John PILLINGER (1792/3–1868)
His wife Martha PILLINGER, née Salmoni (c.1800–1876)
St Mary Magdalen section: Row 5a, Grave D65

John Pillinger's grave



John Pillinger was born in Oxford in 1792/3.

Martha Salmoni was born in Oxford in 1800/1, the eldest daughter of Mark Salmoni of St Aldate's parish and Martha Simmons of St Peter-in-the-East parish when they were married at St Andrew’s Church in Headington on 26 February 1799. Mark Salmoni was a barometer and thermometer dealer of St Clement’s Street, Oxford, and many examples of his work can be found via this Google search. Despite being so talented, however, he signed his name with a cross both at his own wedding and as a witness at his daughter’s, indicating that he was unable to read and write.

The Salmonis had at least two other daughters: Lucy Salmoni (who married William Rouse in 1826) and Mary Ann Salmoni (who married John Jones in 1838): both were married at St Clement’s Church.

On 31 March 1822 at St Giles’s Church, Oxford, John Pillinger married Martha Salmoni, and the following short announcement appeared in Jackson’s Oxford Journal on 6 April 1822: “On Sunday last was married, at St. Giles’s Church, in this city, Mr. J. Pillinger to Martha, eldest daughter of Mr. Salmoni, of St. Clement’s.” They do not appear to have had any children.

Martha’s mother Martha Salmoni died at St Clement’s at the age of 57 in 1832 and was buried at St Peter-in-the-East churchyard on 21 October. Just six months later, on 9 May 1833 at St Clement’s Church, her father Mark Salmoni married his second wife Miss Anne Mary Winifrede Roper, who was about thirty years his junior.

In 1832 Dr Buckland proposed an arrangement for opening the mineral and geological specimens at the Clarendon Building, and John Pillinger was engaged at £50 a year for various duties, including general care of the rooms and attending at the Clarendon Museum from 1pm to 4pm on three days a week, to show the collections to visitors, and to work at fitting up cabinets and labelling and arranging collections under the orders of the Professor. He also had to answer the bell and collect sixpence from each visitor.

At the time of the 1841 census John Pillinger, described as a servant, was living in Broad Street with his wife Martha and his niece Ellen Pillinger (15), whom they brought up as their daughter, although she is described in this census as their servant. Born in Reading, she was the daughter of Robert Pillinger, who was presumably John's brother.

Martha’s father Mark Salmoni died later that year: the announcement in Jackson’s Oxford Journal on 17 July 1841 read: “DIED. On Monday last, after a long and painful illness, aged 70, Mr. Mark Salmoni, an old and much-respected inhabitant of St Clement’s.”

In October 1844 an election for an Inferior Bedel of Law took place in a special Convocation, but John Pillinger narrowly failed to gain the position, coming second out of seven candidates. He was however on 1 March 1848 elected Yeoman (or Inferior) Bedel of Divinity, which was a more senior post. His address was given as Parks Road when he was matriculated at the University of Oxford as a privileged person on 4 March 1848.

Bedel with stave


The University of Oxford then had four Yeomen (or Inferior) Bedels (compared to six today): they were in order of importance Divinity, Law, Medicine, and Arts, and their tasks included acting as attendants to the Vice-Chancellor, and opening Convocation meetings with the words “Intretis in Convocationem, Magistri, intretis.” There were also three Esquire Bedels until the office was abolished in 1856 (although George Valentine Cox, Esquire Bedel in Medicine & Arts, was allowed to continue in the position until he retired in 1866, and his successor William Waters Harrison remained Esquire Bedel in Law until the 1880s). Cox wrote in 1868, “Of the Yeomen Bedels, in my long experience, I have little to say; they have been truly respectable men, though none of them more so than the present trio, Messrs. Pillinger, Harper, and Haines.”

Pillinger, as Yeoman Bedel of Divinity, would have had to conduct each University Preacher from his college or society on Sundays to St Mary-the-Virgin Church.

Right: One of the University Bedels in attendance on the Vice-Chancellor at the St Giles’s Remembrance Service in 2006, showing the type of stave Pillinger would have carried. Unlike the city’s great mace, which is much heavier and borne on the shoulder, it is is carried in the crook of the arm.

At the time of the 1851 census John Pillinger (58) was living at 2 Parks Road (then known as Park Street) with his wife Martha (50) and one servant. Their niece Ellen Pillinger (25) still lived with them, but was married the following year:

  • On 22 April 1852 at St Mary Magdalen Church, Oxford, Ellen Pillinger (26) married John Haines (30). Ellen's father Robert Pillinger was then described as a Keeper of the Baths (possibly in Reading) while John, who was the son of John Haines senior, a bookseller of St Michael’s parish, was a yeoman bedel who would have worked with her uncle.

At the time of the 1861 census John and Martha Pillinger were living alone with one servant at 2 Parks Road, opposite Wadham College.

The niece they had brought up as their own daughter, Mrs Ellen Haines née Pillinger, had four children and died in 1863: see the separate grave of Ellen and her husband John Haines for more information.

John Pillinger fell ill in 1867, and on 5 May that year the Revd Robert Stephen Hawker wrote in a letter to his publisher: “I am very sorry indeed for poor Pillinger. I lodged in his house in 1845 just opposite Wadham.” On 13 June 1867 it was agreed in Convocation that “a pension of 80l. a year be paid to John Pillinger, Inferior Bedel of Divinity, during his life, dating from Midsummer next.” Pillinger died in Oxford the following January:

† John Pillinger died at 2 Parks Road at the age of 75 on 21 January 1868 and was buried at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery on 27 January (burial recorded in the parish register of St Mary Magdalen Church).

His death notice in Jackson’s Oxford Journal on 25 January 1868 read: “Jan. 21, after a long and painful illness, much respected, Mr. John Pillinger, of 2, Park-street, in his 76th year.” His effects came to nearly £450.

On 12 June 1868 Convocation agreed that “a pension of 15l. per annum be granted to the widow of the late Bedel, John Pillinger, for the term of her life”, and at the time of the 1871 census Mrs Pillinger (70) duly described herself as an annuitant. She was then living alone with one servant at 2 Parks Road.

Mrs Martha Pillinger died there in 1876:

† Mrs Martha Pillinger née Salmoni died at 2 Parks Road at the age of 76 on 5 December 1876 and was buried at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery on 9 December (burial recorded in the parish register of St Mary Magdalen Church).

Her effects came to nearly £1,000.

In Jackson’s Oxford Journal on 27 January 1877 the Trustees under John Pillinger’s will advertised a forthcoming auction of the property that he had owned in Oxford, including 95 and 96 Great Clarendon Street and 25 and 26 Union Street in Jericho, which he let out. His own house at 2 Parks Road was described as follows:

All that desirable compact FAMILY RESIDENCE, known as No. 2, Park-street, Oxford, containing entrance hall, sitting room, large cupboards and w.c. on ground floor, large drawing room and small bed room on first floor; and five good bed rooms, with numerous cupboards, over the same; with kitchen, scullery, coal cellar, and larder in the basement, late in the occupation of Mrs. Pillinger, deceased.

The above-described valuable Freehold, situate within a minute’s walk of the Schools and principal University Buildings, is admirably adapted either for a Family Residence or for Business Premises, into which it might easily be converted. Immediate possession may be had of this lot.



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