Oxford History: Mayors & Lord Mayors


James Pike (1811–1879)

Mayor of Oxford 1855/6

James Pike was born in Oxford on 3 July 1811 and baptised at St Thomas’s Church on 26 July. He was the son of John and Maria Pike. His brother John Pike had been baptised at St Peter-le-Bailey Church on 6 May 1801 (buried at St Thomas's Church on 11 March 1803). His next two two older siblings were baptised at St Thomas's Church: John Pike on 5 September 1804 (buried there on 7 September) and Miltadah Pike on 16 September 1808.

On 1 July 1834 at Hungerford, Berkshire, James Pike, described as being of St Thomas's parish, Oxford, married Sarah Purdue of Hungerford. He brought his wife back to Oxford, but they had only been married for just over a year when she died there at the age of 23. She was buried at the Oxford Wesleyan Chapel on 22 December 1835, and was described in the register as being “the wife of James Pike, of Walton Place, St Thomas”.

On 24 February 1838 at St Ann's Church, Dublin, James Pike married his second wife Mary Anne Burnett, daughter of the late Richard Burnett, Esq. of Dublin, and their marriage was announced in Jackson’s Oxford Journal of 3 March 1838. They had nine children:

  • Marion Pike (born at St Anne’s in Dublin on 25 November 1838 and baptised at
    St Thomas’s Church, Oxford on 6 June 1839)
  • James Burnett Pike (baptised at St Thomas’s Church on 12 January 1842)
  • Elizabeth Maria Pike (baptised at St Paul’s Church on 25 March 1844)
  • Charles Frederick Pike (baptised at St Paul’s Church on 6 March 1846)
  • Florence Matilda Pike (baptised at the Wesley Memorial Church on 22 December 1847)
  • Kathleen Sophia Pike (baptised at the Wesley Memorial Church on 3 April 1850)
  • Edith Pike (baptised at the Wesley Memorial Church on 15 December 1851)
  • [Richard] Walter Pike (baptised at the Wesley Memorial Church on 8 September 1853)
  • Ella Clarinda Pike (baptised at the Wesley Memorial Church on 1 July 1859, registered as Ella Marie Pike).

It appears that the couple began their marriage in Dublin, where their first child was born, but a few months later James returned to Oxford with his wife and baby daughter. Their first four children were baptised into the Church of England: the first two at St Thomas's Church (when they were probably living still living in Worcester Street), and then from 1844 at St Paul's Church (when they had moved to Worcester Street). From 1847, however, his children were baptised at the forerunner of the present Wesley Memorial Church in New Inn Hall Street.

Pike was described as a hop merchant in the parish register at his daughter’s baptism in June 1839, and as a “Hop, & Lead, & Window Glass Merchant, Cut Glass Manufacturer, & Staffordshire & China Warehouse” of George Street, Oxford in Hobson’s Commercial Directory for 1839.

At the time of the 1841 census James was living at Worcester Street with a servant and a clerk and his wife and daughter were away, possibly in Ireland. In the later censuses, Pike’s address was given specifically as Worcester House, 1 Worcester Street.

On 1 November 1849 James Pike was returned as city councillor for the North Ward with no opposition.

The 1851 census shows James Pike (39), described as a hop merchant, living at Worcester Street with five of his children: Marion (12), James (9), Charles (5), Florence (3), and Kathleen (1). His wife and his daughter Elizabeth (7) were away from home, but he had five servants (a nurse, cook, housemaid, and two nursemaids) to help him.

Gardner’s Oxford Directory of 1852 listed James Pike & Co. of Worcester Street as a Hop Merchant and a Window Glass & Lead Manufacturer.

In 1855 Pike was elected Mayor of Oxford for 1855/6. He was not only the first Oxford Mayor ever chosen directly from the common councillors, but as a Wesleyan he was also the first nonconformist Mayor. He acknowledged the “peculiar honour” of his appointment, but claimed that although he preferred another system, he did not consider himself a dissenter from the Establishment.

