Oxford History: Mayors & Lord Mayors


The Mayor’s Child

By 1551, the Mayor was allowed to present one of his own children as an automatic Freeman of Oxford.

This evolved to the point where Mayors were allowed to present a man other than their own son as the so-called “Mayor’s Child”, or as an alternative elevate a common councillor to bailiff.

By 1700 anyone admitted as Mayor’s Child was usually given an immediate chamberlain’s place.

The last person actually described as “Mayor’s Child” was William Tomkins, selected in September 1763. From 1764 the term used for the young man given his freedom and a Chamberlain’s place by the Mayor of Oxford was “Mayor’s Chamberlain”.

In November 1778 a new law was brought it that no inn-holder could in future be Mayor’s Child.

In 1797, however, the Council held an investigation of the custom of the Mayor’s child. Records showed that it was formerly limited to the power of making the Mayor’s own son free upon payment of a silver penny, and it was agreed that in future this rule should be kept. Henceforward Mayors were only allowed to present to the freedom those of their own sons who were not otherwise entitled.

In October 2008 the Privy Council at Westminster changed the law to permit the Mayor’s Child at Oxford to be a woman.






©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 13 September, 2012

Oxford Mayors home Small Shark Oxford History home