The Craxford Family Magazine Red Pages

{$text['mgr_red1']} Cottingham 1

Page 3a. Welcome to the Welland Valley: Cottingham and beyond

ON TO Page 3b. Family stories from Cottingham

ON TO Page 3c. Gretton and its people

The crucible of our family tree

The Spread Eagle Inn

The Crown and The Spread Eagle Inns, Cottingham. A watercolour by Cyril Loake

ADC, site administrator

Alan Craxford Site Administrator

Welcome to Northamptonshire. This landlocked county lies to the south of the East Midlands of England, its county town being Northampton. About three times longer than it is wide, it lies on a south west to north east axis between its principal neighbours, Leicestershire and Rutland to the north, Cambridgeshire to the east and Bedfordshire and Oxfordshire to the south. Our genealogy studies in this part of the world are mainly concerned with families who have lived, worked and died in two particular Northamptonshire settlements: Cottingham and Gretton.

The Welland Valley lies to the north of the county adjacent to the borders of Leicestershire and Rutland. A wide 'U' shape in contour with a steep southern escarpment, the River Welland cuts an easterly path through the soft marshy clay of its floor on its way to the sea. It is not surprising that the local combination of geography and geology was an attractive proposition for Iron-Age man. The fertile soil supported dense forests, teeming with game and, together with the iron-bearing sandstone beds, provided those early settlers with all the basic requirements for their existence: food, fresh water, and raw materials for building and toolmaking. Many villages and hamlets appeared during this time. It is known that a rocky outcrop on the southern slope called Rockingham Hill was used as a natural fortress which overlooked the valley. The Roman colonisers established a mining community to exploit the mineral deposits. Later, during the Dark Ages the Saxon tribes used the old hill fort to defend themselves against the marauding Viking and Danish invaders. (1).

It was after the Norman Conquest that the Welland Valley became of national strategic importance. William the Conqueror confiscated the lands and estates of the Saxon noblemen and built a series of castles around the country to impose his rule. Rockingham Castle became a firm favourite as a meeting centre and place of retreat for the court outside of London. He declared Rockingham Forest (which, as well as woodland, provided areas of grass and parkland vital for grazing deer) to be a Royal Hunting Forest. The area had also attracted the attention of the church. William granted the confiscated manor of Lyddington, which lay some five miles north across the valley just over the border in Rutland, to the Bishop of Lincoln and over the following two centuries it was developed into their palace (2). This proximity served as an intermittent but ongoing source of tension between the church and state and as early as 1095, the Council of Rockingham was convened by William II where all the bishops and barons debated the compatability of the Church's allegiance to both pope and king. This interface remained unchanged until the reign of Henry VIII when his activities led to the dissolution of the monasteries and acquisition of church property. He was not unfamiliar with this section of England as parts of the nearby town of Melton Mowbray were given to Anne of Cleves (his fourth wife) as part of the settlement on the annulment of their marriage (3). In the 1540s the Palace was surrended to the crown and at the same time the now derelict Castle was leased and subsequently sold to Edward Watson who had been secretary to the bishop at Lyddington.

The village of Gretton lies some three miles to the east of Rockingham. The name is Saxon for Great Settlement although traces of Iron-Age and Roman excavations have been found. It was a royal manor during the 11th century, the same period in which St James the Great Church was built. It became an important settlement within Rockingham Forest during the Middle Ages, and its development and economy were founded on the twin occupations of agriculture and ironstone quarrying (4). The village of Cottingham lies in the shadow of Rockingham Castle. Immediately to the west is the hamlet of Middleton with which it has a shared history. The name 'Cottingham' has Anglo-Saxon origins, with ham meaning town or settlement and ing denoting a tribal leader's sons, dependants or followers. Cottingham therefore literally means 'homestead of Cotta's people', Cotta ('or Cotti') having been an Anglo Saxon chief. The spelling of Cottingham has varied throughout history too. There are references to Cotingeham in the Domesday Book and Cotingham in the Anglo Saxon Chronicle. In the 1162 and 1166 Pipe Rolls there are references to Cottingeham and, in the 1343 Inquisitiones Post Mortem, Cotyngham and Cotynham. From at least 1066, the country's parishes were split into administrative districts called 'Hundreds'. In 1086, Cottingham lay within the Stoke hundred which was subsequently merged into the Corby Hundred (5).

