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"BROXTOW, a hamlet and a hundred in Notts. The hamlet is in Bilbrough parish, 3¼ miles NW of Nottingham; and was once a parish. The hundred lies around the hamlet; extends 23 miles northward from the Trent, and 22 eastward from Derbyshire; and is cut into two divisions, North and South. The N. division contains sixteen parishes. Acres, 51,836. Pop. in 1851, 48,653. The S. division contains also sixteen parishes. Acres, 30,253. Pop. in 1851, 35,483. Pop. of both in 1861, 88,886. Houses, 18,600." [John Marius Wilson's "Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales," 1870-72]
Broxtowe is both an ancient politcal entity called a Wapentake or Hundred and a small hamlet in Nottinghamshire.
A Wapentake was usually named after a prominent landmark or meeting place, typically an open field where many men could gather. A county may have just three or four wapentakes, or as many as a dozen if it were large enough. And, of course, wapentakes did not trouble themselves with our modern county boundaries.
There are not a lot of family history records organized by Wapentake, but a lot of older archival records are. If you are in a library or archive office, do not overlook the wapentake records as sources.
- The Wapentake was a place where the warriors from surrounding villages could gather and discuss issues that affected everyone in the region. You would vote in favor of a proposal by showing your weapon (hence "Wapentake").
- The Wapentake fell out of use after Civil Registration was introduced in the early 1800s and England made a large effort to ensure that each person had a representative vote in government.
- You will find many published directories of the 1700s and early 1800s are organized by Wapentake.
- Although we no longer gather in Wapentakes to decide our fates, some wapentakes have been converted into modern districts for district governance. A good example would be the Bassetlaw District of Leicestershire, which was once a wapentake.