Oxford History: Mayors & Lord Mayors


George Castle Pipkin (1859–1950)

Mayor of Oxford 1934/5

George Castle Pipkin was born at Westbury in Buckinghamshire in 1859 and baptised there on 2 October. He was the youngest child of Thomas Pipkin (born in Westbury, Buckinghamshire in c.1825) and Caroline Bayliss (born in Finmere, Oxfordshire and baptised there on 6 May 1827).

Pipkin’s parents were married in Finmere on 13 October 1845: Thomas Pipkin (20) was described as a labourer of Westbury and the son of the labourer John Pipkin, and Caroline (18) was the daughter of the late Thomas Bayliss, who was a carpenter of Finmere. Their children were as follows:

  • James Pipkin (born in Westbury and baptised there on 22 March 1846)
  • John Pipkin (born in Westbury and baptised there on 8 May 1847, with baptism also recorded at Finmere on 29 May 1847)
  • Mary Ann (born in Westbury and baptised there on 28 January 1849)
  • Harriet Pipkin (born at Finmere and baptised there on 9 February 1851)
  • Henry Pipkin (birth registered Brackley second quarter of 1852;
    probably died before being baptised, death registered Brackley third quarter of 1852)
  • Sarah Maria Pipkin (born at Finmere and baptised there on 20 March 1853)
  • Betsey Ann Pipkin (born in Westbury and baptised there on 11 March 1855)
  • Pleasant Pipkin (born in Westbury and baptised there on 3 May 1857)
  • George Castle Pipkin (born at Westbury and baptised there on 2 October 1859).

George’s parents appear to have started out their married life in Westbury, moving to Finmere in about 1850. The 1851 census shows George’s parents living at their own home in Finmere with their first three children, and his father was working as an agricultural labourer. It looks as though they moved back to Westbury in about 1854.

Soon after George's birth in 1859, his parents moved to Horspath just to the east of Oxford.

At the time of the 1861 census George (six months) was living in Horspath with his father Thomas (35), who was an agricultural labourer, his mother Caroline (34) and five of his seven surviving siblings: John (14), who was already working as a plough boy, Mary Ann (12), Harriet (10), Betsey (6), and Pleasant (4). His brother James (15), who was also a plough boy, and his sister Sarah (7) were staying in a separate house in Horspath with their grandparents, the shepherd John Pipkin (65) and his wife Maria (64)

Just two months after this census, when George was still a baby, his father Thomas Pipkin died at the age of 35 and was buried at Horspath on 16 June 1861.

George’s widowed mother Caroline Pipkin must have moved to Cowley by 1867, as he later claimed that he began work at the age of eight driving a plough there, and that clods of earth were thrown at him for not ploughing a straight furrow.

At the time of the 1871 census George (11) was living at Church Cowley with his mother Caroline (44) and his brother John (23), who was a bricklayer, and his sisters Betsey (16) and Pleasant (13).

In 1873 at the age of 13, George was apprenticed to a bricklayer.

On 9 September 1879 at St James's Church, Cowley, George Castle Pipkin (21) married his first wife, Annie Taylor (21), the daughter of Thomas Taylor, a Cowley farm labourer. Pipkin himself was described simply as a labourer at the time of his wedding, but as a mason of Temple Cowley when his first child was baptised. They had the following children:

  • Adelaide Emily Pipkin (baptised on 6 June 1880 at Cowley St James Church;
    died aged one, buried there on 29 November 1881)
  • Cyril Lloyd Pipkin (baptised on 11 June 1882 at SS Mary & John Church;
    died aged one, buried 29 August 1883 at Cowley St James Church)
  • Alfred Samuel Lacey Pipkin (born in 1885/6, registered first quarter of 1886)
  • Elfrida Alice Pipkin (born in 1888, registered third quarter;
    died at Percy Street aged five months, buried 6 February 1889 at SS Mary & John Church).

At the time of the 1881 census George Pipkin (22), described as a stonemason, was living in Church Street, Cowley (now Beauchamp Lane) with his wife Annie (22) and their ten-month-old daughter Adelaide. His wife’s father Thomas Taylor (53), who was working as a farm labourer, and his wife’s younger siblings Willilam Taylor (14), who was a farm labourer and Mary Taylor (12) and Harry Taylor (9) also lived with them, but Pipkin was deemed to be head of the household.

A year later when he was 23 George Castle started the firm that that was to develop into G. C. Pipkin & Sons, builders.

His first wife Annie Pipkin died at Percy Street at the age of 30 and was buried in unconsecrated ground at SS Mary & St John Church on 22 June 1889.

On 30 March 1891 at SS Mary & John Church, Cowley Road, George Pipkin (30), described as a bricklayer of Percy Street, married his second wife, Mary Emily Barnes, a spinster of 122 Howard Street who was born in Cowley in c.1863. The 1891 census shows George (31), now described as a bricklayer, living at 3 Howard Street with Mary (27) and Alfred (5), the only surviving child of his first marriage. He and his second wife had ten children:

  • Cyril Walter Pipkin (born February 1892 at Howard Street,
    died aged seventeen days, and buried in unconsecrated ground at SS Mary & John churchyard on 10 March 1892)
  • Philip George Pipkin (born at the end of December 1892 at Howard Street,
    died aged seven weeks and buried with Cyril at SS Mary & John churchyard on 22 February 1893)
  • Charles Henry Pipkin (born in February 1894 at 50 Howard Street;
    died at aged 9 weeks, buried at Rose Hill Cemetery on 6 April 1894
  • Alice Mary Pipkin (born 1894/5, registered first quarter 1895)
  • Jesse Edgar Pipkin (born on 28 April 1896)
  • Frank Richard Pipkin (born on 10 June 1898)
  • Edith Gertrude Pipkin (born 18 March 1901)
  • Victor Frederick Pipkin (born on 7 October 1902)
  • Grace Elizabeth Pipkin (born on 20 January 1905)
  • Ruth May Pipkin (born 1907, registered third quarter).

