Laxton, William (d.1556) (DNB00)

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LAXTON, Sir WILLIAM (d. 1556), lord mayor of London, son of John Laxton, born at Oundle, Northamptonshire, was 'bred a grocer in London' (Fuller, Worthies, 'Northamptonshire'). He rapidly formed a prosperous connection, and became a prominent member of the Grocers' Company. He was elected alderman of Limehouse ward, and sheriff in 1540, when he presided with his colleague, Martin Bowes, at Robert Barnes's [q. v.] execution. In 1544 he became lord mayor, and during his mayoralty a heavy benevolence was exacted by Henry VIII from the city. An alderman who refused to con- tribute was forced to enlist in the army and sent to serve in Scotland. Laxton died on 29 July 1556, at his house in Aldermary parish, and was buried in St. Mary's Church there on 9 Aug. Machyn's 'Diary' (p. 111, Camden Soc.) describes the sumptuous funeral. At the mass next day Dr. John Harpsfield [q. v.] archdeacon of London, preached, and a great dinner was given afterwards, probably by the Company of Grocers. His wife, Joan, daughter of William Kyrby, and widow of Harry Lodlington (Harl. MS. 897, f. 24), was alive in 1557, when she was present at the funeral of Lady White, wife of the founder of St. John's, Cambridge, but the rhyming epitaph on Laxton's monument, quoted by Stow (Survey of London, Strype's edit. 1720, iii. 19), commemorates both husband and wife as if she were lately dead. Laxton died childless, and founded an almshouse and school at Oundle, which is still maintained by the Company of Grocers. The company has lately been able, through the increased value of the Laxton estates in London, to improve the school, adding a new building, and restoring and altering tne old. By the founder's intention the school was to be open to all comers free, boys from Oundle were admitted day scholars, and outsiders taken as boarders. Over the door of the old school are the arms of London, of the Grocers' Company, and of Laxton himself; below these are three inscriptions in Greek, Latin, and Hebrew recording the munificence of the founder, who is also commemorated in the almshouse, where seven old men are still provided for.

[Northamptonshire Notes and Queries, pt. xxvi., and authorities there given.]

E. T. B.