Chapter 2

Chapter Two

OXTON IN OLDEN DAYS

HISTORY and geography are intermingled in every story of the land and its people. Hence the Dover Beck plays a large part in the records of Oxton. It was a rushing stream of water with a flow so great that it drove a dozen water mills which provided the power to grind corn and create the energy for cotton spinning. Perhaps the term Dover Beck reflects the early British and Norse occupation. Forty-four streams in England have the name Dur or Dover, while the term Beck comes from the Norwegian `beck’ and more closely the Danish `boce’, a brook. The names of rivers and mountains are almost universal, and on them the Ancient British races still speak. Oldox (Oxton) shows old works elaborately carried out against some pressing danger, perchance the Roman invasion of which the three tumuli at Grange Farm, Oxton (on the Lowther Hills) or Cwms (Coombs Farm, Farnsfield) are con­spicuous examples. They recall a people exposed to invasion by a hostile force, flushed with success at having come so far inland, guarding themselves with a widely extended system of strategical defence. It is said that Major Rooke discovered relics in the excava­tion of the Oxton Warren and Hills which may have been of British or Roman origin. There is no Roman place-name in Oxton, for they were a marching not a fireside race, whose only place of settlement was a camp or a grave. You will find an ancient Briton on the bank of a river, but you must seek a Roman legionary on some straight road like that which runs for twelve miles from Lincoln to the Humber. A Roman road was like a Roman purpose—straight to the point and continuous.

Salterford, unhappily a place of the past, once had a manor. The addition `ford’ is from Faran, Fogo, to fare, indicating a passage over a stream. Suffixes have an unmistakable Saxon origin—ham (equivalent to home), -ton, -worthy, and -ford. Of these we have -ton in Oxton and -ford in Salterford. We think of the time when Saxon swains drove their herds of swine in autumn to feed upon the acorns and mast. Of such scenes the opening pages of Ivanhoe are very descriptive. To recall the village life of eight or nine centuries ago one cannot do better than consult Sir Walter Scott’s novels. Some of these books were written at Fountain Dale, to which Captmanhurst is adjacent. The word Oxton is euphemistic for Hoggeston, and the scribe in Doomsday Book wrote Aston for Oxton.

From the series of the `Saxon Months’ preserved in the tower of Calverton Church, we can read the story of those hectic days, the early Saxon agricultural pursuits, and we may recall in the medallion on the north pillar of the chancel arch there, the spirit and practice of the Anglo-Saxon Church in Saint Wilfred blessing a serf. Archbishop Thomas had one plough in the demesne of Oxton and one sokeman. A sokeman was the possessor of lands and tenements held by simple service to the lord. One privilege was enjoyed by Oxton sokemen, that of bestowing as they pleased in matri­mony. There is traceable in A.D. 1086 four grades of Oxton village life, the lord, the free sokeman, the villein sokeman and the cottager.[1] It is clear that socage, whether free or villein, was a real privilege to the inhabitants. The free sokeman held the position of the English Yeoman of later years. We read that Saxon tenants, with whom those of Oxton were associ­ated, would not pay the Archbishop any rent. The King had an Oxgang ‘of land in the village. Archbishop Thomas lies at York Minster, having died at Ripon, A.D. 1100. He was distinguished by a missionary spirit, and for that purpose established or augmented the two almonries of Oxton in the ancient collegiate church of Southwell. Before the building of a House of God in a village, missionary priests would come, cross in hand, chanting litanies and singing psalms. There was generally some convenient spot upon which the cross was erected, and there the instructor stood. In later years, when hallowed by use, the locality was chosen as the site of the permanent church. It is possible that the present Oxton Church, dedicated to SS. Peter and Paul, marks such a spot, and the present vicar stands and celebrates where his predecessors did eight or nine centuries ago.

