The Lawton Family
Written By: Leo Lawton
Because Cheshire was wasted in 1067 it is nearly absolute that any landowning family in it were descendants of those who had came from Normandy with William the Conqueror. However, it is during the reign of Richard the Lionhearted between 1189 and 1199, that ancestors of a branch of a present day Lawton family are first recorded in the area. At this time a man named Adam was noted as the owner of a part of Lautune, the other part being owned by the Abbot and Monks of Saint Werburg’s monastery. At the time people had only a first name, and were usually known by where they lived. Thus Adam was known as Adam de Lautune because of his Norman ancestry. Adam had three sons named Adam, Robert, and Richard. Richard, the youngest son, born before 1236, had a son Richard born between 1260 and 1280. That Richard, in turn, had a son also named Richard before 1300. By this time it was decreed that all of the population would adapt a surname for proper identification. Thus Richard de Lautune became known as Richard Lawton.
Richard Lawton III married Cicely Astburie and they, between 1315 and 1330, became the parents of a daughter named Agnes.
Agnes married a man named Thomas Davenport. Upon his marriage to Agnes he became a landowner in Lawton, and thenceforth became known as Thomas Lawton. Thomas and Agnes parented a son between 1330 and 1350 whose name is today unknown.
This unnamed son of Thomas and Agnes had a son named Hugh Lawton born before 1378. Hugh was appointed an archer of the Crown November 5, 1398, in the principality of Wales. He married Isabella, daughter of John Madoc, widow of Ben Kynge Bernys (Barnes). Hugh and Isabella had two sons named Hugh and John, but all three males died before Isabella.
The eldest son, Hugh jr., did not marry nor have children, but the younger brother, John, married Beatrice the widow of Thomas Maddock, and to them a son was born about 1435.
Upon the death of his grandmother Richard became head of the estate. On the 6th of January 1473 Richard was yet head of the estate when he lost a court decision to Hugh Pole over some disputed land. Richard’s wife’s name is unknown, but it is known that they had a son named John about 1470.
John married Eleanor More and they parented three sons. John was known to have been a very wealthy man. Their oldest son, William, was born around 1500. William was in control of the estate when in 1542 King Henry VIII dissolved all monasteries and William, having the wealth to do so, bought the available land. William married Catherine Bellott and they had four sons and five daughters. The second son’s name was John. Born in 1521, John was 21 when his father purchased the monastery acreage. John Lawton, born 1521, married Margaret Dutton, near to the time his father died in 1551. Between their marriage and 1560 they had five sons and a daughter. John died in 1598. Their eldest son, William, was born in 1553.
William married first Maria Wood, and second Mary Maxfield before 1607 when their first child John was born. They also had a daughter Eleanor in 1611, and a son William in 1613. The elder William was known to have added large tracts of land to the Lawton estate before his death in 1617, when John was ten years old.
Upon William’s death, Ralph Sneyd was made manager of the estate, and given the honorary title of Lord of the manor. John Lawton married Ralph’s daughter Clare Sneyd. To John and Clare were born three sons and a daughter, named William, Ralph, John, and Felicia, between 1630 and 1635. In 1647 John paid a huge fine of 680 pounds, and was pardoned for waging war against King Charles I, himself beheaded two years later. His eldest son William, born in 1630, succeeded John, who died in 1654.
William was head of the manor in 1656, when King Charles II spent some time as a guest while awaiting his restoration to the Throne. It was at this time that John Lawton was born, and Charles II, as his Godfather, presented him with a silver drinking cup remarking he had little else to offer.