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DOCUMENT 1

Nottinghamshire Archives, Laxton PR4142: Page from the 1821 census return for the parish of Laxton

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A very detailed census return exists for Laxton in 1821, and is held at Nottinghamshire Archives Office. This is the first page, written out by the vicar. It gives the names of the heads of each household, indicates what kind of occupation they had, and provides details about the gender and age range of everybody living in their house.

In 1821 there were 113 houses in Laxton and 122 families. 102 of these families were involved in agriculture, and 17 in crafts and trades. Unfortunately the census does not tell us what these crafts and trades were.

DOCUMENT 2

Ma B 174/334: Abstract of the 1831 census return for the parish of Laxton

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This document does not provide the names of the householders, but it is a useful comparison to the 1821 census. The village had grown: in 1831 there were 126 houses and 130 families. This return does state the types of crafts and trades practised in the village, and reveals that there were just two ‘educated’ men: the vicar and the schoolmaster.

DOCUMENT 3

Transcription of Laxton census return entries for two families named Rose, 1841-1901

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Family members can often be tracked through a number of different censuses. These census return entries from 1841, 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891 and 1901 give details about two families living in Laxton, headed in 1861 by Sarah Rose and Joseph Rose.

The Manvers estate map of 1862 (see Theme 1, Document 15) shows that in 1862 Sarah Rose was the tenant of the cottage, garden and orchard numbered 52, while Joseph Rose lived in a farmhouse on plot 72, on the site of modern-day Bottom Farm in Laxton. Joseph’s farmhouse was described in detail in the accompanying survey (Theme 1, Document 19).

DOCUMENT 4

Nottinghamshire Archives, Laxton PR4050: Extracts from the Laxton parish baptism register, 1820-1822

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At this period the village was often referred to as ‘Lexington’. These examples from the baptism register give the father’s occupations. It is therefore possible to discover what some of the 'unknown' crafts of the 1821 census were, e.g. Bagshaw = miller; Childs = blacksmith; S. Pinder = butcher, George Pinder = publican; Wright = carpenter.

DOCUMENT 5

Ma B 165/49: The ‘Easter Book’, summary of Easter dues and small tithes payable to the vicar of Laxton, 1741

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The ‘Easter book’ gives details of how the vicarial or small tithes were worked out in Laxton. The second part of the document is a list of the names of each parishioner, what they were assessed on, and money owed in 1741. It is easy to see who kept cows, who kept bees, and which one person paid money for a servant.

DOCUMENT 6

Ma 4895: Survey of rectorial tithes in Laxton, 1740-1741

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These are summary pages from a complete survey of tithes in Laxton. The survey provides a full description of each piece of land in the parish, stating its acreage, whether it is arable, meadow or pasture land, and the amount of tithe payable to the vicar for it.

This summary gives the names of the tenants and freeholders in Laxton, the amount of arable land they worked (of which there is a wide variation between people), and the amount of rectorial tithe payable at 2 shillings per acre. The numbers before each name refer to the page number of the full survey giving full details of their landholding.

DOCUMENT 7

Ma B 164/27: Schedule of tithes in Laxton, 1789

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There is a continuous run of tithe schedules from 1760-1810 indicating clearly the names of tenants and freeholders in Laxton and Moorhouse. The 1789 schedule was chosen for this resource because it illustrates the increases worked out the next year. A check with the 1790 schedules confirms the pencil figures of 1789.

It seems that tithes were not paid in kind, but the value was converted into a sum of money which would be regarded as an additional rent charge on the tenants. We can assume that the tenants paying the most tithe were the tenants who worked the most land and grew the most crops.

DOCUMENT 8

Ma S 16: Summary page from schedule of Earl Manvers’ estate in Laxton, 1862

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Thomas Huskinson’s survey of Laxton is very detailed. Each farm was described and measured, and Huskinson offered advice on how the estate could be improved. These summary pages give an overview of the each of the tenants’ holdings.

