A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 5. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1973.
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Croxton is a parish of 1,909 a. forming a projection of Cambridgeshire into Huntingdonshire. (fn. 1) It lies 4 miles east from St. Neots and 13 miles west from Cambridge and measures roughly 2 miles from north to south and 1½ mile from west to east. The soil is heavy, being derived from the underlying boulder clay and, in the south, Ampthill clay. The ground falls from the 200 ft. contour in the northeast to 100 ft. in the south-west at the Abbotsley brook, so that it is better drained than in neighbouring Eltisley. The northern part of the parish is crossed from west to east by the main road from St. Neots to Cambridge, which is crossed at right angles in the west by the minor Abbotsley-Toseland road. The Potton-Eltisley road runs along part of the eastern boundary of the parish. The Gallow brook forms part of the northern boundary and the Abbotsley brook much of the southern boundary. Croxton village street runs south from the main road and having passed through the village becomes a drive to Croxton Park and the church, skirting the west and south boundaries of the original park. Another drive runs north from the mansion to meet the main road, and forms the eastern edge of the old park. It seems likely that the parish once had two nuclei, one near the old manor-house of Westbury at the south end of the village street, and the other near the church and the old manor-house of Croxton.
In 1811 a roadway east of the mansion and church continued the line of the eastern drive and had houses on either side of it forming a village street with the church and rectory near its southern end. (fn. 2) There were springs there, and it seems likely that it was once the main village, with Westbury, as its name suggests, forming an outlier. The village by the church may already have been reduced in size for there are indications that more houses than were shown on a map of 1811 once stood there. (fn. 3) Following inclosure in 1818 the rectory was demolished and an ornamental pool was made on the site. By 1826 all the houses in the area had disappeared, (fn. 4) apart from the mansion, Croxton Park, standing 150 yards north of the church.
Inclosure also affected the settlement at Westbury. A small village green, which in 1811 opened out at the north end of the village street where it met the main road, was inclosed. (fn. 5) A large dwelling-house known as the Downs was built on the western part, evidently soon after 1826, (fn. 6) and a new farmyard was laid out on the eastern part about the middle of the century. Along the street the houses are of various dates from the 17th century onwards but are mostly in the local materials of timber-framed and plastered walls with thatched roofs. Several of those which are of the early 19th century, (fn. 7) including a short terrace, may have been built to rehouse villagers displaced by emparking.
At the south end of the village street and facing a small green, at what may have been the junction of a former roadway to Weald (Hunts.), is a late medieval timber-framed house known as Croxton Manor but apparently the house for the ancient manor of Westbury. It has a hall and cross-wings plan and although modified and repaired on several occasions retains much of its original character. (fn. 8) Westbury Farm, c. 300 yds. to the south-west, is probably an earlier site of the manor. The house incorporates parts of a substantial late medieval building, including an open hall, but has been much altered at several later periods. It lies within the remains of a moat, which is presumably early medieval. (fn. 9)
Other topographical changes followed inclosure. By 1826 the park had been extended some distance to the east of the deserted village street, southwards to include the new pool and the church, westwards to the south end of the village street, and northwards to meet the main road and take in certain old inclosures. That northward extension seems to have obliterated the western part of a trackway which probably ran along the north boundary of the old park joining the two village streets. The footpath leading westwards from the western village street to the site of the deserted village of Weald is perhaps a continuation of the former track which may have been the original route before the new main road was built. (fn. 10) By 1826, too, a new drive had been made leading south-east from Croxton Park, and by that time the topography of the park and village had assumed its modern pattern. The rectory was rebuilt on the main road near the boundary with Eltisley, and two new farm-houses, Hill Farm and Meadow Farm, were built on the inclosed lands. Hill Farm was derelict in 1967. Other larger buildings include White Hall Farm, (fn. 11) the Spread Eagle inn, not built in 1826 but there by 1841, (fn. 12) and the 16th-century Manor Farm. (fn. 13)
The name Croxton includes the Scandinavian personal name Krókr and may, with Caxton and Toft, have formed part of a late Scandinavian settlement in that part of the Danelaw. (fn. 14) In 1086 some 23 peasant families occupied the parish. (fn. 15) In 1279 65 individuals were recorded as customary or free tenants in Croxton. Since two were specifically named as being of Gamlingay and of Eltisley, most of the others probably lived in Croxton. They shared some 50 different surnames, including two or three denoting occupations. (fn. 16) Evidently the population had increased since 1086. The subsidy of 1327 was assessed on 44 persons sharing 30 distinct surnames. (fn. 17) Since marginal land went out of cultivation between 1290 and 1341, there may have been some contraction of population in the early 14th century. (fn. 18) The poll tax of 1377 was payable by 117 people at Croxton. (fn. 19) In 1525 38 people paid the subsidy. They shared at least 32 separate surnames, (fn. 20) suggesting a community of between 32 and 38 households. In 1563, however, there were said to be only 25 households. (fn. 21) In 1666 and 1674 37 and 38 dwellings were recorded. (fn. 22) In 1676 there were 128 adults. (fn. 23) By 1728 30 or 40 families were said to include from 120 to 140 'souls' in Croxton. (fn. 24) In 1755, however, there were said to be 50 families in the parish. (fn. 25) That figure had fallen by 1801 when the 43 families, living in 34 households, comprised 171 people. By 1811 the number of families had fallen further to 33 and population to 150. (fn. 26) Such a decline in the 18th century would accord with the apparent economic decline and increase in poverty about that time. After inclosure in 1818 population rose again. In 1821 there were 38 families and 225 people. From then population showed a rise every ten years until 1871, except in 1851, when a decrease from 264 in 1841 to 236 was ascribed to the mansion being unoccupied and to emigration overseas from the district. By 1871 a peak of 308 was reached. The agricultural depression beginning in the 1870s, however, coincided with a decline. Each subsequent census year has seen a smaller population returned for Croxton. In 1961 it stood at 155. (fn. 27)
Manors and Other Estates.
