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the King, her son ; and the report, dated September 8th, 1500, was presented by the Commissioners at Maxey Castle, in the presence of the most noble Countess. Among the Commissioners were Lords Willoughby, Rosse, Fitzwater, and Hastings. This report I have transcribed from the papers of the Commissioners of Sewers at Spalding, and have printed at full, with a translation, in the second volume of Fenland Notes and Queries.
Before the manor of Maxey came to the Beauforts, it had belonged to the Thorpes. În 1374, a licence to crenellate the manor house was granted to Sir William de Thorpe. The place was, rightly, thereafter called the Castle. The same cannot be said of two neighbouring manor houses, those at Woodcroft and Northborough, though both are very commonly called castles, and the appearance of the former seems quite to justify the title ; but the published lists of such licences to crenellate do not contain the names of either of those places. The moat which surrounded Maxey Castle is in good condition ; but no part of the castle itself remains. The farmhouse which now goes by the name is a fairly good specimen of late seventeenth-century date, but it is built outside the moat.
The De la Mares were a knightly family of considerable importance. They were connected with Maxey for more than two hundred years. They were Foresters of Kesteven and Hereditary Constables of Peterborough Abbey. In 1294, this office was claimed by Geoffrey de la Mare, but disputed by the Abbot. The claimant, however, produced a deed by which Abbot John (11141125) had granted to Brian de la Mare and his heirs for ever the office of Constable of the Abbey. Several important privileges were attached to the office. The Constable had the command of the men supplied by the Abbey for the King's wars ; he had the right of serving the Abbot at his installation feast with the first dish, and of having as his fee all the gold and silver plate which the Abbot personally used at the banquet; he had the right of stopping when he liked at the Abbey, with three men-at-arms, five horses, five pages, and two greyhounds. He had two robes a year, or 40s. for each.
He claimed also to take any message the Abbot might want to send anywhere in the kingdom, at the Abbot's expense. These rights were all said to be attached to his free tenement in Maxey. But after establishing his claim, this Geoffrey sold the office to the Abbot for 60 marks, and was discharged for ever from all duties and services appertaining to it. In 1227 Brian de la Mare died : and King Edward I, passing through the country just before Christmas on his way to York, seized his lands as being part of the forest of Kesteven and Holland. In 1283 Peter de la Mare, going against the Welsh enemies of the King, was drowned near Snowdon. The Abbot took possession of his lands by right of wardship. The heir was, however, detained by Mabel, wife of Nicholas de Weston, and proceedings were taken against her. In the end she purchased of the Abbot the maritagium, or right of bestowing in marriage, of Geoffrey the heir, and his brother for 110 marks ; and at the same time Geoffrey of Southorp bought the wardship for 200 marks. This Geoffrey died in 1327. The sacrist demanded his body for burial in the monastery; and he was there buried, in the lady-chapel, by his ancestors. And the sacrist took for his fee the war-horse, and all his arms, his sword, lance, helmet, breast-plate, aketon (padded tunic), and greaves.
But, because the war-horse was worth more than five marks, the Abbot. took it, contrary to the custom of the house, with the bridle, saddle and trappings. The next day the sacrist protested, so the Abbot gave up all the harness; but he kept the horse. The son of this man, also named Geoffrey (though he is sometimes called Godfrey) was the last of his race. He married the daughter of Geoffrey le Scrope, one of the King's Chief Justices. It is conjectured by some antiquaries that two effigies at Glinton, of a knight and his lady, represent this couple; and further, that to him is due the erection of the beautiful south transept and manor house at Northborough.
There have resided also in the parish, at various times, members of the Fairfax, Worsley, and Claypole families. My mention of these must be brief. A branch of the Fairfax family of Yorkshire settled at Deeping Gate in
the early part of the fifteenth century, or perhaps earlier ; and for at least four generations lived at Fairfax Hall, in this parish. William, the second of the series, was High Sheriff of the county in 1461. I have a tolerably complete pedigree of this family from the twelfth century. William Fairfax, the last to live here, died in 1505, and left an only daughter and heiress, Margaret, who was thrice married: (1) to John Peyton, (2) to Miles Worsley, (3) to Robert Brudenell. When making some alteration in a garden wall at the vicarage in 1881, a stone was found that seemed to have some carving on the surface, and it was brought to me to try and interpret it. After careful washing and scrubbing, I discovered an impaled coat-of
On the dexter side was the shield of the Brudenells, a chevron between three knights' caps ; and on the sinister side a coat, quarterly, about which I knew nothing. Not till ten years later did I find out that this stone was really commemorative of the third marriage of Margaret Fairfax with Robert Brudenell. The quartered coat has the arms of Fairfax and Harrington. I have seen a most interesting psalter belonging to William Fairfax, son of the High Sheriff and grandfather of Margaret Brudenell
. In this psalter is a small MS. calendar, described in Notes and Queries, 3rd S., ii, 310, that contains notes of the births, baptisms, etc., of his children at Deeping Gate. The
sponsors were many
of them ladies of rank, such as Edith St. John, daughter of the Duchess of Somerset ; Elizabeth Zouche, daughter of Lord de Grey; and ecclesiastical and monastic dignitaries, such as the Abbots of Peterborough and Bourne, the Archdeacon of Leicester, the Prior of Deeping, and many neighbouring rectors. Robert Brudenell himself was buried at Maxey in 1539.