A question interesting and important to Oxton, was in high debate on the fifteenth day of July, 1231, that being the fifteenth year of Henry III. He was a monarch who believed in the divine right of kings, and his forebears had been quick to extend their forestal possessions. This question was agitating the minds of the folk of the district. Although he had previously confirmed the charter of the forests, he no sooner arrived at full age than, by his self-supposed dispensing power, that privilege was cancelled. A combination—perhaps a conspiracy—of all the principal men of the kingdom was formed at once. Four years later, in 1231, things came to a head, and the King’s claims were subjected to investigation, when he reluctantly submitted to an act of de-afforestation.

The story of Oxton in the old days is wrapped up in the records of Blidworth, Farnsfield and Calverton. We may begin with Archers Ground, the large field farmed by Mr. W. Eydes of Forest Farm, Oxton. It is now the last property in the Oxton Parish, running up to the four cross roads on the Nottingham-Ollerton Road. Within living memory it was a lake, a part of the Dover Beck. It was near here that an ill-reputed public house stood. It bore the name of the Four Parishes Inn, since it was supposed to stand in the parishes of Blidworth, Farnsfield, Oxton and Calver­ton. It was close by the drift way, whereon Scottish drovers took their cattle to London from Perthshire. If the tales be true, many a poor Highlandman lies in the bog in the valley between Haywood Oaks and Oxton, or in the quiet lanes. He had been secretly taken from his cattle, and helped out of the world by a villainous contrivance of landlord and lady, who made a bed on pulleys that, on the loosening of the floor, was let down into a cellar of the inn.

Let us revert to A.D. 1231, and observe how dignified were the personages who witnessed King Henry’s signature to the deed under which the parish of Oxton was divided from the Forest of Sherwood. The first was Peter, Bishop of Winchester for thirty-two years. By him was Hubert de Burgh, Earl of Kent, Justice of England and Ireland. To their signatures was appended that of Bishop Jocelyn, Bishop of Bath and Glastonbury, and others. It was a charter of deforestation, which was given at Lambeth rather than Westminster. It showed the influence of the Church as paramount on the side of the people, against an encroaching crown.

At this distance of time it is hard to measure the benefits of this instalment of freedom, but it is good to see men of all parties in Church and State, and of widely differing politics, making this effective. The prelates at Lambeth were setting Oxton free from rigorous laws and making it happy over its own fireside. A great and dignified ecclesiastic was at Oxton in 1242, in the person of Walter de Gray, Archbishop of York, on business of high concern. It was decreed that they were to work for `the maintenance of godly worde, the mynistryng therein of the moste blessyd sacraments, and for to have all dyvyn servis dayle sung’. How little absentee canons could fulfil these local duties, is sufficiently clear. This was an age of the foundation of chantries, and the memory of Thomas Becket, patriot and prelate, was omnipotent. Stephen de Lexington, an able man, high in royal and country estimation, was the first canon (canton) of Oxton in 1242. Two priests, two deacons, two sub-deacons, were cantonists to pray for the souls of their ancestors, to find lights, ornaments, and necessities and twenty-seven pounds of wax for a great light on the Altar on Good Friday and Ascension Day, and thirteen pounds of wax for another, should occasion require. All this was to be done at the altar of Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, and martyr, in Southwell Church.

The canons of Oxton were Lords of two manors to the first year of the twentieth century. The names of Oxton Overhall and Oxton Netherhall are familiar and common, for they have been in perpetual use. The Lords of the Manor of Oxton Overhall are the Ecclesi­astical Commissioners under whom the trustees of the late H. P. Sherbrooke Esq. are lessees. The Court is held in an old house near the church, but there is not much copyhold in Oxton under this Manor. The bulk of the land is freehold, but a considerable area in Calverton and Woodborough is held on the two Manors on a small and certain fine.

The Court of the Netherhall Manor was held in a house of the same name at Woodborough. The trans­fer of copyholds in their local court was made by the handing over of a rod. This ancient observance, implying the owner’s right to cut timber (which none but an owner can exercise) has passed. The cutting of a walking-stick out of a hedge in the presence of witnesses, year after year, in assertion of right, contributed largely to the establishment of a right long in abeyance.

