Oxford History: Mayors & Lord Mayors


Norman Whatley (1884–1965)

Mayor of Oxford 1949/50

Norman Whatley was born at Kidbrooke, near Blackheath, Kent on 8 September 1884, the son of the solicitor Arthur Thomas Whatley (born at Marylebone in 1851) and Edith Spurling (born at Peckham, Surrey in 1848). His parents were married in Lewisham in 1877 and had five other children, all born in Kidbrooke and registered in the Woolwich district: Arthur Percival Whatley (1878/9), Claude Whatley (1881), Phyllis Mary Whatley (1882), Edith Whatley (1886), and Dorothy Hughes Whatley (1888/9)

The 1891 census shows Norman Whatley (6) living at 1 Kidbrooke Grove, Greenwich with his parents and five siblings, plus four servants (a nurse, cook, housemaid, and nursemaid).

Norman was educated at Radley College, and won a scholarship to Hertford College, Oxford, where he gained a double first in Literae Humaniores (Classics).

Whatley was a Fellow of Hertford College from 1907 to 1923. For part of this period he was a University Lecturer in Ancient History, and he also acted as Dean and Senior Tutor of the College.

The 1911 census shows Norman Whatley (26), described as a Fellow & Lecturer, Hertford College, Oxford, at home with his parents at 7 Pond Road, Blackheath, a house with 13 rooms. His older brother Claude (30), who was a solicitor, and his younger sisters Edith (24) and Dorothy (22) were also at home, and two of his parents grandchildren, surnamed Jackson, were paying a visit with their nurse. The family had four servants: a cook, a children's nurse, parlourmaid, and housemaid.

From 1909 Whatley had had a commission in the Territorial Force, and in the First World War he volunteered to serve immediately and was mobilized in August 1914. He served as a Captain, first on the staff of No. 4 Officer Cadet Battalion in Oxford and then with the Intelligence Corps in France. He was mentioned in despatches in February 1917

On 16 July 1914 at St Saviour's Church in Pimlico, Norman Whatley (29), described as a Fellow & Tutor of Hertford College, married Norah Radley Croome, who lived at 114 Denbigh Street, Pimlico and was the daughter of the writer and former county cricketer Arthur Capel Molyneux Croome. They had three sons:

  • John Whatley (born in Oxford in 1915)
  • David Norman Whatley (born in Oxford on 3 October 1918)
  • William Denman Whatley (born in Oxford in 1921).

Whatley was first elected on to the Council in 1919 as one of the three councillors of the University Ward, but had to resign in 1923 when he took up an appointment as Headmaster of Clifton College, Bristol.

He returned to Oxford in 1939, taking the place until 1944 of a master at St Edward’s School who was on active war service. The 1939 register shows Norman Whatley, described as a retired headmaster and temporary assistant master, living at 10 Staverton Road with his wife Norah and his son David, who was an undergraduate, and William, who was a flight cadet in the R.A.F. awaiting posting.

Two of Whatley’s three sons (John and William) were killed on active service in the Second World War.

Norman Whatley returned on to the City Council in 1944, and served as Chair of the Education Committee. He relinquished this post in 1949 when he was elected Mayor of Oxford (for 1949/50).

Whatley retired from the Council in 1961.

† Norman Whatley was still living at 10 Staverton Road when he died in the Radcliffe Infirmary on 2 April 1965 at the age of 80. His funeral service was at St Giles’ Church.

His effects came to £32,636, and his executors were his wife Norah and his only surviving son David Norman Whatley, who was now a master at a public school.

See also:

  • Oxford Times, 9 April 1965, p. 11 (obituary)

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 6 February, 2022

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