Oxford History: Mayors & Lord Mayors


Thomas Lucas (1839–1917)

Mayor of Oxford 1892/3

Thomas Lucas

Thomas Lucas was born in Oxford in 1839 and baptised at St Thomas’s Church on 11 December. His family is believed to have settled in Oxford back in 1742, and there were several branches of the family in St Thomas’s parish. He was the son of William Lucas (born in Oxford in 1812) and Mary Goddard (born in Woodstock in 1813).

His parents were married at St Giles' Church, Oxford on 24 September 1836, and Thomas’s older sister, Ann, was baptised at St Aldate’s Church on 3 November 1837: at that time his father was a saddler at Wyatt’s Yard in St Aldate’s.

By the time of Thomas’s birth two years later, his parents had moved to the parish of St Thomas, and Thomas's four younger siblings were also baptised there: George (13 July 1844), Emily (or Emelia) Jane (born in 1848 but not baptised until 11 May 1851), Mary (born in 1845 but not baptised until 19 January 1854), and William Frederick (1855).

The family is listed in the 1841 and 1851 censuses as living in Park End Street, and Thomas’s father was described as a saddler.

At some point between May 1851 and January 1854, the occupation of Thomas’s father William Lucas changed from saddler to publican.

At the time of the 1861 census Thomas (21) was a college cook, still living at home with his parents and surviving siblings at The Queen’s Arms, 1 Park End Street, where his father was the victualler. He was admitted free on 12 July that year.

In 1866 Thomas’s father died at the age of 54 and was buried at St Thomas’s Church.

On 29 July 1869 at St Cross Church, Thomas Lucas described as a cook of St Thomas's parish, married Annie Charlotte Ridley, a glover's daughter who lived in Holywell. They had eight children:

  • Ada Annie Lucas (baptised at St Giles’ Church on 1 May 1870)
  • Kate Isabelle Ridley Lucas (baptised at St Giles’ Church on 16 March 1871)
  • Arthur Ernest Lucas (baptised at St Giles’ Church on 15 April 1873)
  • Cecil Frederick Lucas (baptised at St Giles’ Church on 15 August 1874)
  • Gerald Tom Lucas (baptised at St Giles’ Church on 27 October 1875)
  • Gladys Lucas (baptised at St Giles’ Church on 6 August 1877)
  • Jessie Lucas (baptised at St Giles’ Church on 7 February 1879)
  • Christopher William Lucas (baptised at St Giles’ Church on 3 January 1883).

By 1871 Thomas (31) was the college cook and manciple of St John’s College and was living at 6 St Giles’ Street with wife Annie Charlotte (25) and one servant. His widowed mother was now running the Queen's Arms in Park End Street on her own, and all her children except the two youngest daughters appear to have left home.

In 1880 St John’s College demolished Thomas Lucas’s house and the one next door to make way for the first section of its new buildings on St Giles. Lucas was rehoused by the college at 21 St John Street, and can be seen there at the age of 41 in the 1881 census with his wife and five of his children: Kate (9), Cecil (6), Gerald (5), Gladys (3), and Jessie (2). The family had two servants.

Lucas gave up his post at St John’s College when he acquired a financial interest in the family firm of W. F. Lucas & Co., manufacturing clothiers: this was based in Red Lion Square (Gloucester Green), but later moved to larger premises in George Street.

In 1888 he became the first leaseholder of Northlands at 94 Woodstock Road (below, sporting a blue plaque dedicated to a later occupant, Dorothy Hodgkin).

94 Woodstock Road

Thomas Lucas can be seen at this house in the 1891 census “living on his own means”, with his wife Annie and three of their children: Kate, Arthur Ernest, and Christopher.

He and his wife were still living there in 1901 with their son Arthur (28), his daughter Jessie (22), and his youngest son Christopher (19), who was then an architect’s pupil.

Lucas was first elected to the council for the North Ward in 1884, representing the Conservative Party. He was appointed Sheriff of Oxford for 1890/1.

In 1892 Lucas was elected Mayor of Oxford (for 1892/3), and became a Justice of the Peace. During his mayoral year he laid the foundation stone of the new Town Hall (below).

Foundation stone

Lucas was a member of the council for 33 years and also a Freeman of the city. On 18 January 1898 he was elected an Alderman.

Lucas was also a member of the Alfred Masonic Lodge. He was a prime mover in the building of the New Theatre in George Street in 1886, and in getting it rebuilt again in 1892 after it burnt down.

Arms of Thomas Lucas in Council Chamber

Thomas Lucas



Lucas’s arms appear in glass in the Council Chamber (left).


Because Lucas was a a member of the Municipal Buildings Committee when the new Town Hall was opened in 1897, his head is carved in stone in the Council Chamber corridor (right).

The 1911 census shows Lucas (71) still living at 94 Woodstock Road with his wife Annie and two of his unmarried sons: Gerald (35) was a theatrical manager, and Christopher (28) was an architect. They had one servant.

By 1915 Lucas had moved further north on the Woodstock Road to No. 118 (below), and he transferred the name of his old house (Northlands) to his new house.

118 Woodstock Road

† Thomas Lucas died 118 Woodstock Road at the age of 78 on 2 December 1917. His funeral was held at St Margaret’s Church, and he was buried in Holywell Cemetery (Plot A.107). A plaque in his memory was placed on the south wall of All Saints’ Church (then the City Church, and now Lincoln College library).

His wife Annie Charlotte Lucas was buried with him in 1928.

See also:

  • Oxford Journal Illustrated, 5 December 1917, p. 3c (obituary)
  • Oxford Journal Illustrated, 12 December 1917, p 1 (portrait of Lucas in mayoral robes and chain) and p. 7 (pictures of his funeral)
  • Arms of Lucas in stained glass in one of the windows of the Council Chamber
  • Two letters of October 1893 from Thomas Lucas to Sir William Markby re the attendance of himself and other council members at Benjamin Jowett’s funeral (Balliol College Library, Jowett Papers, Group II, Class D4, Nos. 71 and 72)
  • 1841 Census: Oxford (St Thomas), 891/17/36
  • 1851 Census: Oxford (St Thomas), 1728/399
  • 1861 Census: Oxford (St Thomas), 895/108
  • 1871 Census: Oxford (St Paul), 1436/77
  • 1881 Census: Oxford (St Giles), 1500/54
  • 1891 Census: Oxford (St Giles 4), 1166/86
  • 1901 Census: Oxford (St Giles), 1381/32

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 22 October, 2018

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