The chief manor of CROXTON, rated at 6 hides occupied before the Conquest by three men of Earl Alfgar, who could all dispose of their land, was held in 1086 by David de Argentine. He had recently been deprived of it for a time by Eustace de Lovetot, sheriff of Huntingdon. (fn. 28) Subsequently, by stages that have not been traced, the manor passed to the Vernons, lords of Chinnor (Oxon.), and in the 13th century was reckoned as part of the honor of Chinnor, which they held soon after 1086. (fn. 29) Walter de Vernon had land in Cambridgeshire by 1158. (fn. 30) His father Richard had given Croxton as a marriage portion to Cecily, Walter's wife. (fn. 31) Isabel, their daughter, had by the 1190s married Ralph Sanzaver (sine averio), (fn. 32) of a Sussex family, and Croxton passed to their descendants. (fn. 33) In 1199 Isabel's ancestors were said to have held land at Croxton since the Conquest. (fn. 34) The Vernons soon afterwards lost the overlordship. Walter de Vernon's Oxfordshire lands were in the king's hands between 1194 and 1198. (fn. 35) He was later said to have been deprived of them for refusing to serve against the French under King John, (fn. 36) who in 1203 granted the honor of Chinnor to Saher de Quincy, later earl of Winchester. (fn. 37) Although he may temporarily have forfeited those lands after joining the rebelling barons in 1217, (fn. 38) the overlordship of Croxton was still said in 1279 to belong to his earldom of Winchester. (fn. 39) In 1314 it was said to be held of Miles de Langtoft's heirs. (fn. 40)
Ralph Sanzaver occupied the manor in 1210, (fn. 41) but was probably dead by 1217, for his son Hugh then had his lands restored to him after they had been forfeited for his adherence to the barons against King John. (fn. 42) Hugh was alive in 1248, (fn. 43) but probably died soon after. His son Ralph was living in 1271. (fn. 44) Ralph's son Hugh died in 1284. Hugh's son Ralph (fn. 45) settled Croxton in 1295–6 upon John Helpston and his wife, (fn. 46) probably as part of a marriage settlement, for Ralph died seised of it by their gift in 1314. His son and heir Ralph (fn. 47) died between 1342 (fn. 48) and 1346, when his widow Elizabeth was holding the manor for life, presumably as her dower, with remainder to her son Thomas and his wife Elizabeth. (fn. 49) Thomas was dead by 1349, when Sir Henry Hussey died holding certain Sussex lands of his widow Elizabeth. (fn. 50) The younger Elizabeth subsequently married Sir Ralph Spigurnel (d. 1372). By 1377 Henry Hussey, grandson of Sir Henry, had conveyed his interest in her estates, in Cambridgeshire and elsewhere, after her life-interest should expire, to Sir John Arundel (d. 1379). (fn. 51) Elizabeth died in 1407, (fn. 52) and by 1412 Croxton had come to Arundel's grandson, John Arundel, Lord Maltravers (d. 1421). (fn. 53) His son John was recognized as earl of Arundel in 1433, and Croxton descended like Great Gransden manor (Hunts.) in his family. (fn. 54) One William Beauford had a life-interest in the estate in 1430, (fn. 55) and in 1455 Eleanor, widow of Walter, Lord Hungerford (d. 1449), formerly wife of John, earl of Arundel (d. 1435), died seised of a third in dower. (fn. 56) In 1546 the manor was sold to Sir Richard Sackville, (fn. 57) chancellor of the Court of Augmentations (d. 1560), (fn. 58) under whom Francis Hinde held it c. 1550. (fn. 59)
In 1571 Sir Richard Sackville's son, Thomas, created Lord Buckhurst and later earl of Dorset, sold the manor to Dr. Edward Leeds, (fn. 60) who after an active career in church and state had in that year retired from the mastership of Clare College, Cambridge. (fn. 61) Dr. Leeds died in 1589, and was succeeded by his younger brother John's son, Thomas, who died in 1622. (fn. 62) Thomas's son and heir, Edward, died, aged 93, in 1680, having survived his son Anthony (d. 1676), whose son Edward probably succeeded him and died in 1704. (fn. 63) The manor was then inherited by Edward Leeds, a London merchant, son of Edward, a vintner of London (d. c.1678), son of Edward Leeds (d. 1680). Edward, the merchant, died in 1729. His son Edward, an eminent case-lawyer and serjeant-at-law, died in 1758, leaving a son Edward, also a lawyer (d. 1803), (fn. 64) whose brother and heir Joseph died in 1808. (fn. 65) Joseph was succeeded by Sir George William Leeds (cr. Bt. 1812) who was lord of the manor in 1811. Before 1818 he conveyed the Croxton estate to trustees. (fn. 66) In 1825–6 it was purchased by Samuel Newton of Bangor (Flints.), descended from a Liverpool merchant. (fn. 67) Samuel Newton died in 1848, (fn. 68) having survived his son George (d. 1837), whose son George Onslow Newton owned the manor until his death in 1900. His son George D. C. Newton (cr. Lord Eltisley in 1934), who acquired the rectory estate in 1926, died in 1942, leaving as heir his daughter Myra, wife of Sir G. W. G. Fox. (fn. 69) Lady Fox owned the estate in 1966.
When Edward Leeds acquired the manor in 1571 a manor-house already existed. He is said to have built a new house on the same site c.1574. (fn. 70) The present house, Croxton Park, was built in 1760–1 by Edward Leeds (d. 1803) probably incorporating part of its Tudor predecessor. Of red brick it has three stories with nine bays, a parapet, and a porch supported by six Ionic columns. (fn. 71)
By the 14th century there was in Croxton another estate, then called WESTBURY manor, the origins and history of which are obscure. At the time of the Conquest the second estate in Croxton, rated at a hide, had been held by two of the king's sokemen in return for carrying services performed for the sheriff. By 1086 it had been granted to Hardwin de Scalers who had subinfeudated it to Adelulf, (fn. 72) probably the Adelwold the Fleming whose granddaughter Hawise married Geoffrey son of Swein, who held a hide at Croxton as 1 knight's fee of Stephen de Scalers in 1166. (fn. 73) In 1236 the manor was held by John de Scalers, probably of a cadet line of Hardwin's house. It was still rated at a hide and then also at ¼ fee. (fn. 74) In 1279 Geoffrey of Spartgrave, a free man, was holding land for ⅓ fee of John de Scalers, who held of Richard de Freville, heir to half the Scalers barony. (fn. 75) That estate probably became the later Westbury manor. The connexion with the Scalers family is not, however, mentioned again. In 1519–20 Westbury manor was said to be held of Lord Ferrers of Chartley, and in 1600 of Sir Richard Dyer. (fn. 76) A statement in 1508 that the manor was held of the earl of Arundel, (fn. 77) then the tenant-in-demesne of the chief manor of Croxton, was probably incorrect.
Another estate, for which Richard de Caen was paying in the 1180s to have his rights acknowledged, (fn. 78) and which was held c.1230 by Werry de Caen and c.1236 by Lucienne de Caen, being then rated as ⅓ fee and 1½ hide, (fn. 79) may also have gone to form Westbury manor, or else was merged in the chief manor.
