Howdenshire History

History of Laxton, East Yorkshire


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Some of the following information is taken from an article about Laxton written by Philip Saltmarshe of Saltmarshe Hall. At the time of writing in the early twentieth century he owned most of Laxton and Saltmarshe and had in his possession many of the documents and deeds relating to the two villages.

Laxton was first mentioned 1086 in the Domesday book. The name probably means Lax’s farm but it is often believed to be connected with the word 'lax' which means salmon. There were salmon in the nearby River Ouse.

In 1086 Laxton consisted of only one carucate of land (about 120-150 acres) while neighbouring Saltmarshe was six carucates. Sometime in the 12th century a large drainage ditch was dug by John le Clerk of Metham (Metham is about a mile from Laxton) and Laxton probably benefited from the better drainage it brought.


Manors of Laxton

By 1316 there were three separate manors within the settlement of Laxton. They belonged to:

1. Nicholas de Metham
2. Geoffrey Hotham
3. Henry Sothill


In the poll tax of 1379 Laxton had 16 married couples and 28 single adults (over the age of 15). The richest taxpayer was John Dayvill, a franklin (quite a well-off farmer) who paid 6s 8d. There were very few tradespeople - most were servants or farmworkers.


1. The manor of Nicholas de Metham

This manor covered most of Laxton as well as the area known as Trandike ("tranedic" in 1199; "trandyke" in 1282 - we still have Trandy Lane today). The Methams owned it until 1649 when it was sold to David Belt of Howden.

David Belt sold his manor to the Corporation of York, then in 1837 they sold it to Philip Saltmarshe. It appears to have been centred round the area near the blacksmith’s shop (possibly this was known in the 19th century as Popples’ farmhouse).


2. The manor of Geoffrey de Hotham

Geoffrey was granted land in Laxton in 1281. He owned a mill in the village, possibly water-powered. He was also granted free warren (the right to hunt certain game) in 1310.

In 1445 William Hotham sold some of his Laxton land to John Portington of Laxton.

In 1531 Thomas Braunch owned this manor.

In 1533 the same land was owned by Robert Brandling, a former sheriff of Newcastle who died in 1568. The land passed down the family to Robert Brandling who inherited in 1576 when he was just one year old. It then consisted of eight houses, 30 acres of arable land, 100 acres of pasture, 60 acres of meadow and 10 acres of wood. The Brandlings probably never came to Laxton.

In 1608 the Brandling family sold their Laxton manor to John Higdon. He was already living there as he was listed in the muster roll with his own armour in 1584. His son, also John, married Elizabeth Monkton of Caville.

From the 1672 hearth tax records we know that Ralph Higdon was living in Laxton in a house with an impressive seven hearths. This could have been on site of today’s Manor Farm.


The Bayles family of Laxton

In 1682 the Bayles (or Baylis) family bought the manor from Ralph Higdon. They were originally Selby merchants.

Christopher Bayles of Laxton was born on the 10th March 1685. On the 30th December 1712 he married Elizabeth, the daughter of John Wastell of Bolton near Richmond, Yorkshire, afterwards of Ainderby Steeple. She had been born on September 12th 1690.

Christopher and Elizabeth Bayles had nine children:


Christopher, born March 19th 1714

Elizabeth, born August 25th 1715, died April 1744

John, 1716 - 1720

Nathaniel, 1717-1718

Deborah, born December 1721, married 1746, died 30 March 1782 aged 62

John, 1722 -1724

Frances, born May 1724

Barbara, born March 1726, married 15th Sep 1760

Catherine, 1727 -1728


An old family record states that:

Elizabeth Bayles, the Mother of the above nine Children, Dyed in Child bed the 10th of October 1727; and was buried the 12th, In the North Isle, at the West end of St Mary's Church in Kingston upon Hull.
Christopher Bayles, the Husband to Elizabeth, Dyed the ... [blank] ... And was buried the ... [blank] ... In the Chapel at Laxton near Howden.

Christopher Bayles was a merchant in Kingston upon Hull. He was Chamberlain there in 1714 and Sheriff in 1717.

In the old chapel at Laxton are memorial stones to Christopher Bayles of Laxton who died 1744, his daughter Elizabeth Bayles who also died 1744, his son Christopher who died 1782, and his daughter Barbara Bayles who married her first cousin John Wastell of Doncaster and died in 1794. These stones are in poor condition.


