Oxford History: Mayors & Lord Mayors


Robert Pike (1803–1885)

Mayor of Oxford 1872/3

Robert Pike was born at Chudleigh, Devon in 1803.

Pike became an accountant and had settled in Oxford by 1832, when in Jackson’s Oxford Journal he is described as being “of this city” at the time of his marriage to Marianne Osborne, the third daughter of Mr John Osborne, late of Leigh in Essex, at St Mary’s Church, Cheltenham. They had two children:

  • Frederick Robert Pike (born in Oxford in 1833 and baptised at St Cross Church on 12 May)
  • Emily Mary Pike (born in Oxford in 1839 and baptised at St Mary Magdalen Church on 24 July)

The couple lived initially in the parish of St Cross, but by 1839 Pike was listed as an accountant at 4 St John Street (in St Mary Magdalen parish). The 1841 census shows him living there with his wife Marianne and their daughter: Frederick was probably away at school.

On 24 December 1841 Pike announced in Jackson's Oxford Journal that he was expanding into another profession:

Robert Pike, Accountant,
RESPECTFULLY announces to the public that in consequence of the demise of his highly-esteemed and much lamented friend, Mr. James Giles, jun. he purposes uniting with his present occupation that of AUCTIONEER, APPRAISER, and HOUSE AGENT, and begs to solicit a share of public patronage, which it will be his most anxious desire to merit by observing the strictest punctuality and attention.
     4, St. John-street, Oxford, Dec. 23, 1841.

By 1846 Pike had moved to 2 St Aldate’s Street (just to the north of the Town Hall, and then in St Martin’s parish) and was listed as an auctioneer at that address in Hunt’s Directory that year. He can be seen with his wife at 2 St Aldate's Street in the 1851 census, duly described as both an auctioneer and estate agent. They had two servants and a student lodger from Christ Church, and both the children were away from home: Frederick was a merchant’s clerk living with a solicitor in Covent Garden, but Emily is hard to find.

In 1859 Robert Pike was elected to repesent the West Ward on the city council.

By the time of the next census in 1861

In 1861 Robert Pike (57) and his wife Marianne (52) were still living at 2 St Aldate’s Street with their daughter Emily, (21), and Edward Seligman, a Cologne-born spirit merchant who became a naturalized Briton, was paying the family a visit. Later that year their daughter married him:

  • On 1 August 1861 at St John’s Church, Paddington, Emily Mary Pike married Edward Seligman.

By 1861 heir only son Frederick Robert Pike had emigrated to New York and married Emma Jeanetta (surname unknown, born in Camanche Town, Iowa in c.1839). They had seven children. The first two were born in Detroit, Michigan: Maud Marion Pike (1862) and Frederick Grosvenor Pike (1864), and the next four in New York: Mary Ann Florence Pike (1865), Eleanor Osborne Pike (1867), and Emily Seligman Pike. Their next daughter, Mabel Davis Pike, was born in Bloomfield, New Jersey in c.1871, and their seventh child appears to be Edward Harry Pike.

5 Norham Gardens

In 1865 Robert Pike retired to Grosvenor Lodge, 5 Norham Gardens (right). He was the first occupier of this house, which was designed by William Wilkinson. He and his wife had four servants here in 1871, including a 17-year-old page boy.

At the time of that census his son Frederick was paying a visit from the States and was staying with them in this house with his wife Emma and five of their American-born children: Frederick (7), Mary (6), Eleanor (4), Emily (2), and Mabel (six months). They had four servants: a cook, two housemaids, and a page boy.

His grandson Frederick Grosvenor Pike died at this house at the age of eight on 6 November 1871.

Pike was elected to represent the Town Council on the West Ward. In 1872 he was elected Mayor of Oxford for 1872/3 and hence became a Justice of the Peace. He resigned as a councillor when he was made an Alderman in 1877.

The 1881 census shows Alderman Pike at the age of 78) at his home at 5 Norham Gardens with his wife Marianne (71) and three servants. His “occupation” was described as “Bank shares”.

Pike resigned from the council in 1882 because of ill-health.

† Robert Pike died at the age of 81 on 3 May 1885 at Norham Gardens. His funeral was on 6 May at St Giles’s Church, followed by interment at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery. The following report appeared in Jackson’s Oxford Journal on 9 May 1885:

DEATH OF MR. ROBERT PIKE.—We have to announce the death, after a somewhat protracted illness, of Mr. Robert Pike, who died on Sunday last at his residence, Grosvenor Lodge, Norham Gardens, at the advanced age of 81. Mr. Pike had seen a good deal of public life, he having been elected to the Town Council to represent the West Ward as long ago as 1859, and he continued to sit for that Ward until the year 1877, when he was made an Alderman, on the resignation of the late Mr. Grubb. He served the office of Mayor of the City in 1872, and was appointed a Justice of the Peace in 1874. He resigned the office of Alderman two or three years since on account of failing health. The funeral took place on Wednesday, at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery, Walton-street, and was of a very private character.

His widow Marianne died in Brighton at the age of 78 on 15 March 1888, and was presumably buried there.

See also:

  • Jackson’s Oxford Journal, 9 May 1885, p. 5d (obituary)
  • 1841 Census: Oxford (St Mary Magdalen), 891/11/17
  • 1851 Census: Oxford (St Martin), 1728/114
  • 1861 Census: Oxford (St Martin), 893/6
  • 1871 Census: Oxford (St Paul), 1436/88
  • 1881 Census: Oxford (St Giles), 1499/137

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 9 June, 2021

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