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Walter Cave (c.1602–1662/3)

Mayor of Oxford 1650/1


Walter Cave was baptised at St Mary’s Church, Witney on 28 March 1602. He was the second son of Thomas Cave of St Helen’s, Worcester and Katharine Jones, the daughter of Walter Jones of Witney, who had married in 1592. His three older siblings had also been baptised at Witney: Anne (29 December 1593); Richard, later Sir Richard (18 August 1596); and Margaret (26 August 1599).

On 7 July 1619 Cave was apprenticed to the Oxford mercer Thomas Cooper.

By the 1630s Walter Cave had become a brewer.

On 17 February 1630/1 at St Peter's Church in Wolvercote, Walter Cave married Alice Williams, the daughter of Thomas Williams of the Star Inn in Cornmarket in St Michael’s parish.

(There is a Walter Cave, described as “chief butler of Exeter College”, who had two children, Thomas and Mary, baptised at St Ebbe’s Church on 1 June 1634 and buried there the next day, but it seems unlikely that this is the same person. This Walter Cave had a sister, Elizabeth, buried at St Ebbe’s Church on 20 November 1634.)

Walter and Alice Cave had two children, always described respectively as the eldest and second son of Walter Cave:

  • James Cave (mentioned in will)
  • Walter Cave (baptised on 23 April 1635 at St Michael-at-the-Northgate Church).

Walter's wife Alice Cave was buried at St Michael-at-the-Northgate Church on 23 August 1635, exactly four months after the baptism of Walter junior.

On 20 December 1638 Walter Cave was admitted to brew by the University, moving to the brewing area in Grandpont. His house was on the west side of St Aldate’s Street, to the south of the present Speedwell Street.

On 13 September 1639, when he was 37 years old, Walter Cave was admitted free by the City, paying the officers’ fees of five shillings. On that same day the Mayor (fellow brewer Thomas Smith) asked that he might request a Bailiff’s place for Cave in lieu of bringing in a son. On 17 September 1639, just four days after gaining his freedom, Cave was duly elected senior bailiff.

Anthony Wood records that Walter Cave married a second wife, Elizabeth Clemson of Abingdon (also known as Jane or Joan). She was the daughter of Thomas and Katherine Clemson, baptised at St Helen’s Church in Abingdon on 4 September 1606. Cave’s second marriage must have taken place in the late 1630s, around the time he came on to the council. He and Elizabeth appear to have had the following children (who were probably baptised at St Aldate’s, but all the registers for that church prior to 1678 are missing):

  • Thomas Cave (mentioned in will)
  • William Cave (mentioned in will)
  • Henry Cave (buried 9 September 1657 at St Aldate’s, described as “son of Walter Cave Esq”)
  • Sarah Cave (married Thomas Fifield before 1663)
  • Joan Cave (married Matthew Treadwell)
  • Elizabeth Cave (mentioned in will)
  • Jane Cave (remained single, buried at St Aldate’s on 9 November 1672, described as “daughter of Mr Walter ye Elder”)
  • Clemson Cave (mentioned in will)
  • Richard Cave (mentioned in will)
  • John Cave
  • Abraham Cave.

In September 1642 Cave was appointed one of the Keykeepers. In October that year he contributed £5 of his personal money towards a collection of money to be presented to King Charles I after the Battle of Edgehill.

On 14 June 1645 Walter’s brother, Sir Richard Cave, was killed at the Battle of Naseby.

On 19 February 1647 Cave’s “late servant”, Thomas Wilkinson, was admitted free.

Walter Cave then moved to the higher council posts (helped by a purge by Parliament of those council members who favoured the King), and on 8 August 1648 he was elected one of the Mayor’s eight Assistants in place of Leonard Bowman.

Two years later, on 16 September 1650, Walter Cave was elected Mayor of Oxford (for 1650/1), and selected William Bayly junior, son of William Bayly senior, to have a bailiff’s place as his Child. After his term of office he held the post of Assistant and Keykeeper again.