The following summaries of abstracts from wills are from the Borthwick Institute at York University:

Christopher Bayles [1] of Laxton, dated 24 May 1744
His executor was his son Christopher Bayles. The will mentions lands in Laxton, Skelton, Riccall, Selby and Skipwith. He left bequests of £800 each to his daughters Deborah, Frances and Barbara.
The will was proved by Christopher Bayles, son and executor, Kingston upon Hull, merchant, 4 January 1744/5.


Christopher Bayles [2] of Laxton, Esq., dated 18 Aug 1782
Left bequests to Elizabeth the daughter of Mary Leek, otherwise Mary Aldham, "my servant who now resideth with me"; to Mary Leek, otherwise Mary Aldham; to "my sister Frances Bayles" (executor); to "my sister Barbara, wife of John Wastell, Esq."; to John Wastell of Aynderby Steeple near Northallerton, County of York, son of Rev. Mr Wastell, late of Simondburn, Northumberland, clerk; and to "my late servant Sarah Crowston". Proved 11 June 1783.


Frances Bayles of Laxton, spinster, dated 17 December 1794
She left:

"To my nephews Christopher Inman and Charles Inman [they were the sons of her sister Deborah, who had married Michael Inman of Hull], £50 apiece.
To my servant maid, Ann Waud, £20, my cloaths, wearing apparel, my trunk with a hair cover and a mourning ring.
The residue to my niece Elizabeth ,the wife of Charles Escricke Broadley of Kingston upon Hull, Esq.
Scarfs and rings to be given to each of my said nephews and to friends and acquaintances."

The will declared Elizabeth Broadley to be sole executrix.
It was proved on the 24th June 1799. Executrix Elizabeth Broadley was duly sworn before Thomas Rudd, Surrogate.
There was a declaration instead of an inventory - the executrix declared that the said deceased's personal effects at the time of death would not amount to the sum of six hundred pounds.


The Bayles family built Manor Farm.

As the above wills show, the last Christopher Bayles who died in 1782 had left all his property to his illegitimate daughter Mary Leek. She had married Charles Broadley.

Their son, Charles Bayles Broadley of London, sold the whole estate to Philip Simpson, the owner of Metham and vicar of Laxton, in 1845.

In 1854 Philip Saltmarshe swapped Manor Farm and lands for the manor of Cotness. He then modernised the farm. The tenant then was a Mr Shaw. Later the land agent Mr Biggs lived there.


3. The manor belonging to the Sothill family

Some members of the Sothill family - Robert and John - may have lived at Laxton Hall. This was about half a mile west of the village near the present double bend (Hall Garth).

The land passed in the 16th century to William Lowson, a local man living in Laxton. He too was in Laxton in 1584 when the muster roll lists him as having his own 'coat plate' and a 'bill'. At that time Laxton and Skelton together had ten pikemen, 15 billmen, 23 calivers and six archers.

William Lowson died in 1613. At the time of his death he owned Laxton Hall, five cottages and around 100 acres. His heiress, Elizabeth, was then aged four.

By the mid-17th century Thomas Girlington of Sandhall was the lord of this manor and the lands were split up. The new owner of much of it was Christopher Fulthorpe who, the hearth tax shows, lived in a house with six hearths - probably on the site of Hall Farm today.

In 1698 the Fulthorpes sold the manor to Richard Mawson, the second son of Robert Mawson of Cotness. In 1714 he built himself a new house; his initials are still on the north end wall of Hall Farm.

It is not easy to work out the locations of some of the farms as in 1855 when Philip Saltmarshe had obtained possession of most of the village farms, with the exception of Church Farm, he remodelled them. This must have been quite traumatic for the tenants as what it meant was that some farm houses lost all their land while other land was moved between farms to tidy up their holdings and group fields together.



A history of Laxton church

Laxton was part of the bishop of Durham’s Howden lands and there is no documentary evidence of it having its own place of worship until the 15th century. However, Laxton (with Skelton) was one of the prebends of the collegiate church at Howden and the village tithes of hay, wool and lambs used to provide for the prebendary. From 1330 Laxton had its own vicar appointed but, although there is a full list of holders of the office from 1330-1540, most of these were non-resident and so there is no certainty that regular services were held or even a date for when the chapel was built.

In 1409 John de Skipwith and others endowed a chantry in the chapel of St John the Evangelist in Laxton with a “messuage (formerly held of Alexander de Metham, chivaler), a toft and 35 acres of land (formerly held of William de Rascelin)”. This seems to have been one of several such endowments - in 1481, for example, Edward Saltmarshe left 3s 4d to Laxton chapel and 3s 4d to the Chaplain to hold a service there.

It is therefore difficult to say when Laxton chapel was built but it seems likely that it was some time in the 14th century.


