A Darker Past
Beneath the placid exterior of a small country village, there has been tragedy and scandal throughout the ages just like any other place, as the following extracts show.
In 1518 or thereabouts, John Seyton, Lord of the Manor or Maidwell, retained a lawyer, Edmond Haslewood, who deviously conveyed Maidwell to himself and then hired ‘Rent-a-Mob’ – “A number of persons about 140 assembled themselves at Maydenwell and armed with bows, swords, Bills etc., riotously entered the said Manor and stole all the remaining writings and evidence that (Seyton) possessed”.
In 1599 another John Seyton had died in Jerusalem of a broken back while serving in the Crusades.
In 1783 John Willson was executed at Northampton for shooting and wounding (NB not killing) Mr. Hopwood, Churchwarden of Maidwell. And in the same year Elizabeth Nokes of Maidwell was executed for the murder of her child.
In 1797 a Draughton girl called Fanny Moore was murdered in a field below Maidwell churchyard. The murderer was reputed to be Job Norton, a Maidwell farmer’s son, who was himself killed the same year while playing quoits (scarcely the most violent of pastimes one would have thought). Other rumours say that it was the squire’s son of the time that ‘dunnit’. Well, they would, wouldn’t they?
In 1823 Joseph Moore was transported for stealing and breaking Maidwell Hall windows.
In 1824 Sally Pearson drowned herself in the village well opposite the Goat Inn (now the Stag’s Head).
In 1801 William Bradshaw of Manor Farm was found hanged in the farm dairy.
In 1832, as the Manchester Coach was passing through the village at a great pace on its way to London, four of the horses fell down opposite the smithy (now Westaway Motors). Three of them had to be shot by the gamekeeper. No doubt on arrival in London an announcement was made apologising to passengers for the late arrival of the Inter-City service etc. etc.
In 1842 Annie Gardner was whipped at the post against the Chequers Inn for standing on her head while being drunk and sent out of the village for ever. Victorian values at work.
In 1849 a fireball fell near the Goat Inn on May 3rd and exploded with a tremendous crash. According to an eyewitness ‘it rose up and went over the opposite garden wall cracking very loud as it rushed along, followed by the severest hailstorm ever remembered her.’ It entirely wrecked a house, and in the following cloudburst the furniture floated down the main road and into the Cottesbrooke Road.
In 1877 William Measures, a farmer, was found dead on Hopping Hill having fallen off his horse during the night.
In 1884 William Freeman was killed on the railway line by the Harborough train.
In 1910 G. Meakins, head gardener to Sir Reginald Loder, fell and broke his neck while pruning a pear tree.
In 1911 William Johnson got into difficulties while bathing in the Dale Pond and drowned. The tragic irony of this was that he was a sailor home on leave.