The second marriage of this same Margaret Fairfax to Miles Worsley reminds us of another family of note long resident in the parish and neighbourhood. This family, originally from Lancashire, appears in the Northamptonshire Heralds' Visitations. Richard Worsley, of Deeping Gate, appears among the contributors to the defence of the country at the time of the Spanish Armada. By his will, 1607, in which he describes himself as
Esquire, he desires to be buried in the parish church of Maxey, where his ancestors lie. A descendant, in the next century, Susan Worsley, of S. Clement Danes, spinster, left the residue of her estate to the
of Maxey, where she was born.
I must not altogether pass over the Claypoles. The family may be said to have been founded by James Claypole (his grant of arms is dated 1588), who bought Northborough Manor. His second son, Adam, ultimately heir, acquired also the manor at Lolham, in Maxey parish. This seems to be the same as the manor of Torpel before mentioned. He resided sometimes at Northborough and sometimes at Maxey, some of his children being baptised at one place and some at the other. He died in 1634. He was of Gray's Inn, as were also his son and grandson, both named John. John, baptised at Maxey in 1595, was a follower of Cromwell: he was M.P. for Northamptonshire, and High Sheriff, 1654. His son, John Claypole, also of Gray's Inn, Northborough, and Lolham, married Cromwell's daughter Elizabeth. He was one of the Protector's Lords of the Bedchamber, knighted 1657, Master of the Horse, Member for Carmarthenshire, 1654, and for Northamptonshire, 1656, and Ranger of Whittlebury Forest. But he lived chiefly in London, and seems to have met with losses, for he sold the Lolham estate. His wife died young, in her twenty-eighth year, according to the coffin-plate at Westminster Abbey, where she was buried in August, 1658, less than a month before the death of her father, the Protector. None of their children left any descendants. The Protector's widow found a home with her son-inlaw at Northborough. It is known that Cromwell also used to visit his daughter at her home there ; and there is a tradition that he sometimes came to see her at Lolham, where one of the rooms is still known as “Oliver's room.”
I do not find any mention of Maxey in connection with the fighting during the Civil War in the seventeenth century, beyond a single reference in the Calendar of State Papers in December, 1643 ; after recording that
the Earl of Essex had taken Grafton, in Northamptonshire, and that the King's army is quiet, I read that
some Irish are come with their arms and colours to Maxey.” It is certain that fighting did take place at no great distance off. Crowland, six miles from the end of the parish, and Woodcroft, in the adjoining parish, are two well-known instances; and I think there is evidence of the very unsettled state of the country in the buildings of farmhouses all through the neighbourhood. Many have tablets let into the walls, with initials and dates. We find there was a very general course of rebuilding and restoration going on between 1660 and 1700. Many houses that have no date are yet manifestly of the same period.
I have been much interested in the field-names and place-names in the parish. The enclosure, about 1814, did away with a great number of these ; but by the help of the older men, who would call to mind what their fathers had told them, I have identified a very great number of them, and find this identification a considerable help in elucidating the history of the parish. There has always been a large number of ancient grass enclosures. When the stock was scattered about the unenclosed fields, and in the large extra-parochial district of Borough Fen Common, many of these closes were quite small, only one or two acres, conveniently situated near the houses, where the stock could be placed when brought home from pasture. Some twenty-five or thirty of these remain, and give a singular appearance to the place. They are long strips of grass, close to one another, separated by hedges. They are mostly 250 or 300 yards long, by 25 or 30 broad. Each parish, when putting cattle on the Fen Common, had to mark them with its brand. I have secured four of these old brands, three of which were for Maxey and one for Deeping Gate. Without entering into the reasons for my conclusion, I may say that this study of the place-names has satisfied me that, at the time of the enclosure, the boundaries of the parishes were considerably modified. A system of "give-and-take” was adopted, so as to make the boundaries more regular. The main division of the parish