An estate even more probably identifiable with the later Westbury manor is that which in the later 13th century was held by the Charles family. In 1274–5 Charles son of Charles settled a manor in Croxton on Thomas Charles, probably his son, Joan, Thomas's wife, Alice their daughter, and Alice's heirs. (fn. 80) In 1279 Thomas held what was apparently the second largest estate in Croxton in socage. (fn. 81) Although it was then declared to be held of the earldom of Winchester, which would imply that it had been part of the Vernon fee, (fn. 82) it is more likely (fn. 83) that it was the same as the Scalers manor. Thomas was an old man by 1306 (fn. 84) and presumably died soon after. His lands possibly devolved on Edmund and Alice Seymour, who were settling a manor in Croxton on themselves in 1312. (fn. 85) Edmund was said to be the lord of that manor in 1316. (fn. 86) In 1346 John Seymour conveyed it under the name of Westbury manor to Geoffrey Seman of Cambridge, (fn. 87) who had been purchasing land in the village in 1330. (fn. 88) It was in 1346 on a 12-year lease to Reynold, Lord Grey of Wilton (d. 1370). (fn. 89) In 1363 John Goslek of Gosthorp and Sarah his wife conveyed the manor to Thomas of Eltisley. (fn. 90) In 1392 Thomas Malyns of Blunham (Beds.) and Emma his wife settled it on themselves. (fn. 91)
In 1508 Florence Ashfield, widow, died seised of the manor, having devised it for a term of 20 years to her servant Nicholas Furnage. Thereafter it was presumably to remain to her heir, George, her grandson. (fn. 92) George was dead by 1520, (fn. 93) when the wardship of his son Robert (fn. 94) was granted to Thomas Howard, duke of Norfolk (d. 1524). (fn. 95) In 1542 the manor was settled on Robert, then presumably of age, and Cecily Gardiner, widow, possibly his mother, in tail male. (fn. 96) In 1557 Robert and his wife conveyed part of it to William and Robert Cosyn (fn. 97) and part to Thomas Sutton. (fn. 98) Cosyn, who died in 1560, was succeeded by his son Thomas (fl. 1575– 87). (fn. 99) By 1589 Westbury manor was held by Edward Cosyn, who died in 1600 and was succeeded by his son John. (fn. 100) John Cosyn (d. after 1624) settled the manor in 1610 on his son Edward upon the latter's marriage. (fn. 101) Edward died in 1652, and his son and heir Edward (fn. 102) after 1665. In 1668 John Cosyn sold the estate to Robert Heylock (d. 1673) of Abbotsley (Hunts.). Heylock's estate passed to his brother, William (d. 1688), whose heir was his nephew Henry Kingsley (d. 1712). Elizabeth, daughter of Henry's son Heylock Kingsley, married William Pym and brought him the Kingsley estate. The Pyms seem to have sold their Croxton property c. 1789 to a Mr. Bacchus, (fn. 103) who is said to have sold it to Joseph Leeds in 1806. (fn. 104) The Revd. W. Pym held some land in the parish in 1818. (fn. 105) Two houses that were apparently successively the manor-house are mentioned above. (fn. 106)
A hide in Croxton, confirmed to Huntingdon Priory by Henry I in 1124–9, (fn. 107) may have been part of the lands with which its founder, the Domesday sheriff of Huntingdonshire, Eustace de Lovetot, (fn. 108) endowed the house. Lovetot appropriated the chief manor (fn. 109) and on its restoration to the Argentines a fragment may have remained in his hands. In 1279, however, it was asserted that the priory estate in Croxton, then estimated at a messuage and 70 a., was held of Hugh Sanzaver under the earl of Winchester. (fn. 110) In 1200 Ralph and Isabel Sanzaver contested the priory's rights to the estate (fn. 111) but quitclaimed the lands to it in 1202. (fn. 112) The Sanzavers' right to nominate a canon to a place in the priory may represent a compromise then reached. (fn. 113) They were, however, still trying to extort certain services in 1236. (fn. 114) In 1291 the property was valued at £2 16s. 6d. (fn. 115) and in 1538–9 at £3 18s. 8d. (fn. 116) By 1322 it was being described as a manor. (fn. 117)
After the priory was dissolved, the Crown sold its land in Croxton, of which 100 a. was leased to John Saunders and 80 a. to William Ratford, in 1545 to William Breton and Thomas Herbert of London. (fn. 118) In 1549 Breton sold the whole estate to William Ratford, (fn. 119) who came of a long-established Croxton family. John Ratford had a sheepfold there in 1344, (fn. 120) a William Ratford occurred in 1434, (fn. 121) and William and Robert Ratford paid tax there in 1525. (fn. 122) William Ratford, the purchaser, probably died c.1557. (fn. 123) His lands were subsequently divided. William Ratford, perhaps his son, who held in 1574 180 a. besides the 100 a. once occupied by Saunders, divided his share before his death in 1588 between his sons William and Robert Ratford. William received the 180 a., much of which he dispersed by sale c.1596, Robert the 100 a., (fn. 124) which passed at his death in 1616 to his son William. The latter sold the land c.1622 to Francis Brooks, whose son John conveyed it in 1639 to Thomas Milward and he in turn in 1649 to Nathaniel Purcas, of whom it was purchased in 1661 by Edward Cosyn, and so merged in the Westbury estate. (fn. 125) Another 90 a. of priory land passed from William Ratford (d. c.1557) to his son Clement, who died in 1599 and was succeeded by his son Clement. (fn. 126) The latter survived his son Clement, and upon his death in 1635 left as heir his grandson Clement, (fn. 127) who held the 90 a. by 1649, and sold them c.1669–73 to Robert Heylock, so that they also descended with the Westbury estate. (fn. 128)
About 1197 Ralph Sanzaver claimed, in right of his wife Isabel, one hide in Croxton from Ives Quarrel. Ives asserted that his ancestors had held the land of Isabel's ancestors since the Conquest, and eventually in 1202 Ralph confirmed the hide to Ives at the accustomed rent. (fn. 129) In 1236 a hide in Croxton was held by Ives Quarrel, and was ascribed, probably incorrectly, to the Scalers fee. (fn. 130) Its subsequent fate is unknown.