Rates and taxes in Oxton were most interesting. In Saxon times, priests had to pay nothing, and people esteemed the prayers of the Church more than the numbers and strength of an army. A record of the personalty and the sums paid by Oxton men in A.D. 1337 may prove interesting to those who live there in the twentieth century. John de Longvilliers was the head of this assessment in Nottinghamshire, and Oxton was the first visited township in the Wapontake of Thurgarton. We may imagine the visit of the collectors authorized with all formality, and determined to do their duty uprightly, while remembering that Edward III was hard pressed for money. The sums demanded were—

de Johanne de Grange ijs. viijd.
de Johne Darcy ijs.
de Sampsone de Strelley ijs.
de Johne de Luby ijs.
de Willo filio Johannis ijs.
de Christiana de Lede ijs.
de Johanne de Eperston ijs.
de Johanne de Waldershofe xviijd.
de Hugone Brian xviijd.
de Robto Browne xviijd.
de Willo de Crophill xviijd.
de Hen de Haywood Oaks xviijd.
de Thomas de Strelley xviijd.
de Osberto Bercario xvjd.
de Ricardo le Rede xijd.

(The significance of the j at the end of the amounts is tantamount to i. A similar thing is seen in the use of ff for ss in old manuscripts.)
The Grange was the farm and buildings erected by the Canons of Oxton for the reception of their tithes in kind. That their farmer, John of the Grange, paid 2s. 8d., indicated the grange man of some position, The six who paid 2s. each would be on an equal social level, a little under John of the Grange. Ten years after, the taxation amounted to more than double this money.

We regret we cannot tabulate the sums contributed by Epperstone, sometimes written Ebbaston. First on the list there was Ralph, the Chaplain, doubtless the incumbent of the Church of the Holy Cross, a priest of the parish. Then comes Redus William le Carter, and Richard his son. Robert Jois (Joyce), Redus filius Thomae, John the son of Hugh, Richard son of Henry, Radphus, son of Radulphus, John le Server, Robertus Oxton, Roger, son of Thomas, Thomas at the Bridge, Richard, John son of Henry, Johannes at the Bridge, Hugh le Poissonier. The absence of surnames is remarkable. Richard is here, apparently nobody’s son and nobody.

The student of social movements and advocate of progress will find much to interest him in the occur­rences of Oxton life and neighbourhood, and its doings in the earlier part of the reign of Richard II, when the terrible condition of bondmen and bondwomen resulted in rebellion, fomented by John Ball and his friends. The Archbishop of Canterbury was murdered, and a general massacre of all above John Ball’s own rank was contemplated. It was the preliminary to a reign of terror like the French Revolution. The bondage services in the Nottinghamshire villages, Oxton among them, were onerous and severe. Many a cottager was bound, whatever his own necessities, to give his lord some days per week without wage. He was subject to bitter contempt, and home, in a modern sense, he could be said to have none.

There were leading Churchmen who recognized that the poor man, free in Christ Jesus, ought not to be in bondage to any, and therefore gave their serfs their freedom. Nicholas Gosse, subsequently a Canon of Oxton, is an example, and there are those now who are descended from the people enfranchised by him. Green, in his History of the English People, remarks upon the benevolent action of the Church in replacing ancient serfage by free labour. Other churchmen, refusing to relax the ties binding the serf to the land of which he was a `native’, attempted to ameliorate the domestic condition, but some were found advocating a continuance, in all its rigour, of the ancient state of servitude. It is on record that the `bondmen and bond-women, tenants to Henry de Codyngton and John Dandeby, prebendaries of Oxton, in the Collegiate Church of Southwell, these tenants being the men of Oxton, Cropwell, Blytheworth, Calverton and Wood­borough, withdrew their service and tenures’. This probably indicates the action of about twelve years, extending over the period when John Dandeby became possessed of the canonry of Oxton, second part, to Henry de Codyngton, founder of a chantry at Codington, and died possessed of it A.D. 1404.

