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Woody close" is possibly, but by no means certainly, suggestive of trees or bushes.
Riding close" may have been the exercising ground for horses, or the third part of a field, as in the divisions of Yorkshire.
There is no trace of a "Park" at Laxton, but I can suggest no other derivation for this field name.
"Brick hill close" is probably the site of an ancient brickyard, though we have no record of such in its locale.
"Basil" is the sharp edge of a joiner's tool, also an aromatic herb like thyme. The field is probably called after the latter.
"High, Low, and Little Cross closes" must originate from their position, being at right angles to the other fields, as in "Cross Roads," but the names are not now in use, so I cannot locate them. "Nursery" may have had to do with either young animals or young trees, the former for choice.
"Farnite" is difficult to devise. Mr. Morris suggests "far night" or "far knights," but this is somewhat far fetched; the name is an old one, as the field in question has been called Cogan closes for the last 300 years.
"Segrams" may be a mispelling for "Seggrums," an old Yorkshire word for the plant "Ragwort."
"Gravel garth" is hardly what it appears, as there is no trace of gravel in Laxton. It is probably a corruption of "Graynell," the old Metham fee in Laxton in 1416.74
"Point close was probably called after its shape, but it cannot now be located.
"Garth croft" seems tautology, but garth may signify garden
Segger holme," one of the more ancient names, is not unlikely the same as Sedgeholme," that is, a field of coarse grass surrounded by marsh or water, very suggestive of the Laxton of mediæval days.
"Teynde" is Old English for tithe and Teynde croft, also of ancient origin may have been a close, the income from which was devoted to payment of tithes, or, as Mr. Morris suggests, it may be a contraction for "The end croft."
"Little Hill close" was possibly called after a man's name, otherwise in a flat country it seems rather meaningless.
Fog close" is suggestive of a second crop of grass.
"Sand Hall close" was on the sand soil in close proximity to the old Hall, hence perhaps the name.
"Redforth" may be reed ford, a rushy field in the past. regards the etymology of the last five on the list, I can make no suggestions.
74 Ing., p. m., Sir Alexander Metham, No. 1, 4 H. V. Refer page 163.
Many Laxton families besides those connected with the manors are worthy of a passing notice.
During the 13th and 14th centuries the de Colvilles and de Birninghams were both landowners in the township.
In 1324 "Richard, son of Adam de Birmingham and Joan his wife, claimed against Matilda, widow of Geoffry de Hotham, 1 messuage and 5 acres of land in Laxton, the inheritance of said Joan as daughter and heir of John de Colville, son of Robert de Colville and Elena, daughter of Richard de Vesci, who owned them."75
The de Birninghams came from Birningham or Barningham in the North Riding, where they were living for many generations.
De Colville was doubtless a scion of the big baronial family of that name, descended from William de Colville, one of the feudal barons who took up arms against John.76 His descendants were resident in the township for over 100 years, and at the death of John Colville in 1409 his property went to the Church.77
A family called Everard was also of some note in the village at this time, and in 1318 "William Everard of Laxton" received pardon for joining the rebel Earl of Lancaster.78
In the 15th and 16th centuries the Roscelins and Arlushes were landowners, though, as far as we can ascertain, never resident. They both held considerable property in the district under the Bishops of Durham.
The former appear to have been the Fairfaxe's predecessors in the Manor of Pennythorpes, but of this there is no certain proof. The Arlushes who bought the chapel lands after the dissolution77 were a prominent Howden family, and resided at Knedlington for some generations. Nicolas Arlush was a lawyer and steward of the Laxton Manor in 1639. We do not hear of them after the 17th century.
Prominent among humbler families is that of Pinder, already alluded to. Its founder would be the pindar or impounder of stray cattle in the village in the 13th or 14th century, and from the William Pindar of the Poll Tax Roll, we have evidence of its continual residence in Laxton to the present day, an interesting example of a village family with a known ancestry dating from the 14th century which has remained in exactly the same social position for over 500 years.
