, which they did. William Osborn King and his brothers Jim and Cecil worked in the shop, while Harry farmed Frieze Farm in North Oxford.

In 1944 in Surrey, his son William Osborn King married Irene M. Gent.

William Osborn King was a Wolvercote Commoner, and the City Councillor for Summertown & Wolvercote Ward. He was elected Sheriff of Oxford for 1947/8.

In 1951 he was elected Mayor of Oxford (for 1951/2). During his mayoralty, he read the proclamation at Carfax declaring Princess Elizabeth Queen.

† William Osborn King was still living at 37 Davenant Road when he died at the Acland Nursing Home at Oxford on 16 November 1954 at the age of 62. His effects came to £10,202 1s. 10d., and his executors were his wife Winifred and son Willilam.

His widow Winifred Loudoun King died at Flat 4, 1 Squitchey Lane, Oxford ten years later at the age of 73 on 29 November 1964. Her effects came to £12,203, and her son William was her executor.

The Zacharias shop remained in business until 1983, when William’s brother Cecil Osborn King died.

William Osborn King’s son

William Osborn King junior (1923–2002) was educated at St Edward’s School. He left in 1940 and went to train at Guy’s Hospital. He was in the RAF from 1946 to 1949, and then went into private practice as a dentist. He lived at Sherwood Lodge, Bagley Wood. He had a short obituary in the Oxford Mail of 19 February 2002.

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 21 October, 2018

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