TAYLOR, Roger (d.1578), of Oxford.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer




Family and Education

m. Elizabeth, at least 3da.

Offices Held

Chamberlain, Oxford 1552-3, bailiff 1553-4, mayor 1563-4, 1569-70, 1574-5.


A member of the Oxford corporation for over 20 years, Taylor’s name appears regularly in the town records. There is no definite statement as to his trade or profession, but he owned a brewhouse, and possibly made his living as an inn-keeper. He was evidently wealthy, with a large amount of property in Oxford and the surrounding district: his will mentions his house in the parish of St. Peter’s, land in Kidlington near Woodstock and the ‘farm and grounds of Walton’, which he held from St. John’s College. He also owned a number of houses at St. Mary Magdalene in the suburbs of Oxford. Outside Oxfordshire his only known property was at Maidenhead.

The first reference found to Taylor is his assessment—on £7 in goods—for the 1543 subsidy. Between that date and 1558 he filled various minor offices on the city council; in October 1554 he was in London pursuing a suit about corporation lands. He continued to hold office throughout the religious changes of the period, and soon after Elizabeth’s accession was elected one of the eight assistants to the mayor. A new corporation order of September 1562 limited these ‘assistants’ to four aldermen, with certain other ‘ancient persons’ including Taylor; but this body soon began to co-opt more ‘very sad, discreet and ancient persons’ as associates, and the limitation of numbers seems to have been ineffective. Another decree of the same month, in which Taylor is styled ‘alderman’, nominated him as one of six to represent the city in negotiations with ‘Mr. Owen’—probably the Richard Owen who some years later sold lands to St. John’s College.

In May 1575, during Taylor’s last mayoralty, the longstanding quarrel between city and university became so acute that, following a Star Chamber suit, he and other members of the corporation came before the Privy Council to put their case against Dr. Humfrey, vice-chancellor of the university. The questions discussed ranged from the corporation’s obligation to hold a sermon at communion service to commemorate those killed in an earlier riot in Oxford, to the university’s exemption from the liability of providing post-horses. Taylor was involved in another local dispute when bailiff William Noble accused him and other city officials of letting offenders go unconvicted or unpunished, and of allowing dicing and other offenses.

Very few later references to Taylor have been found: the last mention of him as an alderman is in July 1577. He died between March and November the following year, leaving a will dividing his property into three parts—to his wife Elizabeth, to his three daughters, and to charitable uses. The only other relatives mentioned were a brother and sister ‘in the north country’. Following a dispute about the value of the property, the prerogative court of Canterbury confirmed the will by sentence.

W. H. Turner, Oxford Recs. 212, 221, 222, 277, 294-5, 305, 331, 356, 394; Oriel Coll. Recs. ed. Shadwell and Salter (Oxf. Hist. Soc. lxxxv), 325; Early Hist. St. John’s, ed. Stevenson and Salter (Oxf. Hist. Soc. n.s.i), 530; Surveys and Tokens, ed. Salter (Oxf. Hist. Soc. lxxv), 142, 152; APC, viii. 376; CSP Dom. Add. 1566-79, p. 483; PCC 42 Langley.

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: N. M. Fuidge