75 De Banco Mich., 18 E. II., m. 246.
76 Burke's Ext. Peerage, p. 130,
77 See further, under Laxton church, page 183.
78 Patent Rolls, 12 E. II. The fine of 24 H. VI., quoted above, shows that the Everards were connected with the Hothams. Junior members of the family were living at Laxton in 1379.
Our earliest Laxton title deed is the gift of a small parcel of land by Thomas Pindar to his son in 1507. As a fair specimen of conveyancing 400 years ago, and illustrating as it does the dispersed conditions of even the smallest holding, besides containing the names of several of the larger landowners, as well as some of the fields, it is worth transcribing. Written in abbreviated Latin, the following is a translation:
"Know all present and future readers that I, Thomas Pinder, of Laxton, have given, conceded, and by my present charter confirmed to Nicolas Pinder, my son, my house in Laxton, standing between the house of Christopher Lowson on the S., and the town street on the N., and of land and I rood of pasture belonging to the said house, of which one acre lies in a certain field called Seggerholme,' between the lands of Thomas Metham, Esq.,79 W., and Thomas Lowson, 80 E.; I acre in the field called 'Middlethwaites,' between the land of Thomas Metham, E., and the heir of Sothill,81 W.; I acre in the pasture called 'Townclose,' between the land of the heirs of William Roscelin, S., and George Portington 82, N.; acre in a field called 'East Southfield,' between the land of Thomas Metham, Esq., on one side, and abutting on the fields of Saltmarshe, S., and the land of the heirs of William Roscelin, N.; I rood in the field called 'Middle Southfield,' over against the fields of Saltmarshe. S., and the field called Teyndecroft,' N.; acre in a field called Sandfield,' between the lands of Thomas Metham, Esq., W., and the heirs of William Roscelin, E.; to have and to hold the said messuage and 4 acres and I rood to the aforesaid Nicolas Pinder, &c., &c. . Witnesses, Robert Abbot of Laxton, Nicolas Grot, John Grace, Christopher Lowson, Thomas Lowson, and others. Dated at Laxton 15th Jan., 22 H. VII." (1507).
During the 16th century the name frequently crops up in deeds and conveyances, and in the court rolls which commence in 1645 it is rarely ever absent.
The Pickerings and Cogans, well-known in the village in the 17th and 18th centuries, gave their names to fields; and the descendants of the latter, as well of the Johnson's, also a 17th century name, are still with us.
Freemans, Hatfields, and Driffields have been living at Laxton for at least 200 years.
From very ancient days there has been a place of worship in the village.
An inquest was taken at Howden the 8th June 10. H. IV (1409)
79 Eldest son and heir of Sir Thomas Metham, of Metham, by Elizabeth, d. of Sir Robert Constable, of Flambro'. He married Maude, d. of Sir John Hotham.
80 Grandfather or great-uncle of William Lowson, who bought the Sothill manor 70 years later.
81 The heir of Sothill " in 1507 was Thomas Sothill, of Sothill, then a minor. See their pedigree.
82 Possibly the George Portington, younger son of Thomas Portington, of Portington and Sawcliffe. Vist. 1612.
to enable John de Skipwith and other trustees to make an alienation in mortmain* of 1 messuage, 1 toft, and 35 acres of land in Laxton, to found a chauntry in the chapel of St. John the Evangelist in Laxton for the soul of William Colville, clerk, his parents and ancestors, the messuage held of Alexander de Metham Chivaler, and the toft and land of William de Roscelin.83
Seventy years later by his will dated 25th Oct., 1481, Edward Saltmarshe, among numerous bequests of a similar nature, left 3/4 to Laxton Chapel, and the same amount to the Chaplain for divine celebration therein.
It had evidently received other endowments, for when Henry VIII. seized the chauntry land at the dissolution the property amounted to 100 acres.
The Crown sold the same to Nicholas Arlush,85 who died in 1553, siezed of 100 acres of land, arable, meadow and pasture, late parcel of the Chapel of St. John, in Laxton, and held in capite as of the Manor of East Greenwich.86 A ruined bit of the ancient chapel is still to be seen in the Church-yard.
The prebend of Laxton and Skelton has already been described. On 13th July, 1330, William de Melton (Archbishop of York), ordained a perpetual vicarage in the prebend, wherein should be a perpetual vicar, presentable by the Prior and Convent of Durham, whose stipend should consist of ten marks payable by the prebendary.