The 1600s was a tumultuous century in English history punctuated by wars (three against the Dutch and the English Civil War), invasions, pestilence, famine and the ongoing conflict between church and state. No fewer than six monarchs sat on the throne punctuated by a two decade period as a republic.

The English Civil war raged between 1642 and 1646 - a conflict between the forces of the king, Charles I, and parliament. The populace of Northamptonshire was predominently parliamentarian in sympathy. Much of the actual fighting in the East Midlands occurred west of the county on a line between Oxford and Lichfield with the final battle occurring at the village of Naseby. Armies gained recruits through volunteering: there was no conscription (6). However the population was expected to pay to support their local garrisons (such as the one at Rockingham) and provide food, horses and shelter for the troops. When this fell short of expectations, both armies resorted to theft and pillage of the countryside. Although there is no evidence that Gretton was directly affected, it has been noted that Brigstock in the Rockingham Forest was afflicted not only by heavy taxation but by plunder of cattle and illegal ploughing up of the park (7).

It was against this backdrop that the first Craxford appeared in the annals of Gretton about 1620 and the dynasty was founded.

References can be found at the bottom of column 3

Alan D. Craxford - Site Administrator

Continued in column 2...

Meet the editors

Janice Binley, UK

Janice Binley

Janice Binley Associate Editor

My interest in our three combined families started over 20 years ago when Robert Binley, the great, great grandson of Charles Robert, brother of my great grandfather Jeffrey, contacted my mother for information for his Binley family tree. Robert had traced our branch back to 1600 to William Binley from Monks Kirby, Warwickshire where we believe our ancestors originate from. It is also possible that prior to then some of the Binleys may have come from Hampshire, but records are difficult to trace.

In the late 1980s I began a Binley tree of my own, but as I obtained more information I realised that we were very much entwined with Tansleys and Jacksons and our old family photograph album suddenly became alive when some of the names I had discovered were featured in there. From that point on it was a natural progression to include all three families in my tree in the hope that I could more accurately document and illustrate some of our past for future generations. Our ancestors still have descendants living in both villages and many other parts of England and it may help any who are interested to understand their roots and a little of how life in Cottingham and Middleton was in the 19th century.

It was during the summer of 2011 that I was put in touch with the Extended Craxford Family Web site by Irene Beadsworth (a member of another long-established Cottingham family). I had been trying to work out how we were linked to the Craxfords because I could find no trace of them through my own sources. The site mentions a lot of people that I am related to, albeit in the dim distant past. I had high hopes of two Beadsworth / Binley unions (Ernest with Grace Rosina and Ann with Edward) being the link. Then when the Claypole line was thrown into the mix, alongwith the details of the small neighbourhood of Blind Lane and Barrack Yard, the scope of the task began to emerge.

Since then, Alan and I have discovered that our respective trees have been more and more deeply enmeshed over many generations. It seems that every new addition to the database is linked in some way to both of us. Even though we are not genetically related, we have even discovered that we are both first cousins (twice removed) by marriage to the protagonists of one of our recent articles.

I was born and raised in Cottingham, as was my stepfather, Cyril Loake, before me. After he had retired in the 1980s, he jotted down his recollections of the village from the past in a notebook which he illustrated. I am pleased to be able to share his notebook within these pages. He was also an accomplished artist and his painting of the Inns of Cottingham adorns the head of this page.

A Welland Valley Roll Call

Over time, as our investigations have proceeded, we have come to realise that no one family can be meaningfully studied in isolation. Trees touch and branch, join and rejoin, across the generations through marriage and new birth. The interrelationships between individuals can only be fully appreciated when surnames are traced between cousins and along female lines. This is particularly true when the families belong to a small community such as a village.

We have been fortunate that, for Cottingham at least, records are available for study going back to the early 1700s. In this section, we repeatedly come across the same few surnames, albeit with changes of spelling over the centuries. Some date back to the earliest records. The first Craxford appears to have arrived in the village about 1750. The chart below lists the most common.