DOCUMENT 9

Ma S 16: Ma B 192/1176: Laxton window tax return, 1771

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Window tax was first raised in 1696 and not abolished until 1851.This return is interesting in that it not only gives the names of some of the villagers, but also clearly indicates the size of houses in so far as the number of windows can do this.

DOCUMENT 10

AN/LB 236/2/37: Nomination of Mr John Hunter as schoolmaster of Laxton, 1727

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This petition is signed or marked by 51 inhabitants of Laxton, both men and women. It is possible that some of those who signed were in fact only able to write their name, and could not read or write anything else.

DOCUMENT 11

Ma B 222/24: Printed notice of sale of household furniture and farming stock at Laxton, 1849

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This document gives a vivid idea of the kind of items which would be found on a farm. It is unclear whether they were Joseph Rose’s own possessions, but other documents suggest that he did not sell up the whole of his concern at this time. According to the estate survey of 1862 he was still farming in Laxton and living in the same house in which an earlier Joseph Rose (probably his father, who died in 1843) had lived in 1820.

DOCUMENT 12

Ma B 172/266: Inventory and valuation of the goods of Richard Reynolds of Laxton, 1805

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This inventory is 7 pages long and provides an enormous amount of detail about how Richard lived. It tells us the kind of arable crops he was growing, the livestock and farming implements he owned, what his household furniture consisted of, and how many rooms there were in the house. Some of the words used are technical and possibly archaic – most people will need to consult a dictionary to find out what a ‘wimble’ was.

DOCUMENT 13

Ma B 176/372: Valuation of tenant right on Thomas Motley’s farm in Laxton, 1879

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‘Tenant right’ was compensation, paid when a tenant left a farm, for the improvements he had made and the work he had left uncompleted. So, he would be repaid for the time and money he had spent on ploughing and labouring to grow arable crops which had yet to be harvested and sold, and for any new fixtures and fittings he had provided for the farmhouse during his tenancy.

DOCUMENT 14

AN/PB 292/1/folio 10r/1: Copy presentment bill, Laxton, 1587

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Here the churchwardens present Mr Thomas Roos for not going to the church service, for ‘receiving’ Elizabeth Roe, who was suspected of ‘incontinency’ (sexual misconduct), and for a suspicion of adultery with Dorothy, wife of Nicholas Smith. Thomas Roos died in 1610 and was the younger brother of Mr Peter Roos, Lord of the Manor of Laxton.

DOCUMENT 15

AN/PB 294/1/196: Copy presentment bill, Laxton, 1603

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Status was clearly no barrier to being brought before the Archdeaconry court, as in 1603 the Lady of the Manor, Peter Roos’s wife Bridget, was presented. The presentment bill shows that she did not attend church or receive holy communion. This presentment bill is a good example of the erratic spelling often employed by local people transcribing words phonetically, for instance ‘yowsally’ for ‘usually’.

DOCUMENT 16

AN/A 13: Act Book entry relating to Bridget Roos, 1603

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This Act Book entry shows that Bridget was excommunicated for her offences given in Document 15. This meant she was prevented from receiving holy communion. This set Bridget apart from her neighbours at church, and could also have civil consequences.

DOCUMENT 17

AN/A 14/2: Act Book entry relating to Peter Roos, 1605

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Mr Peter Roos himself was prosecuted in 1605 for participating in the ‘May Game’ in Laxton on the Sabbath (a Sunday). The Act Book entry reveals that he confessed, and was dismissed on payment of 12 pence to the poor people of the parish.

DOCUMENT 18

AN/A 14/2: Act Book entries relating to Bridget Roos and Ralph Brette, 1605-1606

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Bridget continued to get into trouble until the early 1620s. These Act Book entries show that in 1605 she was presented along with Ralph Brette for an unspecified offence. Men and women presented together were usually presented for adultery or other sexual misdemeanours, and this may be the case here.