ECONOMIC HISTORY. In 1086 there were two estates. On the larger, David of Argentine's manor of 6 hides, half the hides were farmed in demesne and the other half by tenants. On the demesne there were 2 ploughs, while 7 villani, 7 bordars, and 2 cottars had 3 ploughs. The estate had meadow for 9½ ploughs, pasture land, and fen or marsh yielding 500 eels a year. The Scalers estate, rated at 1 hide, had demesne land for one plough, and other land, held by 5 bordars and 2 cottars, for half a plough. There was meadow for 1½ plough, and pasture. (fn. 131)
By 1279 there were four estates in Croxton. The capital manor, held by Hugh Sanzaver, had in demesne a messuage of 8 acres, 220 a. of arable, and 5 a. of pasture. Hugh's estate had 22 villein tenancies, 5 consisting of 20 a. each, the rest of 10 a., and 8 cottagers all owing boonwork but paying rent instead of week-work. Their cottage holdings varied between 1 rood and 8 a. each. Four could offer a money payment in place of work at the hay harvest. In addition there were 13 free tenants paying rent, 8 of whom held 20 a. or more each. Thomas Charles had in demesne a messuage of 2 a., 100 a. of arable, 1 a. of meadow, and a windmill. There were 14 customary tenants, 4 with 20 a. each and 10 with 10 a. All owed week-work as well as rent, although the week-work could be commuted. Of 3 free tenants attached to that estate, one had 40 a., one 60 a., and one 2 a. One of them had also four tenants of his own with small holdings of ½ a. to 10 a. for which they paid rent. On the prior of Huntingdon's manor of some 70 a. there were 6 customary tenants all owing boon work and paying rent. The fourth estate, held by Geoffrey of Spartgrave, consisted of 3 messuages and some 110 a. There were 6 tenements, two held by Geoffrey's son, and all owing rent, but apparently no services. One tenant had 3 under-tenants of his own, also owing rent only. Of some 65 people then holding land at Croxton about 16 or 17 were free. (fn. 132) In 1327 most of the 44 people taxed at Croxton paid less than 2s., but 13 who paid between 2s. and 4s. and 4 who paid over 4s. were perhaps successors to those freeholders of 1279. The tax levied on Croxton in 1327 came to £4 12s. 5d., more than that on any other parish in the hundred except Bourn, Gamlingay, Kingston and the Eversdens. (fn. 133)
Although the parish was predominantly arable in 1279, as appears from the relative proportions of land in the demesne, sheep were also kept there in the 13th and 14th centuries. (fn. 134) In the early 14th century, however, there was, as in neighbouring parishes on the Cambridgeshire upland clay land, some contraction of the arable, for 100 a. of marginal land had gone out of cultivation between 1290 and 1341, reducing the value of the tithe. (fn. 135)
Two open fields were recorded in 1564, North field and South field. (fn. 136) In 1574 and in the 17th century the parish was divided into three fields. (fn. 137) North field, covering c.436 a., occupied most of the area north of the Cambridge road, called by 1811 Woodway field after a furlong in it, but also included areas south of that road, lying east and west of the main block of closes around the village. That to the west was called the Brache in 1574 and White Hall field in 1811, that east of Croxton Park was known in 1811 as Mill field after a windmill standing there. Bannam field, covering c.415 a. in 1574, stretched along the south-eastern side of the parish, and probably then reached the Bannam dean brook, which, however, it crossed at its southern end. The south-western third of the parish was occupied by Meadow field, amounting to c.444 a. By 1811 the name of Meadow field had been extended to cover Bannam field also. In 1811 the open field land amounted to 1,276 a.
The village meadow, called in 1574 Lady Mead, probably lay towards the southern end of Meadow field. (fn. 138) From the early 17th century additional pasture was provided by leys made in the open fields. (fn. 139) In 1661 the glebe included 2 a. of leys in Bannam field and 2 leys in Meadow field. (fn. 140) In 1637, moreover, the court ordered that two poles' width of land should be left 'ley and unploughed' along the boundary with Great Gransden to be fed with the town herd and other cattle for ever. (fn. 141) Some strips in the fields were also inclosed between 1574 and 1651, presumably for pasture. (fn. 142)
Apart from those small closes, the inclosed land in the parish lay by 1811 in three main blocks. The largest, c.320 a. including the 38 a. of the old park, consisted of the ancient closes around the village, bounded on the north by the main road, on the west by the Abbotsley road, and on the east by Mill field. Many were by then emptied of habitations, though some were still occupied by cottages. The block called the Downs, already existing in 1574, and covering in 1811 c.158 a., lay along the western boundary of the parish, separating Meadow and White Hall fields. The third block, called the White Hall closes, and presumably centred on White Hall Farm, occupied the north-west corner of the parish, and covered in 1811 c.120 a. It also probably existed in 1574. The size of the inclosures varied. Many were small, a few exceeded 20 a. (fn. 143)
In the 16th century the villagers were divided into labourers, probably landless, smallholders, and a smaller group of wealthier yeomen. Of 38 persons paying the subsidy in 1525, 15 were assessed only on their wages, and one on land worth £1. Thirteen were taxed on goods worth between £2 and £4, and eight on between £5 and £10. The prosperous John Adams was assessed on over £20, a sixth of the supposed £125 worth of movables in the parish. Eight others had between them over half of that figure. (fn. 144) The landed property was similarly concentrated in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. The Ratfords and Cosyns, owners of former manors, had estates often exceeding 100 a., (fn. 145) and other yeomen also accumulated land. Thomas Sutton owned c.45 a. in 1574, his son added 30 a., and his grandson 20 a. Edward Brooks, rector from 1623, built up an estate of c.100 a., (fn. 146) and his successor Thomas owned c.190 a. in 1692. (fn. 147) The lords of the manor also increased the proportion of the parish which they controlled directly. In the mid 16th century many copyholders were induced to exchange copyholds for terms of years or life for leases, (fn. 148) and between 1574 and 1651, up to 280 a. formerly held by copyhold or on long lease was taken into the lord's own hands. (fn. 149)
In 1664 nine households, probably of the yeoman class, were rated on houses with 3 hearths or more, besides the manor-house of 9 and the rectory of 6 occupied by the Leeds family, but seven dwellings assessed on only one hearth were doubtless those of labourers, besides those exempted, whose inclusion in 1666 probably accounted for the increase from 24 to 37 households. Of 38 households taxed in 1674 21 paid only on one or two hearths, while of 10 houses not then assessed all had only one hearth, and several of their occupants were regularly receiving poor relief. Thus the labouring class probably comprised at least half the population. (fn. 150)
The engrossment of land continued during the 18th century. Three freeholders remained outside the two main estates in 1724, (fn. 151) but by 1806, following the purchase of the Westbury estate, the Leedses of Croxton Park owned virtually the whole parish, except for the glebe, which was probably leased to them. (fn. 152)
