Oxford History: Mayors & Lord Mayors


Thomas Lawrence (c.1680–1750)

Mayor of Oxford 1737/8 and 1745/6

Thomas Lawrence (or Lawrance/Larrance/Laurence/Larance/Larrancs/Learance) is likely to be the Thomas “Larrancs” (son of the glover Thomas Lawrence) who was born on 10 February 1681/2 and baptised at St Michael-at-the-Northgate Church two days later. His three siblings would then be Edward (born on 25 September and baptised at St Michael-at-the-Northgate Church on 7 October 1683); Mary (born on 5 March, baptised on 7 March 1685/6); and Jane (born on 29 April, baptised on 1 May 1688); and his mother was probably Jane Lawrence, named as the mother of Mary.

He was apprenticed to the chandler Thomas Hundson and was admitted free on 14 December 1702. He became a chandler of St Michael’s parish in Oxford, and his shop was probably in Cornmarket.

Lawrence was appointed a cloth searcher by the council on 30 September 1708, but did not come on to the common council until 1713, paying the usual fine of 3s. 4d. for not serving as Constable.

Thomas Lawrence and his first wife Mary had the following children:

  • Mary Lawrence (baptised on 13 December 1711 at St Michael-at-the-Northgate Church)
  • James Lawrence (baptised on 18 July 1715 at St Michael-at-the-Northgate Church)
  • Isaac Lawrence (baptised on 3 September 1716 at St Michael-at-the-Northgate Church)
  • Richard Lawrence (baptised on 14 November 1717 at St Michael-at-the-Northgate Church,
    died aged 19, buried inside the church on 23 September 1737).

In March 1710/11 William Collyson (who had been apprenticed to the mercer Henry Wise in January 1707/8) was transferred to Lawrence to learn the chandlery business instead. Lawrence (henceforth described as a grocer) took on three further apprentices: John Faulkner in September 1718, George Tomkins in November 1721, and Samuel Hicks in March 1725.

Lawrence’s first wife Mary died at the age of 41 and was buried inside St Michael-at-the-Northgate Church on 17 September 1722.

On 4 August 1726 at St Mary Magdalen Church Thomas Lawrence married his second wife, Anne Wilcox.

Lawrence was chosen as Mayor’s Chamberlain by Henry Wise in 1718 and was elected Senior Bailiff in 1724.

Thomas Hearne tells how when John Knibb was elected Assistant on 6 September 1732 (following the death of Timothy Bourne), “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.”

In 1735 Lawrence did eventually get an Assistant’s place, and on 30 September 1737 he started his first term as Mayor (for 1737/8), naming William Hawkes as his Child. He proposed Anthony Weston as his Chamberlain, but Weston was rejected by the Common Council.

Lawrence’s second wife Ann died at the age of 57 and was buried in St Michael-at-the-Northgate Church on 24 February 1744/5.

On 30 September 1745 Lawrence began his second term as Mayor (for 1745/6), choosing Richard Riggins as his Child and Philip Ward as his Chamberlain.

Thomas Lawrence died at the age of about 70 and was buried inside St Michael-at-the-Northgate Church on 13 June 1750.

See also:

  • Isaac Lawrence, Mayor 1759, 1768, and 1784 (his son)
  • Malcolm Graham, Oxford City Apprentices 1697–1800, entries numbered 527, 994, 1119, and 1277
  • MS Wills Oxon W. 214.29; 140/1/50

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 25 September, 2018

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