They were both excommunicated on 7 December 1605, but on 31 January 1606 the sentence was ‘relaxed’, or dropped. No reasons were given, but Bridget was a widow by 1606 as her husband Peter died in 1605. This could explain why the charges were dropped.

DOCUMENT 19

AN/PB 295/7/158: Presentment bill, Laxton, 1618

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In later years Bridget Roos got married again, to Richard Clark, but this did not improve her behaviour. Documents 19 and 20 are two more presentment bills against her, one in 1618 for ‘keeping company’ with a Thomas Spadman, and one in 1621 for not receiving holy communion.

DOCUMENT 20

AN/PB 326/2/20: Presentment bill, Laxton, 1621

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This presentment bill accuses Bridget Clark of not receiving holy communion.

DOCUMENT 21

AN/PB 326/9/31: Presentment bill, Laxton, 1625

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‘Mr Fraunces Rosse’ was presented here for railing and brawling in the churchyard with Robert Okes of Tuxford. He was possibly the same Francis Roos who was a churchwarden in Laxton in various years between 1621 and 1631. Unfortunately, no more details are available in the Archdeaconry records to explain the quarrel in the churchyard, or to reveal what happened to Francis and Robert.

DOCUMENT 22

AN/LB 221/5/23/3-5: Depositions in Archdeaconry cause of adultery, Nicholas Walker v. Peter Roos, 1610

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This court case centred around the alleged adultery of Rose Walker, wife of Nicholas Walker, with Peter Roos. It is unclear exactly who Peter was, but he may have been a relative of Bridget Roos, as some of the events occurred at Laxton Hall. The depositions record the evidence of five different people, each of whom give their version of events leading up to the discovery of the adultery.

They talk of secret assignations, messages passed between the lovers, and gifts of a purse, a shirt and some napkins. The final confrontation is also described. Rose left the house in just a gown and slippers in order to meet Peter in a nearby field. However, the pair were followed by Nicholas, the constable and other witnesses, and after a threat to draw swords, Peter and Rose were arrested.

DOCUMENT 23

AN/LB 221/5/23/1-2, AN/LB 221/5/23/6-7 and AN/A 21: Cause papers and Act Book entry in Archdeaconry cause of adultery, Walker v. Roos, 1610-1611

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The other cause papers in the same bundle, all in Latin, include a ‘Libel’ (the initial prosecution paper), ‘personal answers’ of Peter Roos (which do not reveal any new information, but do show his signature), the ‘Sentence’ of the judge, a bill for the court costs, and an extract from the Act Book.

The Act Book extract reveals that Peter Roos, after not appearing numerous times, appeared in court on 13 July 1611 and confessed to carnal knowledge of Rose Walker. He was ‘enjoined’ (ordered to perform) a penance. Penance was a very public and humiliating punishment, usually performed in the parish church during a busy Sunday service, when all the penitent’s friends and neighbours were present.

The offender was required to kneel at the front of the church, or stand on a bench so that he or she could be clearly seen. The minister would preach a sermon denouncing the sin, and the penitent then read out loud a statement acknowledging their sin, saying that they were sorry and asking for forgiveness. They were normally bare-legged and bare-headed, carried a white rod, and were dressed in a white sheet. We know very little about exactly how the sheet was worn or how big it was, although the churchwardens of Cossall were presented to the court in 1637 for allowing two parishioners to perform their penances wrapped in the communion table cloth!

Peter Roos was asked to perform his penance three times: firstly on a Sunday in Laxton parish church, secondly on the next Sunday in Bilsthorpe church, and thirdly on the following Wednesday in Newark market place. Doing a penance three times, including once in a crowded public place, was a particularly severe punishment and indicated that this offence was taken more seriously than most instances of sexual misconduct. Unfortunately, we cannot be sure that Peter performed his penance, as no certificate has survived in the Archdeaconry archive.

 

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