The movement is connected with the feeling that produced the Peasants’ Revolt, of which it is part and share, and. assumed great local importance, for a com­mission was issued to Adam d’Everingham, Knight, head of the Nottinghamshire forests, and under him to Hugh Newmarche, Knight, Simon de Leek, Knight, Robert Martell, Thomas de Stanton, Geoffrey de Signore, William Cressy, of East Markham, to hear all parties, and all claims of the men of Oxton, Cropwell, Blytheworth, Calverton, Woodborough and Hykeling, and to determine therein.
This is not a mere legal record, but a key to the exasperation prevailing among the most numerous and oppressed members of the community, the labouring classes. That a Royal Commission was issued to sit in Nottinghamshire, where direct and ample evidence could be taken from the bondmen of the soil, indicates that the system of villeinage was tottering to its fall. The poll tax was but the match to the powder that made the explosion. The preaching of John Ball, the invasion of London by Wat Tyler, and a hundred thousand men, who were to level all ranks, put down the Church and establish universal liberty, proves that there were local sympathizers to lend a ready ear and give response to revolutionary proposals that promised to better the peasant’s condition.

Another and more special consideration here comes in. It will be noticed that the tenants withdrawing service are those, not of lay lords, but of ecclesiastics. It was a prevalent doctrine that clergy had no right to their tithes and endowments, except so far as they faithfully discharged their spiritual duties, and to the local mind there was nothing to connect two non-­resident priests (for Henry de Codyngton was Rector of Bottesford, and John Dandeby was Archdeacon of Durham) with any benefit or work of spiritual character done in Oxton or Blidworth. It was much less when the Canons resided at Rome or Milan. The view largely held, and taught by Wycliffe, limiting his views to the priesthood, maintained clerical property to be direct recompense for prescribed local service, and to be for­feited, if service was left undone. Clerical non-residence is, happily, now almost altogether of the past. When a parishioner asked, concerning a local vicar who lived for twenty years in the Isle of Wight, `What’s the good of he to we?’, it was a mental continuation of the feeling of six centuries ago.

As we come lower down the stream of time other incidents call for attention. It must be confessed that the character of the vicars as well as of their parish­ioners does not always secure respect. Thus in A.D. 1472, the churchwardens and the vicar, John Thornton, were summoned to appear in the Chapter House at Southwell. The vicar was found guilty of perjury and ordered `To compurge himself before eleven witnesses’. He lived sixteen years after that, and was succeeded in A.D. 1488 by Richard Taylour. The change cannot have been advantageous, except on the consideration, not im­probable, that he was secretly married, and that his wife, passing in general acceptance, as a niece, was branded by the Church Law of the day, with a less favourable name. He was admonished ne uteretur consortio. He died, a very old man, in A.D. 1534, followed for a short time by William Rowland, whose presentation was not confirmed, and in the next year by William Hopkinson.

We have referred under A.D. 1288-92 to the Valor of Pope Nicholas IV. Until the year 1536 this was taken as the basis of taxation, secular and ecclesiastical. In 1536 King Henry determined in a similar way to make a precedent towards the contemplated dissolution of the monasteries, and so to obtain the value of all the benefices in his realm. The two Oxton canons at this time were William Drageley and John Fitz-Herbert. The Valor then instituted resembles Domesday Book in its severe exactitude of detail. The mode of assess­ment had somewhat altered in 25o years. Here are the details of the value of the Canonries:
A.D. 1536 William Drageley, Canon of Oxton and Crophill, `in ecclesia collegiate predicta de Suthwell’
Having a mansion place of Glebe land of the yearly value
(cornmunibus annis) xiijs. iijd.
Half of the tithe of the parsonage cvjs. iijd.
Half of the tithe in temporal rents of Blidworth,
Woodborough, Calverton and Cropwell £xxviij. xiijs. iijd.
Sir John Byron, Knight, was steward and had for his fee xiijs. ijd

