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Charles Tawney (1780–1853)

Mayor of Oxford 1837/8 and 1840/1


Charles Tawney was born in Oxford in 1780 and baptised at St Cross Church on 24 December. He was the youngest child of Henry Tawney, a carpenter and builder of St Peter-in-the-East parish, Oxford who had been matriculated as a privileged person at the University of Oxford on 15 July 1772. Charles's grandfather Robert Tawney was the brother of the brewer and former Mayor of Oxford Richard Tawney II.

Charles's mother was Elizabeth Treacher, the first cousin of Sir John Treacher, who was to be Mayor of Oxford in 1794/5.

Charles Tawney's parents were married at Pyrton on 1 October 1772, and his three older siblings were also baptised at St Cross Church: Richard Tawney in 1774, Robert Edward Tawney in 1776, and Mary Tawney in 1778.

Charles's father Henry Tawney died in 1798 at the age of 52 and was buried in St Cross Churchyard on 25 June.

Charles's sister Mary Tawney died the following year at the age of 21 and was buried at St Cross on 27 August, and his brother Robert Edward Tawney the year after that at the age of 23 and was buried there on 27 August.

On 21 December 1804 at Holy Trinity Church, Clapham, Surrey Charles Tawney of Holywell (St Cross) parish, Oxford married Ann Copland of Clapham, and the marriage was announced in Jackson's Oxford Journal on 29 December. In 1807 Ann's father Gabriel Copland Esq took over land in Burcot, just to the north of Dorcester in Oxfordshire, and put in Charles Tawney as the tenant on the farm. Charles and Ann had three children there:

  • Elizabeth Copland Tawney (born at Burcot on 8 February 1810 and baptised at Dorchester)
  • Harry or Henry Copland Tawney (born at Burcot in 1811)
  • Martha Copland Tawney (born at Burcot on 9 August 1813 and baptised at Dorchester).

By 1818 Tawney was a Governor of the Radcliffe Infirmary. He took the role seriously, personally superintending the construction of a machine for rheumatic patients,

Charles Tawney and his family left Burcot around the end of 1820, as this extract from Jackson’s Oxford Journal of 2 September 1820 shows:

Sale of Tawney's Burcot Farm in 1820

Charles Tawney was a partner with Henry Hall in the Swan Brewery in St Thomas’s (Hall & Tawney), and he may have inherited his share in the brewery from his mother’s first cousin, the former Mayor Sir John Treacher, who had died in 1807.

His mother Elizabeth Tawney died in 1821 at the age of 71 and was buried in St Cross churchyard on 16 January.

Charles Tawney was admitted free as a brewer on 28 August 1829 and came on to the Common Council in 1831.

On 21 February 1832 at St Cross Church, his elder daughter Elizabeth Copland Tawney married the Physician of the Radcliffe Infirmary, Charles Joseph Bishop.

Tawney was elected Junior Chamberlain in 1832. After the passing of the Municipal Corporations Act, he was elected councillor for the North Ward on 26 December 1835 and six days later was elected an Alderman for three years.

In 1837 Tawney was elected Mayor of Oxford (for 1837/8), the fourth of the five members of the Tawney family to hold this office. Queen Victoria was crowned during his ”The consideration of the claim of the City to attend her Majesty’s Coronation”. Mr Talboys described it as “an idle and expensive ceremony”, and Mr Warner said that he would be glad to see such “childish and expensive pageants” done away with altogether. Tawney said that if there were a royal banquet, he would pay all his expenses out of his own pocket, so it seems likely that he did attend the ceremony.

In his mayoral year Tawney issued an order for the positive exclusion of the gipsies from St Giles’ Fair, resulting in a rhyme in the Oxford Herald called, “The gipsies’ humble petition and remonstrance, addressed to the Worshipful Mayor of Oxford”.

In 1840 Tawney was again elected Mayor of Oxford (for 1840/1).

At the time of the 1841 census, Charles Tawney (60), described as a brewer, was living at Paradise Street in St Thomas's parish with his wife, his son Henry (29), and and his younger daughter Martha (27). Also with him was his widowed elder daughter Elizabeth Bishop and her four children.

In 1842 Tawney inherited Headington Lodge, a mansion in five acres of garden in the present Osler Road in Headington. Although his main residence was at Brewery House in Paradise Street, he must have used Headington Lodge as his country retreat, as the Headington rent-book shows him as both owner and occupier. He certainly did good works in Headington, including buying the land on which Headington National School (now St Andrew’s Primary School) was built in 1847/8.

At the time of the 1851 census he was still living in Paradise Street at the age of 70 with his wife and his son Henry, who at 39 was unmarried and described simply as a “gentleman”.

† Charles Tawney died at St Thomas's parish in 1853 at the age of 72. His funeral was held at St Cross Church, and he was buried in Holywell Cemetery on 18 June (Plot A72: Photograph).

His wife Ann Tawney died at the age of 74 just over a year later, and was buried in Holywell Cemetery on 2 March 1854 (Plot A74).

Their unmarried son Henry Copland Tawney was buried with them in 1878.

Only one of Charles Tawney's children, Elizabeth, married, and she had four children: Ann Bessy Bishop (1833), Charles William Bishop (1834), Mary Ellen Bishop (1835), and Martha Grace MacLean Bishop (1839)

Charles’s inheritance in Headington had come to him by a complicated route. Richard Tawney the brewer had one daughter, Jane, by his first marriage and two sons, Richard and Edward (both also Mayors), by his second. Neither Richard nor Edward had any children to whom they could pass on the family brewing firm, but Jane’s daughter (also called Jane) had married her cousin Robert Tawney, so that her daughter Ann was doubly related. When Edward died in 1800, he left everything to Ann Tawney (who in 1777 had married the apothecary Theophilus Wharton) for her lifetime, and to her eldest son Theophilus Wharton junior (born 1778) after her death. Theophilus junior had no children, and so his sister Jane, who married the brewer James Morrell, inherited everything, and it passed on to their son Mark Theophilus Morrell He died in 1842 at the age of 29, leaving Headington Lodge, a mansion built by his uncle, to his cousin Charles Tawney.


See also:

  • Richard Tawney I, his great-great uncle (Mayor in 1748)
  • Richard Tawney II, his first cousin twice removed (Mayor in 1764/5, 1778/9, and 1790)
  • Edward Tawney, his first cousin twice removed (Mayor in 1772, 1784, and 1798)
  • Lilia Sophia Tawney
  • Brigid Allen, Morrells of Oxford. The Family and their Brewery 1743–1993 (Oxfordshire Books, 1994), esp. Tawney family tree on p. 6 and pp. xix, 41, and 46
  • PCC Will PROB 11/2176/139 (Will of Charles Tawney of Oxford, proved 15 July 1853)
  • (his father), PCC Will PROB 11/1315 (Will of Henry Tawney, Carpenter of Holywell Oxford, proved 16 November 1798)
  • Jackson’s Oxford Journal, 29 December 1804: Announcement of Tawney’s marriage
  • 1841 Census: Oxford (St Thomas), 891/17/18]
  • 1851 Census: Oxford (St Thomas), 1728/350
  • Jackson’s Oxford Journal, 18 June 1853: Charles Tawney’s obituar

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 13 October, 2018

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