By 1893 the family had moved to 50 Howard Street.

George C. Pipkin was described as a builder of Howard Street in Jackson’s Oxford Journal of 25 March 1899, when he was a witness in court concerning the claim by William Frederick Cross against his tenant for dilapidations at 49 Iffley Road. Pipkin had sent in an estimate of £25 for the work, but did not get it.

The 1901 census shows George (41), described as a bricklayer, living at 50 Howard Street with his second wife Mary (37) and their children Jesse (4), Frank (2), and Edith (fourteen days). Also living with him was Alfred (15), the only surviving son from his first marriage who was now a bricklayer, and his widowed mother Caroline Pipkin (73). His daughter Alice (6) was staying at Hockmore Street with her maternal grandparents Joseph and Ann Barnes: her grandfather was still working as a farm labourer at the age of 67.

Between 1901 and 1903 Pipkin built eleven houses in the Banbury Road (Nos. 160–180).

In 1904 George's mother Caroline Pipkin died at the age of 76 and was buried at Rose Hill Cemetery on 15 October.

His son by his first marriage was married in 1905:

  • Near the end of 1905 in the Headington registration district, Alfred Samuel Lacey Pipkin, married Margaret Ann Wright.

By the time of the 1911 census George (52), still described as a bricklayer and an employer, was living at 60 Warwick Street with his wife Mary (47) and their seven surviving children Alice (16), Jesse (15), Frank (13), Edith (10), Victor (8), Grace (6), and Ruth (3).

In Kelly’s Directory from 1914 to 1919 George Castle Pipkin was listed simply as a decorator. By 1921 G. C. Pipkin & Sons, builders were listed at 60 Warwick Street.

His daughter Alice was married in 1918:

  • On 1 May 1918 at Ss Mary & John Church, Alice Mary Pipkin (23), described as a shop assistant of 60 Warwick Street, married Sidney David Francis (25), a Chief Mechanic in the Royal Air Force on Active Service.

Pipkin’s second wife Mary Emily Pipkin died in the Radcliffe Infirmary at the age of 57 and was buried at Rose Hill Cemetery on 29 August 1921.

Within a few months of his second wife's death he became a councillor for the first time (although he had been a member of the East Oxford Liberal Club from its foundation, and was its President for a period). He was first elected as councillor for the East Ward in November 1922, when he was 62 years old. He was Chairman for seven years of the Waterworks Committee, and for five years of the Estates Committee and Vice-Chairman of the Highways Committee.

In 1925 his son Jesse was married:

  • On 17 October 1925 at Iffley, Jesse Edgar Pipkin (29), described as a builder of Cowley St John parish, married Phyllis Marian Ludlow (28), the daughter of Percival Ludlow, a boat-builder of Iffley.

His son Frank was married in 1931:

  • In 1931 in the Headington registration district, Frank Richard Pipkin married Edith E. Fox.

George Castle Pipkin was 74 years old when in 1934 he was elected Mayor of Oxford (for 1934/5).

Pipkin was a member of the Oxford and District Co-operative Society for over 60 years, the East Oxford Bowls Club, the East Oxford Horticultural Show, and the Court Loyal Oxonian (2991) Ancient Order of Foresters.

Three more of his children were married in the mid-1930s:

  • In 1936 in Oxford, Grace Elizabeth Pipkin married Frank L. Wigmore.
  • Near the beginning of 1937 in Oxford, Ruth May Pipkin married Percival J. Coombs.
  • Later in 1937 in Oxford, Victor Frederick Pipkin married Louise Bathe.

He continued as a councillor until he was made an Alderman in 1937. He resigned from being an Alderman in 1948.

His only surviving son from his first marriage, Alfred Samuel Lacy Pipkin, was living at 14 Howard Street when he died at the Radcliffe Infirmary on 3 June 1949.

† George Castle Pipkin died at 60 Warwick Street on 2 May 1950 at the age of 90, and was buried three days later at Rose Hill Cemetery. His effects came to £5,518 3s. 7d., and his executors were his three sons from his second marriage, Jesse Edgar Pipkin, Frank Richard Pipkin, and Victor Frederick Pipkin, who were all builders. He was also survived by four daughters from his second marriage.

G. C. Pipkin and Sons, builders were still at 60 Warwick Street in 1980. In 1993 they were listed at 62 Warwick Street, and were gone by 1996.

Pipkin Way off the Boundary Brook Road in East Oxford was named after this Mayor.

See also:

  • Oxford Times, 5 May 1950, p. 7e (obituary)
  • 1861 Census: Oxford (Horspath & Shotover), 889/106
  • 1871 Census: Oxford (Cowley & Iffley), 1434/125
  • 1881 Census: Oxford (Cowley), 1497/31
  • 1891 Census: Oxford (Cowley 3), 1164/11
  • 1901 Census: Oxford (Cowley St John), 1379/8

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 14 May, 2020

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