The agriculture of the village remained largely in the traditional pattern in the 1790s, when old inclosures used for pasture were said to amount to 400 a., but only c.100 a. of them were 'improved' and the rest remained 'in a rough and neglected state'. (fn. 153) In 1802 one farm in Croxton included 53 a. of inclosed land, and another, probably White Hall Farm, of 135 a. was said to be 'principally inclosed'. (fn. 154) In 1801 939 a. were under crops, divided in roughly equal proportions between wheat, barley, oats, and peas and beans. No potatoes or turnips were being grown. (fn. 155) Inclosure was needed to improve husbandry, and especially to improve the stock. About 1792 1,000 out of 1,400 sheep fed on the undrained open fields had been lost by disease. (fn. 156)
An inclosure Act was obtained in 1811, and the lands allotted the same year, though the award was only made in 1818. Sir George William Leeds was allotted 942 a. to add to the 582 a. he already owned of the 601 a. of ancient closes. The Revd. Woolaston Pym received 2 a., and the miller a small plot around the mill, but the only other substantial estate was that of the rector, who was allotted c.349 a. for his tithe and glebe. Moreover in 1812 William Sanderson, then rector, leased his newly made allotment to Sir George, who was his patron and son-in-law. (fn. 157) That land, later called Rectory or Hill farm, was finally merged with the Croxton Park estate by its sale to the Newtons in 1926. (fn. 158)
The Leeds estate, excluding c.106 a. of park and wood lands, was divided by 1826 into five farms, Manor farm, covering 329 a., Westbury Hill farm, covering 317 a., White Hall farm, covering 291 a., Meadow farm, of 282 a., and a Home farm of 116 a. (fn. 159) The first three were based on old-established farmsteads in the village: that of Manor farm stood in the old inclosures east of the park. New farm-houses for Meadow farm, as also for Rectory farm, were built away from the village shortly after inclosure. (fn. 160)
After the inclosure the population consisted almost entirely of tenant-farmers and their labourers, who suffered severe distress after the peace of 1815. About 1816 many farms were left unoccupied, and Sir George Leeds spoke of the complaints of the half-starved labourers. (fn. 161) They had little alternative employment. In 1811 27 families out of 33, and in 1831 39 families out of 51 were chiefly occupied in agriculture. (fn. 162) About 1830 wages in the parish were 9s. for single and 10s. for married men, and 3s. to 7s. for those under 20. Nevertheless the 30s. rent for labourers' cottages included gardens, and 7 a. were available in lots of ¼ a. or ½ a. for them to rent. (fn. 163) In 1851 there was emigration from the district, and in 1861 the whole area was said to suffer from the lowness of wages. (fn. 164)
In 1841, apart from the farmers and 36 agricultural labourers, there were a miller, a publican, a baker, a blacksmith, a carpenter, a gardener, and 2 gamekeepers. (fn. 165) In 1851 the five farms in the parish employed between them only 28 out of 35 labourers living there, the rest presumably working casually or elsewhere. Westbury farm then covered 315 a., Rectory farm 300 a., White Hall farm 280 a., Manor farm 270 a., and Meadow farm 248 a. (fn. 166) The last was farmed by the Pentelow family between 1841 and 1879, and Westbury farm by the Risbys between at least 1858 and 1879. The Manor farm was let to tenants in 1829–31 and in 1851, but may later have been farmed directly by the Newtons, its owners, as was perhaps White Hall farm, let between 1841 and 1853, but occupied in 1861 by the Newton's land steward, and probably worked with Manor farm. (fn. 167)
The village probably fared ill during the agricultural depression. Between 1872 and 1881 the rector returned a fifth of the rent to his tenant at Hill farm, and in 1897 the condition of the inhabitants of Croxton and Eltisley, almost all considered to belong to the labouring class, was said to be very bad. (fn. 168) There were two farmers in Croxton in 1900, but apparently none resident there in 1933, when the estate was managed by Sir George Newton's agent. (fn. 169) In 1925 there was regular agricultural employment for 39 men and youths, and 13 men and 20 women furnished casual labour. (fn. 170)
No mill was mentioned in Croxton in 1086, but two windmills were recorded in 1279. (fn. 171) A windmill was mentioned in 1314, (fn. 172) 1571, (fn. 173) and in the early 17th century (fn. 174) as belonging to the chief manor. In 1633 two windmills were recorded. (fn. 175) The windmill marked on a map of 1826 to the east of the Manor farm-house, in what had been Mill field, (fn. 176) had been there as early as 1769 and probably before. (fn. 177) It was acquired by the Newton family after they bought the manor, and in 1855 was described as a corn grist mill. (fn. 178) It had disappeared by 1891, (fn. 179) and in 1930–1 there was no windmill in Croxton. (fn. 180)
In the 1230s Ralph Sanzaver and Philip de Columbers are named as lords of the manor having view of frankpledge. (fn. 181) Philip does not in fact seem to have been lord of a manor in Croxton but may have been tenant of Westbury manor. In 1279, however, Hugh Sanzaver was the only person in Croxton holding view of frankpledge, (fn. 182) although in 1298–9 the prior of Huntingdon was claiming such a right by prescription, (fn. 183) presumably over his tenants there. The lord of Croxton was entitled to maintain a gallows in 1299. (fn. 184) By the early 17th century a court leet with view of frankpledge meeting twice a year belonged to the Leeds family, lords of the manor. (fn. 185) Records of their court survive from 1560 to 1722. Its jury of copyholders continued to develop manorial custom. In 1584 they denied that a copy granted to a man and his assigns was heritable, but in 1591 reversed their verdict. In 1620 amercements made at the court were being divided equally between the lord and the repair of the church. The court continued occasionally to regulate agriculture in the parish until the mid 17th century. In 1685 it chose two field-reeves and a hayward. In 1664 it was ordering expenditure by the constables on the common pound. (fn. 186)
Churchwardens', constables', and overseers' accounts exist in a dilapidated state for the period from 1659–1753. (fn. 187) During that period there appears to have been one constable; (fn. 188) in the 17th century there were two overseers but from 1700 at least there was only one. From 1660 to 1706 the yearly expenditure on the parish's poor seldom exceeded £10. From 1710 to 1740 the average outlay was over £15, rising to over £30 in 1736, and from 1742 to 1753 it was usually between £30 and £40. The number of poor perhaps increased despite a possible decline in population, but was, as yet, small. In 1663 over £9 was spent on four people, three of them widows. Also there was a rise in the normal weekly dole from 6d. in the 17th century to 1s. in the 18th. Moreover the costs of removing paupers might swell the expenditure in individual years. Thus in 1732 removing one woman from the parish accounted for £11. (fn. 189) The late 18th century saw a considerable rise in poverty. At Croxton the sum spent on poorrelief in 1776 rose from £72 to an average of £90 a year in 1783–5. In the year 1803 £147 was spent on the permanent outdoor relief of 19 persons and the casual relief of 5 others (fn. 190) in a population of only 171. In 1816 £103 was spent on the poor, in 1817 £122 and in 1818 £120. Following the inclosure in 1818 £150 was expended in 1819. (fn. 191) From 1820 to 1822 the average was c.£125, and in 1823 and 1824 expenditure fell to £100 and £75, (fn. 192) but in the later 1820s it rose again. In 1829–30 Croxton laid out £198. At that time a system of making up the low wages of the labourers from the poor-rates had been adopted. (fn. 193) In the early 1830s Croxton was spending an average of £268 on its poor. (fn. 194) The parish became part of the Caxton and Arrington poor law union in 1834, (fn. 195) and in 1934 was transferred from the Caxton and Arrington R.D. to the Chesterton R.D. (fn. 196)