The following were the Vicars :-1330, Sir Stephen de Gribthorpe; 1349, William de Lynton; 1380, Thomas Lister, Vicar of Wistow; 1402, John Green; 1445, Edmund Karr; 1448, John Reynolds; 1462, John Wilkinson; 1476, John Ludwyn; 1501, John Gedling; 1508, Sir Thomas Blackett; 1521, R. Webster; 1533, William Skelton; 1537, Peter Batell; 1540, Thomas Metingham.
Most of the above were non-resident, some, like Thomas Lister, having other cures. The office was abolished at the dissolution, the last vicar receiving a pension of £5 annually for life.88
For over 80 years after this no service was carried on at Laxton,
An alienation in mortmain was the grant of land to a corporation, guild, or fraternity, usually of a religious nature, the practical result being that the land ceased to be parcel of the manors.
83 Mr. Ellis' MSS., quoting Add. MSS. 26721, p. 207.
84 Of Saltmarshe and Thorganby, eldest son of Thomas Saltmarshe by his wife Joan, d. and heir of Robert Gaunt. He married Elena, d. of Sir John Portington, Judge of the King's Bench, and was father of John Saltmarshe, the first mentioned in the 1585 Visitation.
85 Of Knedlington, see under Laxton Families."
86 Mr. Ellis MSS. quoting Inq. p. m., 6 E. VI.
87 Hutchinson's Durham, Vol. III., p. 453.
88 History of Howden by Mr. Thomas Clarke, p. 70.
and the old chapel having lost its endowment fell into ruin and decay.
In 1625 a new place of worship was erected by three maiden sisters, Anne, Elizabeth and Grace Dorey, a small part of the old chapel being preserved at one end. This church was known as St. Peter's, but why the old name was not kept up I cannot say.
The Misses Dorey also left for its upkeeep the following land : One acre, called " The shoulder of mutton,' in the Cherry Tree Row field, and one acre in the West fields, both in Saltmarshe; two acres in the Farnite fields in Laxton; four acres in Cotness; one small cottage and garden in Laxton; one and a half acres in Bishopsoils and a small close in Wallingfen.89
The income arising from these endowments, which are not quite the same as those mentioned in the report of 1824, has been paid into a fund for the repairs of the Chapel.
The money seems to have been insufficient for the upkeep of the building, and in 1769 it being represented that the Chapel being much decayed and worn, and beyond the powers of the township to repair, royal authority was given to collect alms for the purpose, the estimated cost being £1200, and an order was given to all not to retard the said collection.
By the same authority the following trustees were appointed for the charity: The Archbishop of York, Sir George Metham, 90 the Lord Mayor of York, Christopher Baylis, Esq., Revd. John Mallison, John Simpson, Amaziah Empson, 91 Philip and Arthur Saltmarshe, 92 and others.93
In 1797 £400 was given to the endowment of the Chapel out of Queen Anne's bounty, which was invested in a close at Kilpin. In 1800 another £400 was added from the same source, and invested in a close at Sutton, near Hull; and in 1809 a third donation of £200 was granted.8
The present Church, also St. Peter's, was built in 1875-6, at a cost of £3,400, raised by public subscription. It is constructed of stone, in the early English style, and consists of a chancel, nave, south porch, organ chamber, and a Western belfry containing two bells. The organ was presented by the late Mrs. Gamble, in memory of her first husband, Mr. Arthur Saltmarshe, and the marble pulpit by Mr. Saltmarshe, in memory of his second son, Arthur Harry, a lieutenant in the 90th Regiment, who was killed in action against the Gaikas at Intaba Ka'ndoda, near King William's Town, on 30th April, 1878.
89 From the Chapel Terrier.
90 Sir George Montgomery Metham sold Metham in 1779, and died the last of his line shortly afterwards.
91 Of Yokefleet, great-great-grandfather of the present owner.
92 Great-granduncle and great-grandfather of the present Mr. Saltmarshe. 93 Church Briefs, B. IX. 2, 9 G. III.