Oxford History: Mayors & Lord Mayors


Thomas Wise 1707–1772)

Mayor of Oxford 1746/7

Thomas Wise

Thomas Wise was born in Oxford on 4 November 1706 and baptised at St Michael-at-the-Northgate Church on 24 November. He was the son of Henry Wise and his first wife Mary Trollopp, who were married at St Aldate's Church on 29 April 1697. For more details about his parents and siblings, see the biography of his father, who was himself three times Mayor of Oxford.

In January 1722/3, Thomas was apprenticed as a mercer to his father.

In September 1738 Thomas Wise was chosen Mayor’s Child by the new Mayor, William Ives

On 3 September 1738 Wise was admitted free, and he later had his own mercer’s shop in Cornmarket.

In 1739 he was appointed a cloth-searcher; and in September 1741 he was elected Senior Bailiff.

Thomas's father Henry Wise died on 9 October 1741.

At some point Thomas Wise married a woman called Deborah, but the marriage has not been found. They do not appear to have had any children.

In July 1746 Wise was chosen as one of the eight Assistants, and in September that year he was elected Mayor of Oxford (for 1746/7), selecting John Phillips as his Child and William Cherry as his Chamberlain.

On 3 October 1755 Wise was elected an Alderman.

By 1758 Wise had moved from his Cornmarket shop: Jackson’s Oxford Journal reports that a Mrs Fowler had moved into his house in Cornmarket that year, and in 1760 that Henry Smith, mercer (former apprentice of John Austin, another Mayor) had opened at the shop in Cornmarket that was formerly kept by Alderman Wise.

On 20 September 1762 Thomas Wise was elected Mayor again, but refused to accept the office, paying the City Treasurer £50 as a fine for not serving.

In 1766 the City got into such debt that the council tried to sell its two parliamentary seats. As a result, the Mayor and ten councillors (including Alderman Wise) were committed to Newgate Prison in London for four days; they were discharged with a reprimand from the Speaker of the House of Commons on 10 February 1768.

Wise’s widowed sister, Mrs Elizabeth Lowe of Headington Hill, died on 2 October 1766.

In 1771, Thomas Wise was again chosen Mayor, but again refused, paying another fine of £50.

By 1772 Thomas Wise was living in a house in New Inn Hall Street. In that year a survey of every house in the city was taken in consequence of the Mileways Act of 1771, and according to H. E. Salter, the house of Alderman Wise, which had a frontage of 43 yards, 0 ft. and 10 in., occpied the site of the present 42, 44, 46, 48, and 50 New Inn Hall Street; and he also had a “garden, &c” on the site of 21 New Inn Hall Street, with a frontage of 12 yards, 2 ft. and 6 in.

Thomas Wise died in August 1772 at the age of 65. The plaque below says that he died on 13 August, but as he is recorded as having been buried inside the St Peter-in-the-East Church on 29 August, one of these dates may be wrong. He left all his estate to his wife Deborah.

His widow Deborah Wise died on 24 April 1777 at the age of 63 at her house in New Inn Hall Street and was buried with him on 1 May.

Although they did not live in St Peter-in-the-East parish, they were buried inside that church with other members of Thomas Wise's family. There are two plaques on the wall of that church in memory of his family.

Inscriptions to Wise family

(1) Thomas Wise's parents and siblings

Iuxta deponantur Reliquiae
huius Civitatis Aldermanni
Obiit Die 9o Octobris 1741
Aetatis suae 76.

Iuxta quoque requiescit Maria
Uxor eius, quae obiit Ian: 19o
1752, Aetatis suae 76.

Necnon Iohannes Henrici et Mariae Fius, qui ob; 14o
Novembris 1728, Aet. sua 28.

In eodem etiam Sepulchro
Sita est ELIZ: LOWE
Hen: et Mar: Filia
Obiit Oct: 2, 1766

[Nearby are deposited the remains of HENRY WISE, Alderman of this city, who died on 9 October 1741, aged 76.

Also nearby rests Mary his wife, who died on 19 January 1753, aged 76.

Also John the son of Henry and Mary who died on 14 November 1728, aged 28.

ELIZABETH LOWE, the daughter of Henry and Mary, who died 2 October 1766, was placed in the same tomb.]


(2) Thomas Wise and his wife Deborah

In Sepulchro haud procul abhinc
remoto, deponuntur Reliquiae
Hujus Civitatis Aldermanni
Henrici et Mariae Filii
Obiit Aug: 13. 1772
In eodem etiam Tumulo
Quicquid erat mortale deposuit
uxor ejus Dilectissima
Apr: 24. 1777

[In a tomb not far removed rom here are laid the remains of Thomas Wise, Alderman of this city and son of Henry and Maria, who died on 13 August 1772. In the same tomb DEBORAH, his most beloved wife, has laid down her mortal remains. Apr: 24. 1777.]

See also:

  • Portrait of Alderman Thomas Wise dated 1738 in the Council Chamber of the Town Hall.
    The name “Thomas Wise” is incribed on the paper in the portrait
    Download information about Council Chamber portraits
  • Henry Wise, Mayor in 1711/12, 1718/19, and 1730/1 (his father)
  • Richard Wise, Mayor in 1716
  • Malcolm Graham, Oxford City Apprentices 1697–1800, entry numbered 1152
  • PCC Will PROB 11/982/61 (Will of Thomas Wise, Gentleman of Oxford, proved 13 October 1772)

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 3 January, 2021

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