A church in Croxton is first mentioned c.1217, (fn. 197) and parts of the existing fabric of the church are 13th-century. The cap of a 12th-century respond incorporated in the north porch, however, indicates the existence of an earlier church. (fn. 198) Originally the advowson was in the hands of the Sanzavers. In 1337 it was disputed with Ralph Sanzaver by Henry, Lord Grey of Wilton (d. 1342), perhaps as occupant of Westbury manor. (fn. 199) In 1454 the patron was John Wood (d. 1484), under-treasurer of the Exchequer, who was speaker of the Commons in 1482, and Treasurer in 1483–4. (fn. 200) Wood still held the advowson in 1476. (fn. 201) In the early 16th century it was again in the hands of the lord of the manor, for the earl of Arundel presented in 1523. (fn. 202) In 1546 it passed with the manor to Sir Richard Sackville, (fn. 203) but in 1553 was exercised by lapse by the bishop. (fn. 204) From 1573 (fn. 205) down to the 20th century, however, the right of patronage was exercised by the Leeds (fn. 206) and Newton (fn. 207) families, successively lords of the manor.
The rector did not enjoy all the tithes of the parish. In the mid 12th century Geoffrey son of Swein had granted 2/3 of the tithes of the hide he held to St. Neots Priory. (fn. 208) In 1229 the priory claimed also that it had long received 2/3 of the tithes of the demesnes of Sir Hugh Sanzaver and Werry de Caen. The rector appealed to the Pope, and under a compromise reached in 1231 the priory farmed those tithes permanently to the rector for 2½ marks a year, (fn. 209) which it was receiving in 1291. Payment had to be enforced on the rector in 1347. (fn. 210) After the Restoration the Crown sold the 2½ marks pension to John, earl of Radnor (d. 1685), whose successors continued to receive it. (fn. 211) Huntingdon Priory also apparently retained 2/3 of the tithes of its Croxton estate, which were worth 5s. in 1291: (fn. 212) for after its dissolution the subsequent owners of that land paid the rector a tithe of only 1/30. That arrangement was still nominally in force in 1812, although in practice the Leeds family, who had long been lessees of the tithes, included them in the rent paid by their tenant-farmers. (fn. 213)
The living itself was taxed at £13 6s. 8d. in 1217, but at £10 in 1254, and though its valuation was pushed up to £24 in 1276, it was valued at only £16 13s. 4d. in 1291. (fn. 214) In 1535 its net value was said to be only £14 8s. 6d. (fn. 215) In the 17th century the glebe consisted mainly of c.32 a. of arable land and some meadow, lying in the common fields. (fn. 216) In 1728 the tithes were said to be let 'to everybody his own at £100 a year'. (fn. 217) Immediately before inclosure in 1818 the glebe included an enclosure of 3 a. and a 2 a. plot, on the east of the church, upon which the rectory stood. At inclosure the rector received in place of tithes a compact estate of 311 a. For his glebe and common rights he received c.38 a. north of the main road, near Eltisley, upon which the lord of the manor, Sir George William Leeds, erected a new rectory as part of the inclosure agreement. (fn. 218)
At first after inclosure the net yearly rent of the land allotted for tithe was £350, which was said to be low because the costs of inclosure were met by the lessee. The income, however, fell further. In 1826 it was reckoned to be £300 gross, and in 1827 £203 net. (fn. 219) At various times between 1831 and 1861 the living was valued at £185 net. (fn. 220) The gross annual income of the living between 1872 and 1881 was said to be £336. (fn. 221) In 1896 rent was said to bring in only £118. (fn. 222) In 1926 Hill Farm, which from the first had been leased, often to the Newtons, was sold to Sir George D. C. Newton. (fn. 223)
Few of the medieval rectors are known to have been absentees; but one was licensed in 1338 to lease the church for four years, (fn. 224) and another granted in 1377 licence for one year's absence and in 1391 for three years' absence with permission in each case to farm the church. (fn. 225) Between 1557 and c.1570 there was a lay rector who resided in London or Cambridge. He was said to be 'a B.A., and not apt at preaching'. (fn. 226) In 1573, soon after he acquired the manor, Edward Leeds (d. 1589) was himself instituted rector, (fn. 227) although in 1584 he presented another cleric to the living. (fn. 228) Leeds had been chaplain to the reforming Bishop Goodrich of Ely, who had employed him in destroying altars and other 'superstitious' items in the diocese. (fn. 229)
In 1623 Edward Brooke (or Brooks) was presented to the rectory. (fn. 230) In 1645 he contributed to the 'Scotch loan' of that year, (fn. 231) and was said in 1650 to be 'painful in his ministry'. (fn. 232) In 1657 Edward Leeds (d. 1680) presented to the living his youngest son, John (d. 1704). (fn. 233) Little is known of the religious life of the parish in the later 17th or early 18th century. Edward Leeds (d. 1729), lord of the manor and patron of the living, was however a prominent dissenter who permitted Presbyterian meetings to take place at Croxton Park. (fn. 234) Communion was celebrated only three times a year about 1727, and there were only fifteen communicants at Easter. (fn. 235) The rector at that time was, nevertheless, resident. (fn. 236)
The rector c.1787 was a college fellow and presumably an absentee. (fn. 237) The patron at the time, Edward Leeds (d. 1803), was said to be 'a pragmatical mortal', 'impertinent to the clergy', who took every opportunity to revile the church. (fn. 238) In 1807 both the rector, who lived at Longstowe, and the curate, who resided at St. John's, Cambridge, were absentees. The parish was served by the curate of Caxton who resided at Little Barford (Hunts.) while the Croxton curate served Caxton. (fn. 239) Communion was then only celebrated quarterly and there were but eight communicants. There was no Sunday school, although it was claimed that children were frequently catechized. (fn. 240)
Thomas Kidd, rector 1814–50, was until 1835 both a pluralist and an absentee. He was vicar of Eltisley from 1814 and successively second master at Merchant Taylors' School, and headmaster of Lynn School, Wymondham Royal Grammar School, and Norwich School from which he retired in 1834. Reputed 'too good for this world' and a scholar of some repute he found on taking up residence after 21 years of absenteeism an average of six communicants and in the parish 'a strong disinclination to come to the Holy Table', despite celebration only four times a year. Kidd found himself unable to change this attitude, and reported that his churchwarden 'a respectable publican and farmer' only appeared in church 'now and then'. (fn. 241) In 1851 only one service a week was held, alternately in morning or evening. When held in the afternoon it attracted an average of 95 adults, but morning services only brought in 40. (fn. 242) Not all may have been really Anglicans for by 1881 most dissenters in the parish attended church, since there was no chapel, and were said to bear the church no hostility. (fn. 243) In 1896 there were only eleven communicants. (fn. 244) At that time some 80 per cent of the families in the parish were dissenters. (fn. 245) Nevertheless by 1896 there were a church reading room, a parish library, and a parish magazine. Communion about that time was held monthly. (fn. 246) A church institute for Croxton and Eltisley was opened in the early years of the 20th century. (fn. 247) The living has been commonly held since Kidd's time with that of Eltisley (fn. 248) and was so held in 1966.
