English History

Written by : Leo Lawton

Want some history on a rainy afternoon?

One August, in an archaeological dig the skeletal remains of Richard III were located beneath an automobile parking lot in Leicester, England. So what, you might ask.

It’s like this: He was King Richard III from 1483 through 1485, by virtue of the fact he killed off a couple of kids that stood in his way, but a fellow from over in Wales named Henry Tudor, who didn’t like Richard much, killed him. Henry then named himself King Henry VII as most of the kings back in them days liked Roman Numerals after their names. Old Henry VII had a son born in 1491, who became King Henry VIII upon the death of his father in 1509. Henry VIII promptly married Catherine of Aragon, widow of his elder brother. By 1527 Catherine had but one living child, a girl named Mary. Henry VIII, wanting an heir, asked the Pope over in Italy for an annulment. The Pope hemmed and hawed for several years and then said no. In 1542 the miffed King Henry VIII confiscated all of the monasteries in England, and sold off their lands to the general public.

It was then that Richard Lawton, born about the year 1500, obtained the former monastery lands in Cranfield, Bedfordshire, and he was the Lawton ancestor to most northern New York Lawton’s today.

Would you care for some more rainy afternoon history?

Do you remember Catherine of Aragon who became the first wife of Henry VIII of England, after also having been the first wife of Henry’s elder brother Arthur who died six months after his marriage? Take a guess as to who her parents were. Her father was a man named Ferdinand, from Aragon, and her mother was named Isabella of Castile. Ferdinand happened to be the King of both of these areas which he ruled as separate kingdoms. Ultimately these became parts of what we know as Spain, but that didn’t really exist at the time. Ferdinand and Isabella sent an Italian fellow named Columbus off to the west on a sailing mission in 1492, and thus America was discovered by Europeans. Eight years later Richard Lawton was born. About 1526, in Cranfield, Bedfordshire, Richard married a girl whose last name was Purrier, as her brother John Purrier mentioned her in his will.

During 1527, the same year Henry VIII started his marriage annulment attempt, Richard Lawton had a son named Thomas. Thomas grew up, and about 1552 married a local girl named Joan Wheeler. He and Joanie had two girls and a son they also named Thomas in 1558. Tommie Jr. married Mary about 1580 and they had a son in 1581. So as not to confuse us too badly, and knowing we were already trying to grasp two Thomas’, they named their baby George. It was only three years later that Queen Elizabeth (the daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn), through Sir Walter Raleigh sent a sailing expedition in search of a place to possibly colonize in the “New World.”

Rainy afternoon history three.

After Sir Walter Raleigh had made two attempts to found settlements at Roanoke with no success, in 1607 a colony was established in an area called Virginia reflecting that Queen Elizabeth never married, and thus was known as the Virgin Queen. This status, of course meant Elizabeth had no apparent heir to the throne. Her father Henry VIII’s sister Margaret had married James IV, King of Scotland. James and Margaret had a son, James V, who in turn had a daughter Mary known as Queen of Scots. Mary managed to get her head chopped off at the request of Queen Elizabeth of England, but not before she had a child named James. At the death of Queen Elizabeth, James became King James I of England, while remaining King James VI of Scotland. All of that explains why a river in Virginia became the James River, and why an English colony along the banks of that river established in 1607 became Jamestown. In 1620 Plymouth Colony began far north of Jamestown.

Meanwhile in Cranfield, Bedfordshire George Lawton was maturing on the land his great grandfather had obtained from the confiscated monastery back in 1542. In 1606 he married Isbell Smith. The next year, the same as the founding of Jamestown in Virginia Colony, their son George Jr. was born, followed in 1614 by their second son Thomas. In 1625 King James I died leaving his son as King Charles I. Charles drew England into a war with France. To obtain money for this he issued “Ship Taxes” in 1634, ’35, and ’36. The English citizens had no real choice. They either paid the tax, were conscripted into the armed forces, or made themselves scarce.

George and Thomas Lawton disappeared from Cranfield, Bedfordshire, England along with Thomas’ wife, the former Elizabeth Salisbury, and their daughter also named Elizabeth.