Oxford History: Mayors & Lord Mayors


John Henry Salter (1853–1930)

Mayor of Oxford 1902/3

John Henry Salter was born in Wandsworth, Surrey in late 1853, the eldest son of the boat-builder John Salter (born in Fulham in 1826) and Harriet Yates (born in Wandsworth 1833) , who were married in the Marylebone district near the beginning of 1853. His parents had two other sons born in the Wandsworth district: Thomas Alfred Salter (1855) and James Edward Salter (1857).

In 1858, when John was four years old, his father John Salter and his uncle Stephen Salter moved to Oxford to take over Isaac King’s boat-building firm at Folly Bridge, marking the beginning of the Salters’ Steamers firm which still survives today. The birth of his next three siblings was registered in Oxford: George Stephen Salter (1859), Elizabeth Annie Salter (1861), Kate Salter (1863), and Fanny Salter (1865).

At the time of the 1861 census John (7) was living at 45 St Aldate’s Street with his father John (34), who was a boat builder, his mother Harriet (27) and his four younger siblings Thomas (5), James (4), George (2), and Elizabeth (one month and as yet unnamed). Also living with the family were Mrs Harriet Salter’s younger sisters, Jane Yates (17) and Elizabeth Yates (12). The birth of John's two youngest sisters Kate and Fanny was registered in 1863 and early 1865 respectively.

John's sister Elizabeth Annie Salter died at St Aldate's at the age of 1 year 10 months, and her funeral was held at All Saints’ Church on 22 January 1863.

In early 1865 when John was aged eleven, soon after giving birth to her youngest child, his mother Harriet Salter died at St Aldate's at the age of 31, and her funeral was held at All Saints' Church on 2 March.

At the time of the 1871 census John (17), described as a boat builder, was living at 45 St Aldate’s Street with his father John (45), who was helped by a housekeeper and a domestic servant, and his five younger siblings: Thomas (15) and James (14) were also described as boat builders, while George (12), Kate (8), and Fanny (6) were still at school.

On 10 August 1876 at St Mary Magdalen Church, Oxford, John Henry Salter married Alice Louisa Millin, the daughter of an Oxford draper. They had no children

At the time of the 1881 census John (27), described as a boat builder, and Alice (26) were living at Folly Bridge Wharf with a 14-year-old servant girl.

Salter’s uncle Stephen Salter retired from the boat-building business and his father John Salter died in Oxford at the age of 64 in January 1890, and John Henry Salter took over the family business with his two younger brothers James and George. Its name was changed from J. & S. Salter to Salter Brothers, and in 1888 they launched their own steamboat service between Oxford and Kingston on the Alaska. The Salter family were strict Wesleyan Methodists, and originally boats were not let or operated on a Sunday, and alcohol was not served on board.

Oxford to Kingston steamer

John Henry Salter was elected on to the council as a Liberal representing the South Ward in the early 1880s, and remained a councillor for nearly 50 years until his death.

At the time of the 1891 census Salter was living with his wife at the Toll House,

In 1901 Salter (47), described as a J.P. and boat builder, was living at 5 Abingdon Road with his wife Alice (46), and her niece Winifred Millin (23), plus a cook, housemaid, and gardener.

In 1902 John Henry Salter was elected Mayor of Oxford (for 1902/3), and was thereafter an Alderman.

By the time of the 1911 census Salter (57), still described as a boat builder, was living in a ten-roomed house at Foxcombe Hill (which was then in Berkshire) with his wife Alice (56), his sister Fanny Salter (46), and a cook and a housemaid. His house was named as Holmwood in the 1914 Kelly's Directory.

In 1915 John Henry Salter moved back into the city, and spent the rest of his life at Mayfield, 55 Banbury Road.

† John Henry Salter died at Mayfield, 55 Banbury Road on 16 October 1930 at the age of 76. He was buried at Wolvercote Cemetery on 20 October (Grave C1/124).

His effects came to £22,632, and his executors were his brothers James and George, and his nephew John Francis Salter.

His wife Alice Louisa Salter died in Oxford at the age of 78. She was buried on 7 March 1933 at Wolvercote Cemetery in a separate grave from her husband (Grave C1/136).

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©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 20 August, 2021

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