The church of ST. JAMES (fn. 249) is situated close to the present manor-house and at the south end of the former village street. It has a chancel, nave with aisles and north porch, and west tower, all of medieval origin, and is built mainly of field stones. The notably short chancel and the nave, which with its aisles forms a square of 42 feet, were built in the late 13th century. Most of the architectural features of that date have been replaced in the course of later alterations, but the nave arcade, the west windows of the aisles, the north window of the chancel, and the south doorway are all original, as is the piscina in the south aisle and the bowl of the font. In the late 15th century major alterations took place, new windows were inserted into the south wall of the chancel and the east and side walls of the aisles. Diagonal buttresses were added to the aisles and a twostoreyed porch was built to the north doorway. Probably a little later the west tower and its wooden spire were built, (fn. 250) possibly replacing an earlier tower which housed the surviving late-14th-century bell. That relatively short period of building activity was represented internally by the placing of wooden screens around the east end of both aisles, by seating in the nave and north aisle which is integral with the screens, and possibly also by the no longer extant chancel screen. Surviving fragments suggest that a quantity of stained glass was put in at about the same time.
During the next century and a half the only additions to the fabric were a series of monuments in the chancel to members of the Leeds family, the most notable being that to Edward Leeds (d. 1589). In 1644 William Dowsing had a crucifix and 20 superstitious pictures destroyed. (fn. 251) By contrast the incumbency (1657–1704) of John Leeds was a period of repair and improvement. In 1659 the roofs of the nave and aisles were reconstructed, (fn. 252) in 1665 the altar rails were ordered to be restored, (fn. 253) and at about the same time a west gallery and new communion table were installed. The steeple was restored in 1682 and a new clock, regulated by the then newly invented pendulum escapement, was placed in the tower. (fn. 254) The 18th century was a period of renewed neglect. The north porch and the spire, which were still there in 1748, (fn. 255) do not appear to have lasted the century. Apart from the second bell the only new fitting was the pulpit, and although the church was in good condition c.1727 (fn. 256) by the late 18th century it was damp and dilapidated. (fn. 257) Joseph Leeds is said to have put it in complete repair and releaded the roof in 1806, (fn. 258) perhaps one of the reasons why the church escaped the early attentions of the Cambridge Camden Society. In 1869 the west gallery was removed, the sanctuary was raised by a wooden platform, and new choir stalls were erected. (fn. 259) The chancel east wall was also rebuilt. In the early 20th century extensive improvements were made. The wall of the south aisle was rebuilt in 1904, and the west window in 1905. In 1907 the wall of the north aisle was repaired and a new north porch erected utilizing stones from a buttress constructed from the stones of an earlier porch. In 1916 the tower was struck by lightning and both tower and roof were in need of repair in 1919. (fn. 260) In 1921 a new rood screen was erected (fn. 261) and in 1923 the sanctuary platform was removed and the chancel paved with stone. (fn. 262)
The church had two chalices, one with paten, in 1552. (fn. 263) In 1783 plate consisted of a silver cup, two silver dishes, and a pewter flagon. (fn. 264) By 1919, however, there was no ancient plate and the two chalices, two patens, and a flagon then held had been presented in 1843. They were still in use in 1966 together with a paten of 1705. (fn. 265)
In 1552 there were four bells in the steeple and a sanctuary bell; (fn. 266) in 1635 there were said to be five bells (fn. 267) and in 1665 and again in 1678 a broken bell was ordered to be rehung. (fn. 268) In 1936 there were six bells: (i) 1687, Toby Norris of Stamford; (ii) 1761, Joseph Eayre of St.Neots; (iii and iv) 1804, Robert Taylor of St. Neots; (v) c.1390, William Burford of London; (vi) 1624, W. Haulsey of St.Ives. (fn. 269) The registers are complete from 1538 and are in the rector's hands.
