Freeholders, tenants and the Pierrepont family
Being the lord of the manor was not necessarily the same thing as being the biggest landowner. As well as the main manor of Laxton, there was a sub-manor based on the hamlet of Laxton Moorhouse. In 1635 the sub-manor was divided between Peter Broughton and Augustine Hinde. There were also 25 people who owned small amounts of land in Laxton. However, in 1635 most inhabitants of Laxton did not own their own land, but were tenants of Sir William Courten, Peter Broughton or Augustine Hinde.
People who owned land were known as freeholders. Sales of land were recorded in title deeds, some of which still survive today as a record of the transaction. Document 6 and Document 7 are examples of title deeds relating to land in Laxton and Moorhouse.
The 'Duke of Kingston' referred to in the second deed was Evelyn Pierrepont, 2nd Duke of Kingston-upon-Hull (1711-1773). He succeeded to the Laxton estate in 1726, at the age of only 15. Until he came of age in 1732, Laxton was administered by trustees. One of the ways in which they thought they could improve the estate was to buy up land from the small freeholders in order to consolidate the Duke's lands. Document 8 is part of an abstract of freehold estates in Laxton owned by people other than the Duke, drawn up in 1732.
In 1736 the 2nd Duke of Kingston owned 64.5 percent of the land in Laxton [Source: Beckett, A History of Laxton, p.99]. He was an absentee landowner, whose main residences were Thoresby Hall and Holme Pierrepont Hall. He took little interest in his estate, and was known for gambling and loose living. He was succeeded on his death in 1773 by his wife Elizabeth Chudleigh, Lady Kingston, who lived abroad. On her death in 1788 his estates passed to his nephew Charles Medows (1737-1816), who assumed the surname Pierrepont. He was made Earl Manvers in 1806. The Pierrepont family continued to own the Manor of Laxton until it was sold by the 6th Earl Manvers in 1951.
A great deal of evidence about Laxton comes from the family's papers, known as the Manvers Collection. The collection includes a number of maps and surveys from the 18th and 19th centuries. Maps and surveys can be used by researchers to plot how the Pierrepont family extended their estate in Laxton, or to track the history of a particular farm or family. Such surveys may not show every plot of land in the village, because they were drawn up by agents of the Pierrepont family to help with the administration of their own estate. Documents 9-15 are examples of these maps and surveys, ranging in date from 1736 to 1862.
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