Select Lightfoot Miscellany


Here are some Lightfoot stories
accounts over the years:


The Rev. Richard Lightfoot’s Memorial in Northamptonshire

The Rev. Richard Lightfoot is considered the forebear of
the Lightfoots
in America.  He was rector of the church of St. Mary the Virgin at
Stoke Bruerne in Northamptonshire from 1601 to 1625.  The
following memorial can be found in the church (transcribed from the

tomb was placed here to the memory of Richard Lightfoot, minister of
the gospel
and rector of this church for twenty-four years, by John Lightfoot, his
son and
heir.  Death quietly and unexpectedly
overtook him while feeding his flock by word and deed.  His
life was short, for it was a long
meditation on death.  Thus he taught
others to live and himself to die.  He died in the year of our
1625, aged
63 years.”



Hannah Lightfoot
and the Prince of Wales

George III
admired the simple goodness of the Quakers and there is an old story,
published in 1770 but much embroidered in the 19th century, that, in
linked his name as an extremely shy teenager of fifteen with that of
Lightfoot, eight years his senior, who had run away from her husband in
and disappeared.  The King, then Prince
of Wales, was said to have organized her abduction and, according to
stories, to have secretly married her and had children by her.

of this was conjecture, which gained
strength as the years passed.  Her mother
had died in 1760 and noted in her will: “I am not certain whether my
daughter be
living or dead I not having seen or heard from her for about two years
past.”  Her husband had remarried in
Wiltshire, describing himself as a widower in 1759.

never did reappear.  She was advertised for
in 1793, apparently
without success.  A portrait, attributed
to Sir Joshua Reynolds, has been linked to her, but without proof.


William and James Lightfoot
and the
Murder of Neville Norway

Detective Charles Jackson could have been a role model
Sherlock Holmes.  His bosses in the London Constabulary told him:
“Go down to
Bodmin in Cornwall and solve this murder mystery.”  That was in
the winter of
1840 and in those days many Londoners would have thought of Bodmin as
the end
of the world.

It was a tough case. A businessman, Neville Norway, had
riding his horse home to Wadebridge from Bodmin fair on February 8th
when he
was attacked.  His body was found hours later in a stream.
His skull was bashed
in and his face viciously battered.

Detective Jackson went first to the place
where the body was found.  He followed a trail of dried blood
spots, a track
made by the dragging of the body, and footprints which he deduced were
made by
two men.  His inquiries led him to a blacksmith who lived in a
cottage next to
James Lightfoot, one of two brothers seen together on the night of the

Lightfoot, said the blacksmith, came home very late on
the night of the
murder.  The blacksmith went on:

“The bedroom wall partitions are very thin and
there are holes in them. I heard James Lightfoot’s wife and child
crying. James
Lightfoot said, ‘Lie still! The folks will hear thee, damn thee!’ The
said, ‘I won’t lie still – they shall hear me and I don’t care if they

Next day Detective Jackson searched Lightfoot’s cottage
and found a pistol
hidden in a hole in a ceiling beam.  He arrested Lightfoot who
immediately made
a statement implicating his brother William.

Their original plan was to waylay
the Rev. William Molesworth from St. Breock.
But when William Lightfoot saw Mr. Norway counting gold and
silver coins
from his purse to finalize a transaction at Bodmin market they decided
waylay him instead.

Dragging Mr. Norway from his horse, William Lightfoot
the pistol twice, but it did not go off.  The brothers then beat
him to death,
dragged his body across the road and rolled it down a bank into

The Lightfoots were
tried at Cornwall Assizes where the jury took only a few minutes to
find them
guilty. The following month, on Monday, April 13th, 1840, a crowd of
gathered outside Bodmin jail to watch the double hanging.

The local newspaper
reported that the prisoners ate their breakfasts with an appetite and
which surprised even their attendants.
Their long association with criminals had never before made them
acquainted with two mortals so indifferent to their approaching death.

Maybe that was because they were the sons of a sexton.


Lightfoots in the 1881 Census

County Numbers Percent
Cheshire    750    18
Yorkshire    660    16
Lancashire    510    12
Cumberland    320     8
Staffordshire    300     7
Elsewhere   1,610    39
Total   4,150   100


The Lightfoot Mansion at Yorktown

mansion overlooking the harbor at Yorktown must have presented an
sight to any ship sailing up the York river from Chesapeake Bay.
It was a
status symbol of the branch of the Lightfoot family that lived in
through most of the 18th century.  A British traveler described it
in 1736
as one “equal in magnificence to any of our superb ones at St.

Philip Lightfoot was known
as “the merchant prince.”  He had moved to Yorktown in 1707 and
his widow Mary lived there until her death in 1775.  When she died
had in fact outlived her husband and all her children.


John Emmanuel Lightfoot

Lightfoot was born in Accrington, Lancashire and made his mark in the
trade.  In the 1860’s, working with his
brother Thomas and his son John, he
developed a process whereby a black was printed on cotton by applying
to the rollers of printing machines.  His
patented aniline black process soon caught on at other printers.  His notes and diaries have been
preserved, together with various business papers.

John prospered as a printer and became
Accrington’s first mayor in 1882.  He
died in 1892.




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