White's Directory of Nottinghamshire, 1853
Laxton or Lexington is a large parish which extends eastward from the loft summit of Cockin Hill, to Weston, in the Thurgarton Hundred, forming a bold amphitheatre, having its opening upon the East. It contains 3,955 acres of land, and comprises the large village of Laxton, the humble hamlet and chapelry of Moorhouse, near the eastern extremity, and 10 scattered farm houses called Brecks, Breckwong, Copthorne, Knapeney and Straw Hall, lying easterly; Brokelow, Saywood, Hartshorn and Laxton Lodge southerly; and Cockin Moor on the west, all within one mile and a half of the village, the whole containing 620 inhabitants. The soil is generally a strong clay of excellent corn land. More than two-thirds of the land belongs to Earl Manvers, who is lord of the manor and impropriator, and the remainder, except a few small freeholders, is the property of the Earl of Scarborough.
Laxton or Lexington, three miles south by west of Tuxford, and five miles east of Ollerton, is a considerable village on a pleasant declivity, celebrated for having given the title of baron to a family of its own name, and afterwards to the Suttons of Averham. Before the Norman invasion it belonged to Tochi, and was afterwards part of the fee of Goisford de Alselin, which was in the reign of Henry I, divided into two great baronies possessed by Ralph de Alselin of Shelford, and Robert de Caux of Lexington. In the reign of John, Richard de Lexington, who had his name from the residence of his ancestors, held lands here of the de Caux family, and having purchased large estates at other places, was summoned to parliament under the title of Baron Lexington. Henry de Lexington, the fourth Baron Lexington, died in 1257, when the title became extinct, and his property was divided betwixt his nephews and heirs, Richard de Mareham and William de Sutton, from the latter of whom descended Robert Sutton who, in 1645, was created Baron Lexington of Averham, but at the death of his successor of the same name, in 1723, the title again became extinct, and has not since been revived, though some time ago, it was expected to have been conferred upon that branch of the Sutton family, now resident at Kelham, one of whom was Charles Manners Sutton, Archbishop of Canterbury from 1792 until his death in 1805, and his son of the same name, who long held the office of Speaker in the House of Commons, but none of them have any property in this parish.
Laxton is also remarkable as the birth place of William Chapell, Bishop of Cork and Rosse in Ireland, who died in 1649, and was eminent in learning, piety and charity and, as Fuller says "he parted his estates equally betwixt his own kindred and distressed ministers". The parish has also produced an instance of great hurculean strength, in the person of the late john White of Copthrne, who died January 6th 1782, in his 70th year, and had long been famed as the heaviest and the strongest man in the county, being in weight 33 stone, and having on many occasions displayed an equal preponderance of power in the exercise of which he once took up a load of wheat in his hands and threw it from him over a wagon which his servants were loading. Mr George Pinder, a native of Laxton, but died in Weston-on-Trent, on teh 13th of March 1839, in his 43rd year, weighed 30 stones, and weas remarkable for strength and activity.
Laxton church, which stands on an eminance on the south-west of the village, is a large ancient structure, consisting of a spacious nave and chancel, with two side aisles, and a lofty tower in which are five musical bells. It is dedicated to St Michael, and had once many beautiful monuments and armorial carvings and paintings of the ancient families of Roose, Everingham, Hastings, Gray, Longvilliers &c. However, these are now eitehr mutilated or totally gone, partly through the irresistable decay of time, but principally owing, according to Mr Throsby's observations in 1795, to the unpardonable neglect of those who ought to have preserved them from wanton destruction. Throsby gives, in particular, a most horrid description of the accumulation of filth and broken tombs, which he found in the north cemetery or chapel, but it is pleasing to observe that a change for the better has lately taken place. The chapel, which has long been used as the parish school, has been cleansed, and three effigies of Crusaders in full armour have been removed from the mischievous company of the scholars into the chancel, where there are three other recumbent figures on a tomb nearly six feet high, representing another crusading knight and his two wives. At the south-east corner of the nave is a curious square pew, son which is carved a shield with five weeping eyes upon it, and this inscription, "Robert Trafford, Vic de Laxton, hoc fieri fec it Anno Domini 1532". There was anciently a chantry in the church, endowed with land in the parish. In 1836, two stoves were put into the church, and in 1843 the roof was new-leaded, and the interior thoroughly repaired. The rectory was appropriated to Jesus College, in Rotherham, which was founded by Thomas Rotherham, Archbishop of York, in 1500, but the patronage and impropriation now belong to Earl Manvers. The benefice if a vicarage now enjoyed by the Rev. Richard Proctor, and is valued in the King's books at £11, now £182. A little north of the church is a conical hill, which has a deep moat round it, and is supposed to be the site of an exploratory tower, erected by one of the early lords of the manor, to communicate with another raised by his kinsmen at Egmanton. The annual feast is on the nearest Sunday to Old Michaelmas Day.
Moorhouse, 1½ east of Laxton, and 3 miles south by east of Tuxford, is a small hamlet and chapelry, consisting of a few neat cottages. It has a constable, and repairs its own roads, but keeps its poor conjointly with Laxton. the chapel, a small ancient building on the north side of the village, had formerly a guild or chantry endowed with land in the hamlet. The curacy is annexed to the vicarage of Laxton, and is endowed with the rectorial tithes of the chapelry, all the lands in which belong to Earl Manvers, except three small farms belonging to J.E. Denison Esq., Mr White, and Francis and Thomas Skinner. In 1831, three human skeletons were found in a close near the east extremity of the village, where tradition says, there formerly were several houses, the inhabitants of which are said to have died of the plague. Some years before, the head and part of a human body was found in the Easter Kings, a field near the east extremity of the parish.
The Hinds were an ancient family here, and had a mansion, of whom Edmond, the last of the family, died in 1773, and was succeeded by the Herrings, the last of whom, John, died about 1781, and the heiress carried the estates to George Pinder, at whose death their estates were all sold, when Earl Manvers purchased the Moorhouse part, took down the old mansion, and erected a farm house on the site. The village was built on and around a deep quagmire, which was formed by the junction of two streams, which rose from opposite sides of the parish, and brought the water to that point, and which united a little east of the village, but it has been enclosed, and greatly improved the last few years by the cutting of deep drains to carry off the water, and by the formation of good roads.
The Charities belonging to Laxton parish are as follows: the schoolmaster teaches ten poor children, for the use of the school in the church, and 40s yearly left many years ago by an unknown donor. John White, merchant of Sheffield, but a native of this parish, by will dated Sept. 26th 1806, left £40 to the poor, to be distributed in bread. He was the son of the before named John White, of hurculean memory. His legacy is now in the hands of his nephew's son, Francis White of Copthorn, who pays 40s yearly interest. John Hunt, in 1818, left £100 and George Lee, in 1822, a yearly rent charge of 20s for the same charitable purpose. The £100 is now lent on mortgage of a close belonging to William Stanfield. These doles of bread, amounting to £9 per annum, are distributed by the overseers and churchwardens on Christmas a d New Year's Day. The Church Land, appropriated for the repairs of the church, consist of 13a 3r 6p situated in the West Field, the South Field, the Mill Field, and the Inclosure, as described minutely upon a tablet in the church. No deeds can be found relating to it, but the yearly rents, amounting to £28 3s 6d, are always caried to the churchwardens' general account.
[Transcribed by Clive Henly]