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Originally 90 acres, the farm was increased by small purchases in Mawson's time to 134, part of the newly-acquired land belonging to the Higdon and part to the Metham manor, to the lords of which a free rent was paid.

The dwelling house was erected by Richard Mawson in 1714, and his initials R.M. with the date are affixed to the northern wall. Eland's Farm, so called after the late proprietor, was comprised of fields dotted about in the extreme north and west of the township a considerable distance from the homestead, which stands next to that of Johnson, and is now occupied by the schoolmaster.

The land which was parcel partly of the Higdon and partly of the Metham manor was put together as follows:

It originally belonged to the Higdons, and in 1668 Laurence Higdon sold 50 acres to John Athorp. From the Athorpes the land passed to the Gills, who in 1764 sold it to Mr. Thomas Rhodes, who conveyed it in 1794 to Simon Jewit, 64 who sold it the following year to William Nottingham of Newton.

42 acres were sold by the Higdons to the Sugdens of Howden, who in 1743 conveyed them to Barnard Clarkson of Foggathorpe, whose son and heir, Michael Clarkson, sold them in 1746 to John Nottingham of Laytham, father of the above mentioned William Nottingham, whose brother and heir Thomas died in 1838, leaving his estate to his daughter Ann, wife of George Eland. Ann Eland conveyed it to Mr. Saltmarshe in 1854.

The Nottinghams also bought 12 acres from Robert Mawson, which with smaller purchases made up the 127 acres it consisted of at that date. 34

The present owner broke up the farm when he re-arranged the land in the township.

Popple's Farm, called after its late tenant, was the old Metham manor farm, and its descent has already been given on page 163.

It was sold by the Corporation of York to Mr. Saltmarshe in 1837, and at that date consisted of 215 acres split up originally into three holdings which were let in 1649, when the Methams sold it, to three separate tenants.

The land was as usual scattered all over the township, some 30 acres only lying in the south fields in proximity to the farm house which stood in the middle of the village by the blacksmith's shop. It has since been broken up and the land distributed among the manor, Johnson's, and north side farms.

Hill's Farm, so called after its late owner. I cannot find the early origin of much of this farm which latterly consisted of 113 acres, 88 of which were in different parts of Laxton, and 25 in Cotness.

64 The Jewits, Rhodes, and Gills, were also Saltmarshe families.

The latter belonged to that manor and were bought by Benjamin Hill from Mary Wells in 1786, the Wells purchased them with other property from the Tomlyns in 1679, who bought them from George Metham in 1649.

With regard to the land in Laxton 43 acres belonged early in the 18th century to Peter Tune of Howden, who sold them to Simon Gildesdale in 1756, Mr. Philip Scholfield 65 purchased them from the latter and sold them in 1786 to Mr. Benjamin Hill.

The Hills, who came originally from Crowle in the Isle of Ax-. holme, owned the estate for over 100 years; they held a prominent position in the village and seem to have had an almost hereditary tenure of the overseerships of the poor. The late Mr. Hill, though a leading member of the Wesleyan congregation, was also for many years one of the churchwardens.

The Hills gradually increased the farm to 113 acres, and it was bought by Mr. Saltmarshe in 1898 from their representatives.

The above were the six principal farms into which the township was divided before 1855, on which date the present proprietor had acquired the whole of it, with the exception of Hill's property and a few houses and crofts in the village.

With the exception perhaps of those belonging to the Manor Farm, the fields of the different tenants were seldom together, and Mr. Saltmarshe at once set about rectifying this. Breaking up Bowser's, Eland's, and Popple's farms, and forming a new one in the north of the township, he arranged that each man should have his holding as compact as possible, redistributing the land as follows:

1. The Manor Farm, now 426 acres.

2. The Old Hall (Johnson's) Farm, 163 acres.

3. Hill's Farm (including 25 acres in Cotness), 113 acres. 4. North Side Farm, 172 acres,

Also several small holdings, together about 80 acres.

Though we have some record of the township being well wooded in the 14th century, the existing plantations, 53 acres in extent, have all been laid down during the last 50 years.


On the 6th March, 1267, Walter, Archbishop of York, with the consent of the Prior and Convent of Durham, established five prebends in Howden Church, the fourth being that of Laxton and Skelton, which was endowed with the tithes of hay, wool, and lamb of the towns of Laxton, Skelton, and Gresby. To this prebend

65 Son of Philip Scholfield, second son of John Scholfield, of Sandhall. 66 Refer page 165.

belonged also the small tithes of Saltmarshe.67

in 1835 was £15 13s. 4d.

The annual value

The list of prebendaries is given in Hutchinson's Durham, 67 and is of no particular interest, the only local man being Richard Portington, who held office 1463-1491.

The Collegiate Church of Howden was dissolved in 1547, and the ecclesiastical rights or tithes passed to the Crown.