His vicar had the work in the Collegiate Church and— £iiij
The second canonry was filled by Sir John FitzHerbert, who had the second half of the rectorial revenue. His `steward’ was Robert Colleir, `et his vicar T. Byrks has and receives £4 as before declared.’ The vicarage at Oxton was vacant, but the emoluments were:
Vicaria valet.
in a mansion house iijs. iiijd.
iij offering daies xvs.
tith of wooll and Iambe £iiij vis. viijd.
tith of hay vs.
tith of pigges, goose, chekens, hempe and flaxe, fruyte and eggs xs.
The value of the living at Blidworth, the name of the vicar, and the sources of income are given:

`Blidworth, James Alsebrook, vicar there.’ Having a mansion with halfe one oxgang of land in the pasture field— xs.
Woole and lambe iijs. iiijd.
Iij offering daies, oblacons and tithes at Easter— vifs.
Pigges, goose, and chekens xvjd.
Lyne xxd.

As we contrast or combine these statements it is seen that Oxton was the better benefice, but to modern ideas the income is startlingly poor. Money, however, must be measured by purchasing power. The richest fellowship in Oxford in A.D. 1536 was only worth £6 13s. 4d. annually.

The specification of the returns at Blidworth and Oxton are highly illustrative. At Blidworth the vicar had, among other details, a special collecting time, varying with the ecclesiastical year, involving the mystical symbol of the connection of the egg with the Resurrection. It was expressed in `Eggs gathered in Passion Week, two for a Henn and one for a Cock’. The large result from `woolle and lambe’ tithing indicates the national agitation between tillage and pasture. There was what we should now call `a corner in sheep’, and that monopoly was the reason for the Act of Henry VIII, which said in its preamble: `The poor people of this Realm be not able to provide meat, drink, and clothes necessary for themselves. The prices of all manner of corn, cattle, wool, pigs, geese, hens, chickens, eggs, be doubled, and they be so discouraged with misery and poverty that they fall daily to theft and robbery, or pitifully die for hunger and cold, and it is thought one of the greatest occasions of occupying the land from poor husbandmen and using it in pasture and not in tillage, is the great profit that cometh of sheep, which be now come into a few persons hands.’

Sheep farming, as interpreted by these returns from Oxton and Blidworth, had become a leading and an exclusive business. Agriculture indeed suffered. Ten­ants were evicted from profitless farms, and when the fields were converted into pastures, begging, robbery, and starvation were the only alternatives. The rage for sheep appears in the claim of the men of Farnsfield and Oxton to `common’ sheep in Blidworth Forest, an intention promptly and successfully resisted.

There is another item to be remarked upon in each case–linen and flax. Five years before this return was made an Act had been passed to compel the growth of one rood of flax for every sixty acres of arable land. Like all forced legislation, the Act soon passed into desuetude.

One feature of Church life remains to be considered, that is the three `offering daies’, of which Easter was one, when the vicar, as a matter of right, threw himself upon the voluntary sympathy of his people for the augmentation of his resources. Would that the laity of this rural deanery would adopt the resolution of the ruri-decanal conference at Southwell in A.D. 1900, `that in these days, when as a rule clerical incomes have diminished forty per cent, and rates, living, and income tax are so high, that the system of Easter offerings to the clergy should be resumed’. (That the Easter Offerings have now been resumed is well known to all churchgoers.)