At the time of the 1861 census Jeams (49) was at home at 1 Worcester Street with his wife Mary Ann (43) and six of their nine children: Marion (22), James (19), Elizabeth (17), Edith (9), Richard (7), and Ella (1). They now had four servants (a housekeeper/nurse, cook, housemaid, and nursemaid). Charles (15) is hard to find and disappears from the censuses from this point. Florence (13) and Kathleen (12) were at Cotham Park boarding school in Westbury, Bristol.

Two of his children died in 1863:

  • His youngest son, Richard Walter Pike died at Worcester Street at the age of ten on 8 October 1863 and the death was announced in Jackson’s Oxford Journal two days later. His funeral was held at St Paul's Church on 12 October and he was buried in St Sepulchre's Cemetery
  • His eldest daughter Marion Pike died at Worcester Street at the age of 24 in 1863. Her funeral was held at St Paul's Church on 23 January, and she was buried in St Sepulchre's Cemetery.

At the time of the 1871 census James (59), still described as a hop merchant, was home at Worcester House, 1 Worcester Plae with his wife Mary Ann (53) and five of their children: Elizabeth (27), Florence (28), Kathleen (21), Edith (19), and Ella (11). They now just had two servants (a cook and a housemaid). James (29) may be the Oxford-born commercial traveller James Pike who was married and was staying at a hotel in Newcastle under Lyme.

Five months after this census, on 29 September 1871, Pike’s wife Mary Ann Pike died at the age of 54, and a death announcement was inserted in Jackson’s Oxford Journal on 7 October 1871.

On 7 November 1871 his daughter Florence Matilda Pike died at home in Oxford at the age of 23 from an overdose of chlorodyne, a patent medicine whose principal ingredients were laudanum (an alcoholic solution of opium), tincture of cannabis, and chloroform, to which patients often became addicted. An inquest, reported in Jackson's Oxford Journal four days later on 11 November, stated that she had been taking chlorodine to alleviate acute pain from which she had suffered for some time in consequence of an affection of the liver. The chemist Thomas Thurland said he refused to let her have any more chlorodine the previous Saturday without a prescription from Dr Giles or Dr Jenkins, as she had had three bottles between 22 and 28 October.

On 16 May 1877 at St Paul's Church, Old Charlton, London, his fourth daughter Kathleen Sophia Pike married Thomas Edward de Moleyns, B.A. (Oxon.), the elder son of the Revd W. B. de Moleyns, Vicar of Burrington, Somerset and Prebend of Wells Cathedral, and an announcement was inserted in Jackson's Oxford Journal. .

Pike is not listed in any directories after 1871, and it appears that he moved away from Oxford to Charlton in London after the death of his wife.

His daughter Elizabeth Maria Pike died in the Woolwich area of London at the age of 34 near the beginning of 1878

† James Pike died at 19 Victoria Road, Charlton at the age of 67 on 7 March 1879. The announcement of his death in Jackson’s Oxford Journal of 15 March 1879 stated: “March 7, at his residence, 19, Victoria-road, Charlton, James Pike (late of the City of Oxford, J.P.) in the 68th year of his life.” His effects came to under £3,000, and his executors were the Oxford confectioner James Boffin and Christopher Pike, a hop merchant of Southwark.

His son Charles Frederick Pike died two years later at the age of 35 on 31 March 1881 at 5 St John's Road, Clapham Junction, London. He was buried at St Mary's Church, Battersea on 4 April.

In 1881 his daughters Mrs Kathleen Moleyns (28) and Ella Pike  (21) were boarding together in Marylebone.

See also:

  • 1841 Census (St Thomas), 891/18/12
  • 1851 Census (St Thomas), 1728/417
  • 1861 Census (St Thomas), 896/49
  • 1871 Census (St Thomas), 1441/26

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 25 October, 2018

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