Oxford History: Mayors & Lord Mayors


John Knibb II (1689–1754)

Mayor of Oxford 1733/4 and 1747/8

John Knibb junior was born at Holywell Street in Oxford and baptised at St Cross Church on 8 September 1689. He was the fifth child and eldest son of the clockmaker John Knibb (who himself was Mayor in 1698 and 1710).

John became an Oxford upholsterer, who took on William Restall as his apprentice in 1719 and John Feild in 1726.

In August 1719 John Knibb junior was granted a new 40-year lease of tenements and malthouse in Broken Heyes for a fine of £7, and waste ground at Gloucester Green was added to the premises.

On 5 September 1718 the Mayor, Henry Wise, proposed that John Knibb should have a Chamberlain’s place. In September 1725 Knibb was chosen Senior Bailiff, and in September 1732 he was elected Mayor’s Assistant. Thomas Hearne tells how “My Lord Abbington came in a coach and six from Rycot that morning, on purpose to hinder him being elected”, and put up Thomas Lawrence in opposition; but this ploy failed, as Knibb got 49 votes to Lawrence’s 31. Hearne observes, “’Tis observable that formerly such a Bustle never used to be made in the election of assistants.”

On 1 October 1733 John Knibb junior was chosen as Mayor of Oxford for the first time (for 1733/4). He chose William Carter as his Chamberlain.

In February 1740 Knibb was made an Alderman.

On 30 September 1747 Knibb was elected Mayor a second time (for 1747/50), and chose John Turner as his Chamberlain and Richard Bew as his Child. At the end of his period of office, he requested for leave to fish the City waters, which was granted according to custom.

His wife Deborah Knibb died on 8 August 1751 and was buried at St Cross Church four days later.

John Knibb himself died on 14 February 1754 and was buried at St Cross Church on the 17th. Jackson’s Oxford Journal announced that his house in George Lane and another “near the printing-house” (the present Clarendon Building in Broad Street) would be sold later. This latter house is believed to be 34 Broad Street, on the corner of Catte Street and Holywell, which later became a coffee house and was demolished to make way for the Indian Institute.

After Knibb’s death a memorial stone tablet (below) dedicated to his parents, his four sisters who died in childhood, his brother Joseph’s wife, and finally to himself and his wife Deborah, was placed on the north wall of the aisle:

Knibb memorial

Near this Place Lyeth Interrd the
Daughters of IOHN & ELIZ: KNIBB
of this Parish.
, HANNAH, Jane, & MARY
as also
Died Iuly 22. 1722 Aged 72.
ELIZ. the Wife of Joseph KNIBB
who Died Dec. 5 1726 aged 24

Mrs ELIZTH: KNIBB Wife of the above
Aldern: KNIBB died Decr: 23 1740.

JOHN KNIBB Jnr: Ald’n of this CITY
died Feb: 14th 1754.

Also DEBH: his Wife died [Aug] 8th 1751

See also:

  • John Knibb I, his father, Mayor of Oxford in 1698/9 and 1710/11
  • Knibb one-name study by Alan Jackson, including this family
  • Malcolm Graham, Oxford City Apprentices 1697–1800, entries numbered 1028 and 1341
  • C. F. C. Beeson, Clockmaking in Oxfordshire 1400–1850 (Oxford: Museum of the History of Science, 1989)
  • MS Wills Oxon Ren. 303/2/14

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 18 September, 2018

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