By the year 1552, a very troubled period of our history is reached. Various changes in religion had produced general irreverence, and the House of God had become the prey of the spoiler. The dissolution of the monasteries loosened the ties by which religious property was held. Henry VIII had carried on his wars with France by monastical revenue, and it is not surprising that his son’s reign is distinguished by similar pillage. The Churches of England still possessed many ornaments, and Oxton is rich in those that belonged to the dress of the minister and the decorum of divine service. Edward VI had need of money, and `Church goods’ were a ready means of finance. At Oxton, one September morning in A.D. 1552, two men called upon the churchwardens, displaying the King’s commission and demanded for the surrender of their church goods. The parish officers were illiterate men, and in their own words and spelling we learn‑
Inviatorie of all the church goodes mayde the xix day of September yn the sext yeyre of the rayne of Edward the sext by the grace of God, kyng of yngland, ffrance and yrelande kynge defendor of the faith and on erthe under god supream heyd of the churche of yngland.
yn Primis
iij bells in the stepull and a hand bell.
one chalys of sylven and a corpus.
ij cruetts.
a crosse of brass.
a pyxe of brasse.
ij candyllstykes of brasse.
ij halterclothes
ij towells.
a vestment of blew satyn and arrose (amice) to it.
a vestment of greensaye and a robe to it.
a vestment of wite fistian w’oute a robe
a cope of wite fustian.

After this list it will not be difficult to imagine the spectacle of the vicar in divine worship on the Sunday before 19th September, A.D. 1552, and his moulted appearance on the Sunday after!

Similarly treated was Epperstone. The inventory of things abstracted for the use of Edward VI `supream head &c.’ was made by `Sir Charles Wandsbeth, sone of the sayde p’ish churche’, and contained the following

ffyrst a chalyce with the patent to the same.
Item a cope of whyte saten of Bryges.
Item a pyxe of lateen metal with ye ornements thereof.
Item two crewetts of pewter and a payre of censers and one ship of lateen for frankincense.
Item two candlesticks of brasse for the high aulter.
Item two vestments one of greene sylk, another of valvyt, two albys and two anyses.
Item a surplus and two towells.
Item a crosse of copper and one hand bell of bell metal.
Item three means tunable bells, hanging in the stepyl.
Item a chest for the regester booke.
Item two wymples.

Compared with the revenues flowing into the royal coffers from the confiscation of monasteries, this sacking of Oxton and Epperstone was but a gleaning. It is the last instance of Tudor exaction, because there was nothing left to plunder. Many a parishioner would regret the loss of the `tunable bells’, for that kind of English music amounted to a passion. In both the above inventories a pix, or pyxe, is mentioned as in one case of brass, in the other of lateen metal. Metal was in direct contradiction to the canon, which required wood. A pyx is a buxus, or box, and contained the reserved sacrament. It was often made in the form of a dove. Bells have a conspicuous place in our services. A considerable amount of Protestant antagonism rendered confiscation easier at Reformation times. A bell must be christened by a bishop, but any poor priest could christen a child! In some cases the church bells thus forfeited to the young Tudor were redeemed by the parishioners.

It was in A.D. 1514 that a resident of Oxton made a will that showed the religious belief and practice of the time. The vicar, Richard Taylour, was witness to, and probably made, the will of Richard Cowper. The testator began by `bequeathing his soul to Almighty God, and his body to be buried in the Church of the Apostles Peter and Paul, of Oxton’. He also left directions that one pound of wax should be burned around him on the day of his burial, as a symbol of the Eternal Light, an offering to the poor, and to the parish church of Oxton vjs. viijd. He did not forget his vicar, for he bequeathed to him xijd. for any tithes and dues he had not paid.

    
The numerous political and religious changes of the last part of the sixteenth century must have made Oxton a curious place. A dispute in A.D. 1584 induced some young men to set ale poles, a usage that preceded public-house signs, on the top of the church tower. There names were Francis Shaw, John Badger, John Ball, Thomas Catley and John Sherbroke. These ale poles stood before a public-house, fronting the road. There was a special assize of bread and ale which was made by the Canons of Oxton, whereby everyone who brewed ale, whether in a public or private capacity, was compelled to erect stakes or poles to show the inspector or `ale conner’ where ale could be found. The publican added a bush, which explained the old adage `good wine and good ale need no bush’.
In A.D. 1587 the vicar was in trouble, being articled because he did not preach once a quarter according to the royal instructions. In this year, on Sunday, 12th March, there was a quarrel in the church. When the service began, an individual had secured what would now be called a pew, as an exclusive possession, and to assert the undoubted right that the floor of the church is the right in common of all parishioners, without fear or favour, John Saville, Francis Shaw, Robert Sher­brooke, Roger Knowles and John Brownley served an action of immediate ejectment. They were afterwards cited before the authorities for `making a disturbance in the church during divine service’. Such disputes were of Common occurrence at the time. At Caunton, one Sunday, a lady passed from one aisle to the other and `pricked a pin into the back of a fellow-worshipper, whereat she cried out’.