There were said to be no dissenters, Roman Catholic or protestant, in Croxton in 1676. (fn. 270) In 1715 Edward Leeds (d. 1729), lord of the manor and mercer of London, was, however, a prominent dissenter. His son Edward (d. 1758) married a dissenter. (fn. 271) In 1715 a congregation of Presbyterians met in Edward Leeds's house at Croxton, and Richard Dix, the Independent, preached to a congregation of about 80 in Croxton. (fn. 272) Bishop Green in 1728 thought that there were only two or three Independents in Croxton itself, (fn. 273) but two years later a house was licensed for worship by protestant dissenters. (fn. 274) Of 50 families in the parish in 1755, ten were said to be protestant dissenters, (fn. 275) but in 1783 only one family and one man were reputed to be dissenters. (fn. 276) In 1825 two families of farmers were Independents and there was one family of Baptists. (fn. 277) In 1881 most nonconformists attended the parish church although some went to Eltisley chapel. (fn. 278) The situation had completely altered, however, by 1897 when only seven out of 40 households were said to attend the parish church, the rest attending the chapel at Eltisley. (fn. 279)
There was a schoolmaster in Croxton in 1608 (fn. 280) and 1635. (fn. 281) In 1677, however, there was no schoolmaster 'public or private' in the parish. (fn. 282) A charity school, in association with the S.P.C.K., was in existence by 1705, when the Revd. John Leeds left a £6 rent-charge for a school to teach the poor children of Croxton to read and write and say the catechism. (fn. 283) In 1708, it is said, a dissenter settled £8 a year on a church school in Croxton, probably the same one, for the education of 15 poor children. (fn. 284) In 1708 the churchwardens undertook work at the school-house, (fn. 285) and by 1716 there was a school with 15 boys, (fn. 286) which still existed in 1748 (fn. 287) and in 1783. (fn. 288) Numbers remained at 12–15 until 1818, when the poor were said to be 'desirous of the means to give their children education', but the Leeds charity was no longer paid and the school was neglected by the schoolmaster. Teaching took place in a school-house in Eltisley, which is not otherwise recorded. Probably the neglect of the school and charity was largely due to the ignorance of the curates. (fn. 289) Soon afterwards the charity day-school died out altogether (fn. 290) and the £6 from the Leeds charity was applied to a dame's Sunday school, (fn. 291) which had probably succeeded a Sunday school in existence by 1788. (fn. 292) In 1819, 25 children attended it, (fn. 293) and in 1826 it was converted into a day-school, supported by the lord of the manor, Samuel Newton, who allowed one of his cottages to be used as a schoolroom. In 1833 the day-school had 24 pupils taught by a mistress who received £12 a year. By 1837 30 boys and girls were taught reading and the catechism, and it was then intended to add writing to the syllabus. (fn. 294) In 1851, of 42 children in the village aged between 5 and 11, 31 were at school, as were 4 over 11. The schoolmistress was the wife of a farm labourer. The labourers were more inclined to send their daughters than their sons to school. (fn. 295)
A new school was built in 1869 by George Newton who let it rent-free. Newton also paid the schoolmistress's salary of £50 a year. It was a mixed schooland fees varied from 1d. a week from the children of labourers to 6d. a week from the children of farmers with more than 80 a. (fn. 296) Annual parliamentary grants were received from 1872. (fn. 297) The £6 rent-charge from the Leeds charity, which was regulated in 1907 as the Leeds Educational Foundation, was still being paid to the school-teacher in 1952. (fn. 298) That Croxton school, because of its connexion with the Leeds charity, was a church school caused some feeling in the parish in 1897 when two-thirds of the population were nonconformists, who wanted popular control of the school. (fn. 299) Not until 1928, however, was it transferred to the county council. (fn. 300) The school served Eltisley as well as Croxton and the vicar complained in 1897 that it was inconveniently situated, being too far from either village. (fn. 301) Attendance at the school, despite the decline in population, rose from 49 in 1872 to 117 in 1896, but thereafter declined to 33 in 1938. (fn. 302) In 1897 education in the two parishes of Croxton and Eltisley was said to be very backward, few adults being literate. (fn. 303) After 1826 the Sunday school continued, though probably solely for religious instruction. It was held in the church and all the teachers were voluntary. (fn. 304) A night school, held in the winter in the reading room in 1881, (fn. 305) was perhaps the same as the boys' evening continuation school which existed by 1900 and survived in 1920. Instruction was at a very elementary level and in the early 20th century there were few pupils and poor attendance. (fn. 306)
Charities for the Poor.
The Leeds charities (fn. 307) originated in the bequests and donations of various members of the Leeds family in the 17th and 18th centuries. Anthony Leeds, by will in 1676, bequeathed a 30s. rent-charge to be equally divided between the poor of Croxton, the poor of Toseland, and the minister of Croxton for a sermon on St. Anthony's day. Before 1698 Edward Lively left £40 for the poor of Croxton. When he died £13 6s. 8d. was distributed among the poor and the rest was left as a permanent fund. Edward Leeds added £13 6s. 8d. to the fund in 1729 and the Lively charity was absorbed into the rest of the Leeds charities. The Revd. John Leeds, by will proved 1705, besides leaving money for a school and for the organist and parish clerk, left £2 12s. a year for weekly bread for the poor and £1 a year to be given in bread or ale to anyone who would accompany the minister and churchwardens in beating the bounds of the parish. The residue of his estate was invested, and the annual yield, £3 4s., was spent on the poor of Croxton. In 1729 Edward Leeds, besides supplementing the Lively charity, bequeathed £25, the interest to be spent on coal for the poor. Elizabeth Leeds (d. 1697) gave £20, the annual income of 20s. to be divided equally between the poor of Croxton and Toseland. Martha Leeds (d. 1672) also gave £20 for the poor of Croxton. William Leeds (d. 1690) (fn. 308) left £40 of which £20 was to be distributed on his death and the rest invested and its 20s. annual yield given to the poor. Joseph Leeds (d. 1808) bequeathed £200 to the poor of Croxton. Half was to be distributed in blankets, coal, and money after his death and half was to form a permanent fund. Sir George William Leeds added £100 to the permanent fund, yielding £8 a year.
As early as 1698 an attempt was made to combine and simplify the Leeds charities by buying land with £120 from the various bequests and using the rentcharge arising from it for the charities. In 1826, presumably as part of the sale of the estate, Sir George William Leeds conveyed 42 a. of land to Samuel Newton subject to a rent-charge of £32 7s. Of that sum £22 10s. was paid in 1837 to the Croxton poor, £18 4s. in coal, £2 12s. in bread at Easter, and £1 14s. in money for very poor persons. The rest of the £32 7s. was paid to the school, minister, parish clerk, Cambridge prisoners, and Toseland poor. The part relating to Cambridge prisoners was regulated by a Scheme of 1884, and that concerned with the school by a Board of Education order of 1907.
By will dated 1815, Abraham Fricker bequeathed £100 for weekly bread for the poor. In 1837 the charity yielded £3 a year which was administered with John Leeds's charity for bread. Fricker's charity yielded £2 10s. in 1961. James Richard Powell, by will proved 1904, devised his estate in trust to be sold, the interest on the proceeds to be used for the poor of Croxton and Eltisley; in 1961 the income was £8. In 1933 Constance Amelia Cochrane conveyed two cottages and gardens in Croxton as alms-houses for the aged poor or sick of Croxton, and by her will dated 1934 she endowed each cottage with £125.