Oxford History: Mayors & Lord Mayors


Thomas Henry Kingerlee (1843–1929)

Mayor of Oxford 1898/9 and 1911/12

Thomas Henry Kingerlee was born in Banbury on 26 January 1843. He was the son of Thomas Kingerlee (born in Kineton, Warwickshire in 1810/11) and Caroline Flowers (born in Banbury in 1807). His father was living in Blockley, Worcestershire and his mother in Banbury when they were married at St Mary's Church in Banbury on 27 January 1835.

Thomas Henry's parents had four children before he was born: a girl and boy who died in infancy, and then two sons both born in Blockley: George on 4 April 1838 and William on 27 July 1840.

The family moved to Banbury on 14 August 1841 when Thomas's father succeeded to the business of Mr Bromley, to whom he had been apprenticed. Their next child Alfred was born there on 26 January 1845. Then came their daughter Mary Ann, whose birth was announced thus in Jackson’s Oxford Journal of 28 April 1849: “Birth. May 2, the wife of Mr T. Kingerlee, of Parsons-street, Banbury, of a daughter.”

The 1851 census shows that Kingerlee’s father was then a plumber & glazier.

By the time of the 1861 census, the family was living at 5 Butcher’s Row, Banbury, and Thomas Henry’s father (50), was described as a plumber, glazier, and painter, and the employer of two men, one of whom was Thomas Henry himself, now an 18-year-old plumber.

In 1868 in the Thame district, Thomas Henry Kingerlee married his first wife, Helen Dorcas Hunt (who was born in Thame in 1837). They had three children:

  • Henry Stephen Kingerlee (born at Butcher Row, Banbury on 15 April 1869)
  • Helen Hunt Kingerlee (born at Butcher Row, Banbury in 1870)
  • Charles Kingerlee (bornat Butcher Row, Banbury in 1874).

By the time of the 1871 census, Kingerlee, aged 28, had evidently succeeded his father and was described as a plumber employing two men and two boys. He was still living at Butcher Row, Banbury with his wife Helen and their first two children, plus a servant.

At the time of the 1881 census Kingerlee (38) was still living in Banbury with his wife and three children. They moved to Allandale at 117 Woodstock Road (then numbered 67) in 1883.

In June 1883 Kingerlee took over the shop of Alfred Wheeler at 16 Queen Street, Oxford, describing his current trade as “Steam Saw Mills, and joinery works, Banbury”. The following month he took out an advertisement in Jackson's Oxford Journal stating that he was a dealer in “all kinds of window glass, french shades, propagating and other glasses, paints, oils and colours, plumbers' brass work”, and that he was a builder and contractor as well as a plumber and house decorator. For a few years he had premises in both Banbury and Oxford.

In an Oxford city directory of 1884 Kingerlee was described as a “builder, contractor & decorator, dealer in glass, lead &c., paperhanging warehouse”.

Jackson’s Oxford Journal of 18 December 1886 reports that Kingerlee was fined 1s. and 6s. costs for causing an obstruction with a large box of goods on the pavement of Queen Street for three hours.

Kingerlee blue plaque

In 1889 the Kingerlees moved from Allandale to Bridge House on the Botley Road. Its address was then 9 St Frideswide Terrace, but it was later numbered 17 Botley Road. It is immediately beside Osney Bridge, which had been rebuilt the year before he moved here.

Kingerlee's former home is now the River Hotel, and an Oxfordshire blue plaque (right) was erected there in 2021.

Bridge House (River Hotel)

By 1891 Kingerlee was a Liberal city councillor and sat on the committee formed on 22 June that year to deal with the question of the new Town Hall. He also sat on the county council.

Kingerlee’s first wife Helen Dorcas Kingerlee died in Oxford at the age of 56 on 23 August 1894 and was buried at Botley Cemetery.

Arms of Kingerlee

In 1895 Kingerlee stood as Member of Parliament for Oxford, but was beaten by the Conservative Viscount Valentia.

In 1898 Kingerlee was elected Mayor of Oxford (for 1898/9).

The arms of Kingerlee (right) were added to the wall of the Lord Mayor’s Parlour when he served as Chief Magistrate.

On 23 March 1899 at Clifton, Christchurch, Gloucestershire, Thomas Henry Kingerlee married his second wife, Jane Hearne Plummer (born in Peasemore, near Newbury, Berkshire on 18 February 1865).

As a strong Congregationalist, in 1900 Kingerlee backed the “Committee for securing Oxford out-relief for the deserving and aged poor in suitable cases”.

The 1901 census shows Thomas (58) and his second wife Jane (36) living at 17 Botley Road in Oxford with Thomas’s younger son Charles (26), who was described as a builder. The family had a housekeeper and two housemaids.

Thomas Kingerlee and his second wife Jane had one son, Thomas Edward Hearne Kingerlee, but he died aged just three days on 5 July 1901.

In 1905/6 Kingerlee and his second wife moved to Overdale on Foxcombe Hill, while their son Charles remained in Bridge House.