Perhaps one of the most remarkable illustrations of the age, when the most sublime mysteries were treated with contempt, especially in public-houses, is a happen­ing in Oxton Church on 27th June, 1585. A young man known as Thomas Walker, or Custance, and a young woman, Marjorie Ball, surrounded by many equally profane, went through the service of baptism, and dipped a lamb in the font. The matter was dealt with on 28th September following, when they appeared on citation before the Chapter of Southwell. They were ordered to do penance in the church on the following Sunday, and on the Wednesday after the Newark Market as well as on the Thursday following in the Market Place at Mansfield. Local history thus bears witness to the disorders of those times.

In A.D. 1622 was born at Oxton a man of whom the village may well be proud. He was the son of William Jackson, the vicar. Because of his conscience, he was unable to conform. In A.D. 1662, after his ejectment, he taught and preached at Morton and Kneesall, in both places with the reputation of a sober, grave and good man. He died at the age of seventy-four, while his father, an eminently holy man and a good preacher, continued his labours until he was over a century old. The Oxton register testifies that `William Jackson, the oulde vicar, was buried 28th September, 1675, being of the age of an hundred years’.

During the hazy days of the Commonwealth, parish registers proclaim the decadence of true religion. In A.D. 1654, registration was taken out of the hands of the Puritan minister, as he had taken the living out of those of his episcopalian predecessor, and given to a `register’ whose handwriting and spelling were vile. With regard to baptism, the word was to disappear, and from that period a baby was only `born’, so that while at the beginning of the reign of Charles I, not one-twentieth of the English population was un-baptized, at the close of the Commonwealth not one-twentieth had been baptized. To repair this, the service for the `Baptism of those of riper years’ was added to our Prayer Book. This plan gave rise to curious compromises. Thomas Rose, Puritan minister of Blid­worth, had his children entered as `born’, in the body of the register, while on a fly-leaf he records their `baptism’.

A similar slight was put upon matrimony, when the religious and ecclesiastical element was eliminated. The celebration was entrusted to laymen, especially to Justices of the Peace, and on this point we are indebted to the fidelity of the Oxton marriage register for two interesting extracts:

Nathaniel Bode, of Great Ponton, in Lincolnshire, and Sarah Parkinson, of Oxton, in the County of Nottingham, spinster, had their intent of marriage published three several Sondaies in the Parish Church of Oxton, on August sixt, thirteenth, and twenty, in the year 1654., and nothing being objected to the contrarie, were married by and before Thomas Sherbrook, Justice of the Peace, the twenty and second in the same year.

`James Jackson, minister of Arnall, and Ruth Gretton, of Nottingham, were married at Oxton on the 29th November 1659, having first had their purpose of marriage published three several market dayes at the Market Cross in Nottingham, viz: 12th, 19th and 26 daies of November.’

This was one of the last of Justices’ marriages, never popular. The author of the Act, when his own daughter was married, had the ceremony performed according to the rites and ceremonies of the Church of England, and paid the fine of £50o imposed by his own legislation.

[1] These terms are defined in Appendix II

CONTENTS
Preface and Introduction
Chapter 1 – Nottinghamshire in the Olden days
Chapter 2 – Oxton in Olden Days
Chapter 3 -Oxton in the Nineteenth Century
Chapter 4 – The Chapels at Oxton
Chapter 5 – The People of the Village
Chapter 6 – The Charities Parish Church Hall and Village of Oxton
Chapter 7 – The Towns and Villages Roundabout
Appendices

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