Oxford History: Mayors & Lord Mayors

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John Williams (d. 1602)

Mayor of Oxford 1598/9


John Williams was an Oxford apothecary, the son of the vinter Alderman Thomas Williams, according to council records (and not the son of the mayor Richard Williams, as Anthony Wood surmised).

In the mayoral year 1568/9 Williams became a freeman “by reason of a gilte peny, heretofore accordinge to the custome of the said Citie tendered by Mr Alderman his said father”.

Between 1573 and 1590 Williams took on four apprentice apothecaries: Walter Toldervey of Oxford (1 November 1573); Thomas White of Wiltshire (1 January 1584); Robert Skinner of Newbury (24 June 1584); and Henry Morris of Wiltshire (25 December 1591).

Williams came on to the Council as a Chamberlain on 29 September 1579. He was appointed Junior Bailiff in September 1581, and one of the Keepers of the five keys in October 1583.

Williams’ apprentice, Walter Toldervey, was admitted free on 4 November 1584.

On 1 September 1592 Williams was elected one of the thirteen Associates, paying £5 to the Keykeepers, and in October 1593 was appointed one of the four Surveyors of nuisances.

Williams was elected Mayor on 18 September 1598 (for 1598/9. At the end of his year of office he was excused from riding the franchises “in respect that the waters ar suddenly risen to highe for that purpose”. On 24 September 1599 the Mayor’s son, also called John Williams, was admitted for a gilt penny, but was not sworn as he was under age.

By October 1601 he appears to have retired from being an apothecary, as he is described as “John Williams, gent.”

† John Williams died in 1602 and was buried at St Mary-the-Virgin Church on 11 May. He was described in the burial register as “pharmacopola, burgensis, et olim major civitatis Oxon”.


See also:

  • MS. Wills Oxon W. 191.261; 69/3/47

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 25 September, 2018

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