Hertfordshire Genealogy



Thomas Oakley, St Albans, 19th century

August, 2012



St Albans

Stanville Football Club 1897/8 - See Some small St Albans Football Clubs

Thomas Oakley, Mayor of St Albans, Herts, 1897-8, from St Albans Museum collectionMaureen Corcoran nee Oakley (maureen @t  cor8.freeserve.co.uk) of Kettering, Northants. writes: I believe in answer to your question of who the well to do person with the cigar is in the above photo, that it is Thomas Oakley who was the Mayor of St Albans in 1897.  As an eminent figure of St Albans, Thomas would have supported local organisations, albeit not in his official capacity. I am not sure how to attach a photo to this message but if you google his name I think you will recognise this gentleman in the pictures held by the St Albans Museums.

I am sure you are right. The museum has several portraits of him and it seems very likely that as major local business man and mayor he would have taken an interest in such activities. His name occurs in my St Albans newspaper index on a number of occasions - mainly as in lists of names of supporters of one local cause or another. For instance in 1882 he made a donation to the cricket pavilion fund and and in 1889 he was one of a number of prominent people listed as attending a conversazionne held by the St Albans School of Music in the Public Library in Victoria Street. He appears to have made his shop's horse-drawn vans available to good causes as the following appeared in the Herts Advertiser of 1st July, 1893:

C.E.T.S. Christ Church Juvenile Branch. On Tuesday afternoon the children and friends of this Band of Hope terminated the season by an outing to Redbourn, through the kind arrangements of Mr Charles Harvey. The party travelled by road in conveyances kindly lent by Mr H Aldridge, Mr A J O Gray, Mr T Oakley and Mr D. Pike. About 100 children sat down to tea in the Village Club-room The children were accompanied by the Misses Hasell, Craig, Garner, and Innes, and Messrs Garner, Rogers and E W Rogers.

Because of his role in the city it is perhaps relevant to provide some brief biographical information.

Thomas Oakley was born in St Albans in 1843 and was probably the son of George Oakley, who in 1851 was a "Baker" in Holywell Hill. If so he was one of a large family - and George had changed his occupation to "Turnkey at the Goal" in 1861 and "Naturalist" in 1881. If this was the right family Thomas was a "Musician" in 1861.

What is certain is that in 1871 Thomas was a grocer in Holywell Hill (next door to the Two Brewers public house) with a wife, Ann, and 4 year old daughter Blanche. It was obviously not a small business as there was a resident shopman, a shopman's apprentice, and a porter. 

By 1881 he was a widower, with a sister as housekeeper and three grocers assistants and a grocers clerk. Blanche was at a boarding school in Bedford run by a widow called Phoebe Gilbert, whose daughters acted as teachers. The following year Thomas married one of the daughters, Maria Gilbert and by the 1891 census they has had son, Thomas Gilbert Oakley. He was still living at the shop in 15 Holywell Hill, with his sister as housekeeper, two grocers assistants and an apprentice.


Thomas Oakley, Provision Merchant, Holywell Hill, St Albans, Herts

The City of St Albans (1902 Guidebook)

In 1894 Thomas Oakley was elected onto the St Albans City Council (see list) for three years.  and the following year the trade directory  recorded "Thomas Oakley (established nearly a century) family grocer, wine, spirit & provisions merchant, St Albans supply stores, 15-16 Holywell Hill." He stood again in November 1897, and became Mayor for one year (the normal arrangement) so would have been Mayor of St Albans at the time the Stanville Football photograph was taken. He was re-elected for another three years as councillor in 1900 but did not serve on the council after 1903.  By 1901 he was living over the shop at 1 High Street, where he was described as a grocer and wine & spirit merchant. There were changes in the address and by 1911 had moved to a house in London Road, dying in 1921.The firm was still in existence, trading as Oakleys (Thomas Oakley & Co. Ltd.) at 8 St Peter's Street, St Albans, as late as 1960 and possibly later.

f you can add to the information given above tell me.

August 2012   Page created