  Surname Count
1 Tansley 146
2 Crane 134
3 Claypole 110
4 Binley 81
5 Tilley 75
6 Beadsworth/Beesworth 67
7 Bamford 41
8 Jackson 40
9 Craxford 39
10 Bradshaw 27
11 Jarman 20
12 Chamberlain 18
Our surnames for Cottingham, Northamptonshire and Middleton, Northamptonshire

  Surname Count
1 Clipson/Clipston/Clipstone 52
2 Moore 47
3 Walpole 6
4 White 5
5 Freeman 4
6 Pain 1
Our surnames for Geddington, Northamptonshire

Stories of village life


The entanged family trees and an introduction to kinship. Articles about the residents of Cottingham


An introduction to the beginnings of the Craxford family, the skin trade, and the spread to Rutland and London

Continued in column 3...

Please contact us

email If you have any questions or comments about the information on this site in general, or you have further information regarding this article, please Get in touch. We look forward to hearing from you.

Cottingham Stories: The Village

The old smithy: Access the article BACK TO OUR ROOTS: VISITS TO COTTINGHAM
Although the earliest parts of the churchyard nearest to the church are overgrown, the newer sections provide areas of quiet contemplation amongst the memorials.

St George: Access the obituary IN MEMORIAM: MARY ANNE NEEDHAM (née Beadsworth)
"And the Glory of the Garden it shall never pass away!"

The Binley Cottage: Access the article THE BARRACK YARD PRESERVATION SOCIETY
Water initially had to be carried from the pump situated on the pound, but certainly in the 1950s there was water laid on in the scullery over the kitchen sink.

"A week or so later a pigeon settled on the new pot when Fred happened to be passing with his gun ... and the lady needed another new chimney pot.."

Cuttings from Cottingham: Access the article THE COTTINGHAM DISPATCHES
Each page contains notices from several years and they have been sorted into sequence below. For ease of reference, a list of the surnames and the number of times each appears is included below the image.

The 1760 will: access the article JOHN CRAXFORD, LABOURER OF MIDDLETON
"Nextly I give unto my Daughter Mary Croxford, the Sum of Twenty pounds of good Lawful money to be paid to her when coms to the age of Twenty one years old"

William's' Will: Access the article THE WILL OF WILLIAM CRAXFORD (1803)
"My daughter Mary should be permitted to live with my said wife so long as she chooses ..."

Further afield: Web sites of interest

There are several other families resident in Gretton and other villages in the neighbourhood whose trees have historically intertwined with ours. More will be added here as they come to our attention.

For our first entrant, we note the marriage of Lucy Craxford and William Liquorish in Gretton January 1847. Pilotted by Philip Lickorish their ample branches are charted in "The Liquorish Family" website.

The front page of this site leads to four other sections including a fully illustrated guide to the village of Gretton in Northamptonshire edited by Maurice Kellner and the Gretton Local History Society site supervised by Elisabeth Jordan. She has been very helpful on a number of occasions in pointing out directions of research and study into the family name. The illustration is "The Green, Gretton", from an original watercolour by Sheila Macadam © 1998.


1. Pre-Norman Rockingham in "Rockingham Castle: 1000 Years of History." by Basil Morgan and Peter Brears: Heritage House Group 2005
2. Early history in "Lyddington Bede House" by Charmian and Paul Woodfield: English Heritage 1998
3. 14th Century - Local Government under the Guilds: Melton Mowbray Town Estate
4. A Walk Through Time In Gretton: The Rockingham Forest Trust
5. Cottingham - Name, size and location: A history of the village of Cottingham, Northamptonshire.
6. "1643: Civil War in the Midlands" and "1645: The Storming of Leicester and the Battle of Naseby": British Civil Wars, Commonwealth and Protectorate The First Civil War - 1642-1646
7. "The War, the people and the absence of Clubmen in the Midlands 1642-1646" by Simon Osborne 1994; Chapter 10, The English Civil War: The Essential Readings, edited Peter Gaunt: Pub: Wiley-Blackwell Oxford 2000

Page added: December 2nd 2011
Last updated: October 14th 2015

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