They were sold in the reign of James I. to Francis Morice and Francis Phillips, from whom they passed about 1650 to the Sandys, and in 1670 were owned by Sir Francis Sandys of Scrooby, son and heir of Sir Martin Sandys, and great grandson of the Archbishop of that name. 67

By indenture, dated 18th Oct., 1707, they were included in the settlement of marriage between Mary Sandys, daughter and heiress of above Sir Francis, and John Stapylton, son and heir of Sir Bryan Stapylton, of Myton,68 and by indenture of 9th April, 1774, were sold by Sir Miles Stapylton, son of the said John, to William Sotheron, of Hook, and his eldest son, William, who died in 1782.

William Sotheron, son of the latter, died without issue, leaving his property to his brother, Admiral Frank Sotheron, 69 who, by conveyances too numerous to specify here, sold the Laxton tithes to the different landowners between 1808 and 1830.34

Their capitalised value at this time was from £7 to £8 an acre, and upwards of 60co was paid by the different proprietors to redeem it.70 The whole of the township is now tithe-free.


Much interest has lately been shown in field names, and the Society has printed three able papers on the subject.71 I need hardly, therefore, apologise for devoting a page or two to those of Laxton, which, owing to changes in the 17th century, are very


The following is a fairly complete list of fields, past and present, omitting those called merely after the number of acres they contain.

The small tithes, or

67 Hutchinson's Durham, Vol. III. p. 453, et seq. "tithes of agistment" were in respect of barren and unprofitable cattle.

68 Second son of Sir Robert Stapylton, of Wighill, a younger branch of the Stapyltons of Carlton, now represented by Lady Beaumont.

69 Mr. Sotheron Estcourt, who holds considerable property in the district is the representative of this family.

70 The tithe on the farm of 215 acres, belonging to the Corporation of York

cost £1570 to redeem, and that on Johnson's farm of 127 acres, £900.

71 By the Rev. M. C. Morris, Vol. I., p. 59, and Vol. VI., p. 1, and by the Rev. E. Maule Cole, Vol. VI., p. 19.' I am very much indebted to Mr. Morris for the assistance he has given me on the subject.

The date at which they first appear is given in the case of some of

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The first 15 enclosures were named after their owners in the 16th and 17th centuries, with the exception of Tommy Kay close, which is of later date, and Skerne close, which is of earlier origin. The next 12 names speak for themselves.

Then we have 6 fields suggestive of animal life, two called after the birds which frequented them and four the feeding-grounds of the villagers' cattle, &c." Hill" in a flat country simply means an enclosure.

We now come to a group of 19 names of miscellaneous origin, the derivation of which can be given with more or less certainty. "Marling field "71a is modern, and points to the locale of a marl pit. "Short Butts was either the village archery ground or is derived in a less interesting but perhaps more common way as being land abutting on something, in this case the green lane. "Holmes was land surrounded by water or marsh, and is of Danish origin.

"Busks "

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are bushes, generally thorn.

Ings," from the Danish Engs, are low-lying meadows near water or marsh, very applicable to Laxton in early days.

The "Pinfold" was the inclosure for strange or straying cattle, where the Pinders looked after them.

"Sand field" is of very ancient origin, so called from a spit of sand running through the district, which would be part of the ground under cultivation at the Domesday survey.

"Flats" are level, low-lying lands.

"Eller" is Old English for Alder.

"Brick garth" is modern, being the site of a brick field.

"Moor flat" suggests the condition of this part of the township in ancient days.

"Thwaites' are lands once covered by wood.72

same as the Scotch muckle, means great.

"Mickle," the

"Furlong"-furrow long-was a piece of uninclosed ground that


"Hall garth" marks the site of the ancient hall.

"Willow Field" would be marshy land, where in ancient times willows were grown.

"Lea" may simply mean meadow, or the close may have been called after a villager named Lee resident in Laxton in the 17th century.


The origin of the next 23 names must be more or less conjecture. Thorpe" is the same as the Saxon and German "Dorp," a village, but what "Penny" signifies it is difficult to say. Were the country not so flat one's thoughts might turn to "Pen," the Celtic for hill, i.e., a village on a hill. It may, perhaps, have something to do with rent or "Peter's pence."

"Cadcroft," or as it also appears "Tadcroft," may be derived from the Old English "Cade," a pet lamb from Danish "Kaad," frolicsome;78 or "Tade," Anglo-Saxon for toad; or again, from "Cad," Old English for little pig.72 Though occasionally spelt "Catcroft," I hardly think it has anything to do with "pussy."

71a I have, since writing above, ascertained that the probable derivation is "Merlin." 72 Halliwell's Dictionary of Archaic and Provincial words. 73 Wedgewood's Dictionary of Etymology.

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