Oxford History: Mayors & Lord Mayors


Thomas Mallam (1786–1850)

Mayor of Oxford 1839/40 and 1846/7

Thomas Mallam was born in Oxford in 1786 and baptised at St Aldate’s Church on 1 May. He was the son of Richard Mallam and Elizabeth Wall, who were married at that church on 5 October 1778. His father Richard founded the family auctioneering business in St Aldate’s, and was still listed as an auctioneer and appraiser there in Pigot’s Directory for 1823.

Their two eldest sons, an earlier Thomas and Richard, were buried as children at St Aldate’s in 1784 and 1786. Thomas had two other older brothers who survived: Robert (baptised at St Aldate’s on 5 September 1783) and William (baptised there on 10 June 1785).

His parents went on to have four more children baptised at St Aldate’s: Elizabeth (8 April 1789), George (10 January 1791), Mary Ann (29 November 1792, died age four), and Benjamin (3 December 1793).

Thomas's parents appear to have moved into the vicinity of Carfax by 1797, as their next children were baptised at St Martin’s Church. Their next son, Henry, was born on 10 November 1795 but was not baptised at St Martin’s until 11 April 1797, at the same time as his new baby sister Sophia (who died at the age of one). Thomas’s youngest siblings were Harriet and Charles Richard (baptised at St Martin’s on 20 June 1799 and 30 December 1801 respectively).

Thomas Mallam was a tobacconist by trade, but also ran an auctioneering and appraising business like his father. His shop was at 126 High Street in All Saints parish (below right). The 1823 edition of Pigot’s Directory lists his business here.

126 High Street
126 High Street, where Thomas Mallam had his shop .
The family name survives in this building:
HMG (Herbert Mallam Gowers) Solicitors
are reached via the door on the right.

On 21 July 1816 at St Aldate’s Church, Thomas Mallam married Lydia Butler (sister of William Butler), and they lived over this shop until c.1840. Thomas himself had been one of thirteen children, and he and his wife Lydia also had thirteen children: the baptism of all except Lydia Jane are recorded in the register of All Saints’ Church:

  • Thomas Mallam junior (born on 9 June 1817 and baptised on 12 June)
  • Robert Mallam (born on 11 July 1818 and baptised on 14 July 1818)
  • Lydia Jane Mallam (born on 11 November 1819)
  • James Richard Mallam (born on 14 May 1821 and baptised on 18 July)
  • Anne Elizabeth Mallam (born on 24 April 1823 and baptised on 21 May)
  • Sarah Mallam (baptised on 6 May 1824)
  • Charles Mallam (born on 11 November 1825 and baptised on 9 December)
  • Benjamin Mallam (born on 16 September 1827 and baptised on 14 October)
  • Henry Guy Mallam (born on 25 June 1829 and baptised on 23 July)
  • William Mallam (born on 7 November 1831 and baptised on 5 December;  died December 1832, buried at All Saints’ Church on 2 January 1833)
  • George Mallam (born on 16 December 1833 and baptised on 13 January 1834)
  • Catherine Mallam (born on 4 March 1837 and baptised on 31 March)
  • Lucy Mallam (born on 3 April 1839 and baptised on 30 April).

At the baptism of their first two children in 1817 and 1818, Mallam was recorded as a tobacconist; but from 1821 he was described as an auctioneer. In an 1830 directory he was described as an “Auctioneer and Appraiser”, and in 1839 as a “Tobacconist, Auctioneer, & Timber Merchant”.

Mallam had been elected a member of the Old Corporation in 1818, Junior Chamberlain in 1823, and Senior Bailiff in 1826. After the passing of the Municipal Corporations Act, he was elected councillor for the Central Ward on 26 December 1835 and six days later was elected an Alderman for six years.

In 1839 he was elected Mayor of Oxford (for 1839/40). The triennial perambulation of the city bounds fell at the end of his mayoralty, and this duly took place on 14 July 1840:

By the time of the 1841 census Thomas Mallam, described as an auctioneer, was living in the Banbury Road in the parish of Summertown with seven of their twelve surviving children (James, Anne, Sarah, Henry, George, Catherine, and Lucy), plus three servants. Their large new house (below) was situated in what was then known as St Giles’ Road but is now Woodstock Road. The house was called The Shrubbery, but it was nicknamed “Quidville” (presumably referring to a quid of tobacco rather than money). Its address today is 72 Woodstock Road: it was acquired by St Hugh's College in 1943 and in 1963 was converted into the Principal's Lodgings.


Mallam was re-elected on to the Corporation in 1841 and in 1846 was elected Mayor a second time (for 1846/7). He was re-elected on to the Corporation again at the end of his term of office.

Thomas Mallam died on 28 March 1850 at the age of 64 after suffering illness for several months, and his funeral was at All Saints’ Church on 4 April 1850.

His wife Lydia Mallam remained a widow for nineteen years: she died on 14 October 1869 at the age of nearly 76, and her funeral at All Saints Church was five days later.

Their eldest son Thomas Mallam with his younger brother George founded Mallam’s solicitors at 126 High Street (which still survives as Herbert Mallam Gowers Solicitors), and he moved into his father’s house.

Their third son, James Richard Mallam, founded Mallam’s Fine Art Auctioneers at 126 High Street: it later moved to its present home in St Michael Street.

See also:

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 16 December, 2021

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