Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 32.djvu/306

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Laxton
Lay
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(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 the 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.


LAXTON, WILLIAM (1802–1854), one of the authors of the ‘Builder's Price Book,’ son of William Robert Laxton, surveyor, by his wife Phœbe, was born in London, 30 March 1802, and was educated at Christ's Hospital. He was a citizen of London, a liveryman of the Haberdashers' Company in 1823, and an active member of the City Philosophical Society. Brought up as a surveyor, he evinced a great love for his profession, and made himself master of every department. He surveyed and laid down several lines of railway, and was connected with the Hull and Selby, London and Richmond, Surrey Grand Junction, Hull, Lincoln, and Nottingham, Gravesend and Brighton, and Lynn, Wisbech, and Ely railways. Hydraulic engineering was his favourite pursuit, but a work on this subject, which he had designed and for which he had prepared extensive materials, he did not live to write. He constructed water works at Falmouth and Stonehouse, in which he introduced many improvements, and with Robert Stephenson was joint engineer of the Watford water company for supplying London with water from the chalk formation. In October 1837 he projected and established ‘The Civil Engineer and Architect's Journal,’ a monthly periodical, which he himself edited. He soon after purchased a weekly publication, called ‘The Architect and Building Gazette,’ and after conducting it for some time united it to the ‘Journal.’ A work which originated with his father, and was then conducted for thirty years by Laxton and his brother, Henry Laxton, was the ‘Builder's Price Book,’ which was a standard work in the profession and in the courts of law, and circulated all over the kingdom. Laxton was the surveyor to Baron de Goldsmid's estate at Brighton, where he laid out a large part of the new town in the parish of Hove, and designed and built many of the houses. From the period of its formation in 1840 he was surveyor to the Farmers' and General Fire and Life Insurance Company. He died in London, 31 May 1854, and was interred in the family vault in St. Andrew's burying-ground, Gray's Inn Road. His only son, William Frederick Laxton, was called to the bar at the Middle Temple, 26 Jan. 1854, and died in 1891. Henry Laxton succeeded to his brother's surveying business.

Laxton was the author of ‘The Improved Builder's Price Book,’ containing upwards of seven thousand prices, also ‘The Workman's Prices for Labour only,’ 3rd edit. 1878; the previous editions were by Robert Laxton. This work was afterwards continued annually as the ‘Builder's Price Book.’

[Civil Engineer, July 1854, pp. 270–1; Gent. Mag. August 1854, pp. 199–200; Builder, 8 July 1854, p. 361.]

G. C. B.

LAY. [See also Ley.)

LAY, BENJAMIN (1677–1759), eccentric opponent of slavery, was born of quaker parents at Colchester in 1677. After a scanty education he was bound apprentice to a glove-maker, but before he was eighteen he went to work on his brother's farm. Soon afterwards he turned sailor and made a voyage to Scanderoon, taking a trip into Syria. He returned home about 1710, married, and settled in Colchester. He seems to have busied himself in public affairs, and is said to have presented to George I a copy of Milton's tract on the way to remove hirelings out of the church. He annoyed his fellow-quakers by his repeated opposition to the ministers, and in 1717 was removed from the body; but he continued to profess quaker principles, and seems to have regularly attended meeting. In 1718 he emigrated to Barbadoes and commenced business as a merchant. He became interested in the condition of the slaves, whom he fed on Sundays and tried to benefit by addressing them and their masters. Having incurred in this way the hostility of the slave-owners, Lay removed in 1731 to Philadelphia. He built a cottage near the town and lived in an eccentric manner. Shortly after his arrival, in a moment of anger, he slaughtered an intrusive hog and nailed its quarters to the posts at the corners of his garden, but he experienced such remorse for the act that he never used any animal product afterwards, either for food or clothing. In consequence