On 12 October 1655 Balliol College granted a lease to Walter Cave, “beerbrewer” of a messuage at the North West corner of the tenement that was known as the “Cardinal’s Hat”, which was on the site of the present college, for 15 years for a rent of £4 and two capons. This messuage measured 22ft 6in on the west side, and 37 ft on the east side, with Widow Perfect to the south and Edmund Gayton to the north. In 1658 the lease was renewed to him for 35 years without paying any fine, in the hope that he would rebuild the tenement, which was in poor repair. Eventually, a Mrs Cave (his daughter-in-law?) sold the remaining part of the lease in 1675.

In March 1658 Walter Cave paid the council a shilling for a licence to continue the standing of a post to support his house at Carfax. This is probably the corner house at the junction of Cornmarket and the High Street.

On 26 October 1659 Cave was one of the group selected to present letters of congratulation to the Lord Protector.

On 17 September 1660 Leonard Bowman was restored to his position as Assistant, but Cave, because of the respect due to him from the city, was allowed to continue to wear his scarlet gown and take his place in the Council Chamber and at church and at all other public functions according to the seniority that he would have enjoyed had he still been an Assistant.

On 11 April 1661 Thomas Cave, described as the “eldest son of Walter Cave, gent.”, was admitted free.

In August 1661 Cave went out with the Mayor and senior councillors in his scarlet gown with footclothes and footmen to meet King Charles II on his visit to the city.

† Walter Cave died on 21 February 1662/3, and was buried at St Aldate’s Church two days later. Anthony Wood used the occasion to provide a potted family history in his diary:

Walter Cave of Grandpoole in the south suburbs of Oxon, brewer, brother to Sir Richard Cave, knight, died at his house in Grandpoole, S., 21 Febr. 1662, and was buried in S. Aldate’s church. He married his first wife, Alice, daughter of Thomas Williams of the Star Inn in Oxon; and to his second, Elizabeth, the daughter of [Thomas] Clemson of Abendon; by both which he had issue.

He left legacies in his will to seven of his children (James, Walter, Thomas, William, Clemson, Richard, John, Abraham, and Elizabeth) and to his sons-in-law Abraham Davis, Matthew Treadwell, and Thomas Aylfield.

Cave’s second wife Elizabeth Cave was paying tax on nine hearths in 1665. In 1667 she was described as “relict of a gent.” when she paid 7s. 8d. in poll tax for herself and a shilling for five of her children (Elizabeth, Jane, Clemson, John, and Abraham). She died the following year, and was buried at St Aldate’s Church on 21 November 1668.


Walter Cave junior, Cave’s son

Walter Cave junior was baptised at St Michael-at-the-Northgate Church on 23 April 1635. Described as the “second son of Walter Cave, gent.”, he was granted his freedom on 6 August 1666 (paying the fee of 9s. 6d.), with the proviso that it was to be remembered that this kindness was done for his father’s sake. (He had been born before his father was made free in 1639, which made him ineligible for his freedom by descent.)

On 12 October 1665 Balliol granted a lease to Walter Cave, “beerbrewer” of a messuage at the north-west corner of their present college, measure 22 ft. 6 in. on the west side, and 37 ft on the east side for 15 years, with a rent of £4 and two capons.

In 1667 Walter Cave junior, with a wife and three children, was paying five shillings poll tax in St Aldate’s, but it looks as though his wife died the next year, as Elizabeth Cave, “wife of Mr Walter” was buried at St Aldate’s on 21 November 1668.

On 8 November 1670 at St Aldate's Church, Walter Cave junior married his second wife, the widow Mrs Ann Turton, and they had at least four children:

  • Anne Cave (baptised on 26 August 1671 at All Saints’ Church)
  • Katherine Cave (baptised on 1 November 1672 at All Saints’ Church)
  • Jane Cave (baptised on 24 February 1673/4 at All Saints’ Church)
  • Richard Cave (baptised on 11 June 1675 at All Saints’ Church).

Walter Cave junior was probably dead by 1 May 1703, when Balliol College leased his former property to someone new.


See also:

  • PCC Will PROB 11/311/294 (Will of Walter Cave, Gentleman of Oxford, proved 2 June 1663)
  • Strangers in Oxford, pp. 150–152
  • For Cave’s ancestry, see thepeerage.com

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 29 September, 2018

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