In the 16th century King Henry VIII seized the land belonging to Laxton chapel; in all, about 100 acres. He sold it to Nicholas Arlush of Knedlington who, in his inquisition post mortem in 1553, owned 100 acres of land “arable, meadow and pasture, late parcel of the chapel of St John in Laxton”.

The chapel itself (which stands in the graveyard) fell into disuse and decay since its endowment no longer existed.

Then in 1625 three sisters - Anne, Elizabeth and Grace Dorey - paid for the building of a new place of worship at Laxton, incorporating part of the old chapel. An engraving of it still hangs in the present Laxton church. For some reason the new ‘chapel’ was known as St Peter’s rather than St. John's.

The sisters also endowed the new building with land to pay for its upkeep: “shoulder of mutton” in Cherry tree row field; one acre in West field, Saltmarshe; two acres in Farnite fields, Laxton; four acres in Cotness; a small cottage and a garden in Laxton; one and a half acres in Bishopsoil and a small close in Wallingfen.


But by 1769 the Laxton chapel was again decayed and worn and the village was unable to maintain it. Permission was granted to collect for its upkeep, a sum of £1200 being necessary. In 1797 £400 was granted out of Queen Anne’s bounty to help pay for the chapel and this was invested in a close at Kilpin. In 1800 another £400 was granted and in 1809 another £200.

At this time, of course, Laxton was still a chapel-of-ease to Howden and until the 19th century the curates do not seem to have lived in the village. The first curate, licensed on March 14th 1673, was Rev. John Mallison who was also curate of Eastrington, Barmby on the Marsh and Barlby and vicar of Hemingbrough. He was followed by Rev. Robert Poole (1793-1813), Rev. Thomas Allanson (1813-1814) and Rev. R Thomas (1814-1821).

In 1821 Rev. Edward Ward was appointed and he seems to have lived in Laxton. Four curates followed until in 1847 Rev. Philip Simpson, owner of nearby Metham, became the incumbent. He resigned in 1850 and was followed by Rev. William Hutchinson who became vicar of Howden in 1855. He was followed by Rev. Richard Ellis and it was he who became Laxton’s first vicar when in 1858 Laxton became a separate parish. The stipend then was £50 p.a. but in 1859 Mr Saltmarshe gave an extra £30.

In 1860 he sold what was formerly Eland’s/Nottingham’s farm house (now “Vicarage Farm”) as a vicarage. Rev. Ellis resigned in 1868 and was succeeded as vicar of Laxton by Rev. Edward Simpson (son of earlier vicar Philip Simpson).

In 1875-6 the present Laxton church was built at a cost of £3400, the sum of which was raised by public subscription.


Rose Cottage and Laxton Church, Laxton, Yorkshire

Rose Cottage and Laxton Church pictured in the snow


inside Laxton church, Laxton, Yorkshire

The interior of Laxton church showing the oak carved screen erected in memory of Rev Edward Whitmore Simpson of Metham Hall, who was vicar of Laxton for 42 years until his death in 1910


The Hatfield family of Laxton

The Hatfields were a well-established local family, farming 12 acres in Laxton. Thomas Hatfield, born in 1832, was the son of Benjamin Hatfield and Catherine (nee Wright) who were married at Howden on December 6th 1821. Thomas and his wife Eliza had several children including another Thomas, born 1874.

Many members of the Hatfield family played an active part in Laxton village life. Benjamin was the parish clerk and both Thomas Hatfields in their time acted as sexton and village carrier, driving to Howden market every Saturday.

In the winter of 1899 Thomas Hatfield made a somewhat more daring trip than his usual run when he drove his pony and trap, in which his wife and daughter were passengers, over the frozen River Ouse from Saltmarshe to Reedness. His feat was commemorated in the photograph below which shows Thomas standing proudly at the head of his pony.


old photo of Thomas Hatfield, pony and trap in Laxton, Yorkshire



Laxton pictures

Below are some more 'recent' pictures of Laxton:


old photo of C Dowson and landgirls, Church Farm, Laxton, East Yorkshire

Mr C Dowson and landgirls at Church Farm


the Mothers' Union at the Victory Hall, Laxton, East Yorkshire

Celebrating 50 years of the Mothers' Union in Laxton Victory Hall, June 1984


supper in the Victory Hall, Laxton, East Yorkshire

Chicken tonight? Preparing supper in Laxton Victory Hall


old photo of Laxton Victory Hall, Laxton, East Yorkshire

Laxton Victory Hall has recently been refurbished [2009]. Here is the original opening ceremony.

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