Kingerlee was made an Alderman in 1906.

Kingerlee advertisement 1916

At the time of the 1911 census Kingerlee (aged 68 and described as a retired builder) and his wife Jane  (46) were living in the Weston area of Bath at “Allington” in Audley Park Road, Weston, Bath with a housekeeper and parlourmaid.

Later in 1911 the Kingerlees returned to Oxford and lived at 118 Banbury Road (a house that Kingerlee had built in 1904). That same year he was elected Mayor of Oxford for a second term (for 1911/12). He was awarded an Honorary M.A. by the University of Oxford in July 1912.


By about 1915 Thomas Henry Kingerlee and his wife Jane were living in Bath again, but the Kingerlee firm continued to flourish in Oxford.




Left: Advertisement inside the front cover of Kelly's Directory for 1915–16 showing a kitchener sold by T. H. Kingerlee and Sons at their showroom at 35 Queen Street. This shop also sold paper hangings and baths and lavatory basis

Kingerlee grave at Botley

† Alderman Thomas Henry Kingerlee died at Bath on 22 December 1928.

His funeral was held at the City Church in Oxford (then All Saints in the High Street), and the Mayor and nineteen members of the corporation were present, as well as other dignitaries including Sir Michael Sadler, the Chief Constable, and the Town Clerk.

He was buried in Botley Cemetery, and his headstone is shown on the right (© Liz Woolley)

His second wife Jane died at Bath almost twenty years later on 18 July 1948 and was buried with him.

His two sons and grandsons took over his business, and the Kingerlee building firm still survives today. From 1962 to 1999 it was based at Lamarsh Road (where part of the business had been since the early 1940s), and it then moved to Kidlington.

Thomas Henry Kingerlee's buildings in Oxford

Between the mid-1880s and 1900 Kingerlee built a number of prominent buildings in Oxford:

  • 1885: City Isolation Hospital (later the Rivermead Hospital) in Cold Harbour
  • 1886: Brookside House, Headington (now Headington Junior School)
  • 1886: The original New Theatre
  • 1893: Summertown Congregational Church, Banbury Road
  • 1894: Elliston & Cavell (later Debenhams): first section (9, 10, 11, & 12 Magdalen Street) next to Friar's Entry)
  • 1898: 127/129 High Street
  • 1900: Victoria Buildings, Park End Street (the Oxford Marmalade Factory)
  • 1900: Girls' Central School, New Inn Hall Street
  • 1903: Frank Cooper's marmalade factory, Park End Street
  • 1904: Wesley Hall, Cowley Road (shown below)

Kingerlee was also responsible for many additions to schools and colleges.

Wesley Hall

In 1886–9 Kingerlee built all the houses on Hill View Road and he went on to build all the houses on the eastern side of Binsey Lane and on Alexandra, Harley, and Oatlands Roads, as well as estates in north, south and east Oxford. In total Kingerlee built over 700 houses in the Oxford suburbs between 1886 and 1935.

In 1902 he built two streets of houses in west Oxford and named them Henry Road and Helen Road after his two eldest children.

Thomas Henry Kingerlee's children's marriages
  • In 1894 in Oxford, Henry Stephen Kingerlee married his first wife Mary Rebecca French in Oxford in 1894. Mary died at the age of 33 in 1898 and was buried with his mother. Later that year Henry married his second wife Louie Emma Tompson.
  • In 1898 in Victoria, Australia, Helen Hunt Kingerlee married the Oxford-born merchant Henry Edward Radbone, who thereafter called himself Edward Henry, and who in 1921 changed his surname to Radbourne. They then moved to New Zealand, where their first daughter Marjory was born. By the time of the 1901 census they had returned to England and were living in Wootton Bassett.
  • On 27 April 1907 at St Mary Magdalen Church, Oxford, Charles Kingerlee (32), who described himself as a contractor living at Victoria Place, married Edelweiss Buol (19), whose father had a restaurant at 21 Cornmarket Street. They had three children: Henry John Kingerlee (1908), Marguerite Kingerlee (1912), and Felice Kingerlee (1923).

See also:

  • Liz Woolley & Sîan Smith: Kingerlee Ltd: Celebrating 150 years of craftsmanship in construction, 1868–2018 (Kingerlee Ltd, 2018)
  • Photographs of the Kingerlee firm erecting the Anthony Gormley statue on the corner of Broad Street and Turl Street on 19 February 2009
  • Jackson’s Oxford Journal, 8 September 1906, p. 7a
  • Oxford Times, 4 January 1929, p. 12e (obituary)
  • 1851 Census: Oxford (Banbury), 1734/344
  • 1861 Census: Oxford (Banbury), 918/33
  • 1871 Census: Oxford (Banbury), 1464/17
  • 1881 Census: Oxford (Banbury), 1527/28
  • 1891 Census: Oxford (St Thomas): 1169/45
  • 1901 Census: Oxford (St Thomas), 1386/74

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 12 June, 2021

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