Oxford History: Mayors & Lord Mayors


John Thorp (1787–1856)

Mayor of Oxford 1845/6

John Thorp
From a miniature of John Thorp in the
possession of his descendant, Arthur Parsons

John Thorp was born in Oxford on 25 April 1787 and baptised at St Mary Magdalen Church in Oxford on 16 May.

He came from a long line of Oxford Mayors, elected in the years shown in brackets below:

His father John Wise Thorp
(Mayor 1805 and 1822)

His grandfather William Thorp I
(Mayor 1775 and 1789)

His maternal grandfather Isaac Lawrence
(Mayor 1759, 1768, and 1784)

His maternal great-grandfather Thomas Lawrence
(Mayor 1737 and 1745)

His older brother William Thorpe II
(Mayor 1833, 1844, and 1848)

John Thorp was the second son of John Wise Thorp, mercer of 44 Broad Street, and Dorothy Lawrence, who were married on 27 January 1784 at St Michael-at-the-Northgate Church. His older brother William Wise Thorp was baptised at St Mary Magdalen Church on 30 June 1785. Two children born after John died in infancy, and he then had two surviving sisters, Susannah (1793) and Maria (1796).

John's mother died in June 1796 when he was nine years old.

John Thorp was admitted free on 6 October 1812. He was described as a hosier until 1823, and thereafter a mercer, and his business was at 44 Broad Street in St Mary Magdalen parish.

On 5 September 1818 at St Mary-the-Virgin Church, John Thorp married Maria Hester of that parish, and the marriage was announced in Jackson’s Oxford Journal on 12 September 1818. They had the following six children:

  • Susannah Thorp (baptised on 11 July 1819 at St Mary Magdalen Church)
  • Maria Thorp (baptised on 14 May 1821 at St Mary Magdalen Church)
  • John Charles Thorp (born on 20 March 1823 and baptised at St Mary Magdalen Church on 15 April)
  • Ann Hester Thorp (born 6 December 1824 and baptised at St Mary Magdalen Church on 30 December)
  • Frances (Fanny) Mary Thorp (baptised at St Mary Magdalen Church on 26 November 1826;
    died aged two, buried there in 1828)
  • William Hester Thorp (baptised at St Mary Magdalen Church on 12 August 1828;
    buried there a month later).

John Thorp was elected as a member of the corporation in 1827 and made a chamberlain in 1829.

On 4 August 1830 his wife Maria Thorp died at the age of 34 and was buried at St Mary Magdalen Church a week later.

Thorp was elected Bailiff in 1831. In 1835 under the new system he was elected a councillor for the ward in which he lived.

The 1841 census shows Thorp living as a widower over his shop at 44 Broad Street with his four surviving children (Susanna, Maria, John, and Ann), plus a shopman and three servants. He is described as a mercer.

Thorp was made an Alderman in 1844, and the next year was elected Mayor of Oxford (for 1845/6). On 18 July 1846 he perambulated the city boundaries (brief description).

In Jackson's Oxford Journal of 7 July 1849 John Thorp announced that he was declining the family business at 44 & 45 Broad Street in favour of his only surviving son, John Charles Thorp.

At the time of 1851 census, John Charles Thorp (28) was living at 44 Broad Street with his wife Susan and their first two children and running the business. John Thorp himself had moved in his retirement to 52 St John Street, and in 1851 he was living there with his unmarried daughter Ann and three servants; his married daughter Maria and her children were also visiting from London.

Thorp resigned his aldermanship in November 1856 through ill health, and died just a month later.

† John Thorp died at his Broad Street home on 30 December 1856 at the age of 69. His funeral was held at St Mary Magdalen Church five days later. This obituary was published in Jackson's Oxford Journal on 3 January 1857:

DEATH OF MR. JOHN THORP. We regret to announce the death, on Tuesday morning last, after a short illness, of Mr. John Thorp, of this city, one of the city magistrates and late alderman. Mr. Thorp had been in declining health for some time past, and that circumstance induced him to resign the office of alderman in November last. Mr. Thorp was a good and useful citizen, and distinguished for his kindness of heart and strict integrity. Mr. Thorp was a member of the old corporation, to which he was elected in 1827.He served the office of chamberlain in 1829, and that of bailiff in 1831. On the formation of the new council, under the Municipal Act, in 1835, Mr. Thorp was elected a councillor for the ward in which he lived. In 1844 he was elected an alderman, and in 1845 was chosen mayor. He was re-elected alderman in 1850, and would have had the same honour conferred on him again in November last, but he declined it on account of his health and age. Mr. Thorp was in his 70th year.

His executors ordered the sale at his shop at 44 Broad Street of all his drapery stock, starting on Monday 12 January 1857. This included silk, French merino, flounced evening, and other fancy dresses; paisley, llama, cashmere, and other shawls; opera cloaks and mantles; fancy handkerchiefs, ribbons, lace, and muslin goods; Irish linens, sheetings, damasks, calicoes, flannels and blankets; well-seasoned furs; hosiery, umbrellas, parasols, and gloves.

John Thorp’s surviving children
  • Susannah Thorp married the Revd William Powell in 1849
  • Maria Thorp married William Laffin in New Melbourne, Australia in 1845
  • John Charles Thorp married Susan Joy at St Cross Church on 9 February 1847, and John Joy Thorp was born on 18 February 1848, Susan Ann Thorp on 28 October 1849, and William Thorp on 6 February 1861. Susan died in 1876 and he then married Mrs Louisa Hooper, née Oliver on 23 April 1877.
  • Ann Hester Thorp married James Waldie in 1858 and took over the Thorp family business, which became Thorp & Waldie

See also:

  • William Thorp I, Mayor 1775, 1789 (his paternal grandfather)
  • John Wise Thorp, Mayor 1805, 1822 (his father)
  • William Thorp II, Mayor 1833, 1844, 1848 (his older brother)
  • Thomas Lawrence, Mayor 1737, 1735 (his maternal great-grandfather)
  • Isaac Lawrence, Mayor 1737, 1745 (his maternal grandfather)
  • Jackson’s Oxford Journal, 12 September 1818: Announcement of Thorp’s marriage
  • Jackson’s Oxford Journal, 3 January 1857, p. 5b: Thorp’s obituary
  • PCC Will PROB 11/2250/233 (Will of John Thorp, Magistrate of Oxford, proved 23 April 1857)
  • 1841 Census: Oxford (St Mary Magdalen), 891/11/6
  • 1851 Census: Oxford (St Mary Magdalen), 1728/583

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 21 January, 2022

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