The Loxleys are one of six Founding Families of the Queendom of East Mercia on the Anglia Isle. They hold the Duchy of Huntingdon within the Queendom. The head of the family, currently Robyn Loxley, serves as Warden of the Guard.
Historically the second most prominent Founding Family after the ruling Fitzwalters, many Loxleys through the ages have played an important part in grand historical events of East Mercia and the Anglia Isle. They maintain Huntingdon Hall on the Loxley Estate, close to Loxton, capital of Huntingdon, as their official residence and also have residences in Nottingham, including Loxley Manor and Hunting House.
Pre-Hycathic era and First Hycath War
The Loxleys have been associated with Nottingham since pre-Hycathic Norman times, when they held the nearby Earldom of Huntingdon. Eric Loxley, 5th Earl of Huntingdon, died in 1118 before his son Alfred could come of age. Although legally unable to inherit in the patriarchy of the time, his eldest daughter Margaret assumed the position of acting Countess, gaining control of the Earldom’s small detachment of soldiers. Margaret was in a long-term relationship with Gabriella Fitzwalter. Gabriella was a Cyntha whose Norman ancestor built Nottingham Castle before losing it to the Peverel family as punishment for his relationship with a Hycatha. Margaret and Gabriella operated as social vigilantes in the Nottingham area, with Margaret’s soldiers as their muscle.
In early 1141, Margaret and her soldiers became involved in the First Hycath War when Empress Matilda “Maud” Beauclerc and her entourage stopped off in Nottingham on their way to liberate Lincoln Castle from a siege by King Stephen of Blois, Maud’s cousin and the usurper of her throne. Maud had come to recruit Gabriella, who convinced her to bring Margaret and her soldiers along. They would fight in the Battle of Lincoln on one of the flanks of the Hycathic army, the Nyridia Elmira of Aktau at their head.
First Age of Hycath
Following the Hycathic victory in the war, Gabriella was installed as the Duchess of East Mercia, one of sixteen new Duchies of England, created by Maud. The burgeoning First Age of Hycath was a strict matriarchy, meaning Margaret immediately became the rightful Countess of Huntingdon and her female descendants would inherit the title. As she and Gabriella consolidated their new Duchy, Margaret built a house ten miles out of Nottingham to serve as a country residence for the two of them and their daughter, Alviva. The house is known as Hunting House and it was the earliest of the Loxleys’ several properties to be built.
Margaret died in 1163 and was buried in a plot of land in the Earldom. The tree planted to mark her grave was the first tree of what would later become Sherwood, the Loxley family’s personal burial forest, now a major part of their Estate. Since Margaret’s only child was Alviva Fitzwalter, who was biologically Gabriella’s daughter and who was already the heir to the Duchy of East Mercia, Margaret’s Earldom passed to her niece, Erica Loxley.
Erica’s descendant, Margaret Adelaide Loxley – known to all as Adelaide – travelled to Europe in the 1370s, accompanying Empress Matilda VI and Mary-Anne Fitzwalter, 9th Duchess of East Mercia, to support the Hycathic forces there in a conflict which would grow into the Sacking of the Vatican in 1378. Though the Hycathae were ultimately victorious, Adelaide lost her life fighting, and Mary-Anne was forced to kill Matilda to curb the latter’s growing lust for power.
Second Age of Hycath
Consolidation of new power
Mary-Anne restructured England to avoid another war of succession, splitting it into eleven Queendoms and installing herself as the first Queen of East Mercia. She joined with five other prominent East Mercian families to establish this Queendom with Nottingham as its capital and central Duchy, and five new Duchies for the other families. The Loxleys’ Earldom of Huntingdon became their Duchy, with Adelaide posthumously named the first Duchess. Since her daughter and only heir, Abigail, was five years old in 1378 when Adelaide died, Adelaide’s sister Florence ruled the Duchy as regent until Abigail came of age.
The other important part of Queen Mary-Anne’s bequest to the Loxleys was a house to serve as their Duchy residence. Bradfield Lodge sat on two thousand acres of land, neighbouring the land already belonging to the Loxleys, and it had originally been built in 1305 for Empress Ivette II of England to use as a hunting lodge. It occupied a strategic position just outside Loxton, the new Duchy capital. The Queen renamed it Loxley Lodge and arranged for Florence, Abigail and William Arnott – Adelaide’s widower and Abigail’s father – to move in. William would occupy himself with renovating and extending the Lodge, as well as embarking on landscaping work to create a set of formal gardens. Upon completion in 1397, the Loxleys renamed their house Huntingdon Hall, the name it has retained to this day.
Abigail had come of age in the early 1390s and took over as 2nd Duchess of Huntingdon. She formed a strong political alliance with Queen Mary-Anne, often siding with her on matters of policy and helping to flesh out the Queendom system. Historical accounts of the period describe her enthusiastically rallying potential Champions from Huntingdon, and accompanying the Queen to the Championships, where she would sit beside her in the royal box. Abigail’s support earned her a certain favour from the Queen, who allotted funds towards the extension of Huntingdon Hall. Some modern historians, such as Professor Gilbert Arlin, have speculated that this may have been Queen Mary-Anne’s effort to give Abigail something back in light of her mother’s death.
Abigail embarked on a relationship with a Championship contestant, Killian Greaves, in the mid-1390s, and had one daughter and three sons with him. She named her eldest daughter and heir Adelaide Florence Loxley, in honour of her mother and aunt. Adelaide would become the 3rd Duchess of Huntingdon upon Abigail’s death in 1434.
The Oliver Coup
Adelaide’s tenure as Duchess coincided with a tumultuous period in East Mercian history, as the Queendom faced dissent from one of its Founding Families, the Olivers. They had gradually become disillusioned with the continuing matriarchy and were not satisfied with certain provisions made to allow men to inherit wealth. The issue was worsened when Eliza Oliver, 3d Duchess of Morleston, produced two sons, Merrick and Gregory, but no daughter. She wanted Merrick recognised as her heir, whereas Queen Matilda decreed that Eliza’s niece, Bathsheba, should inherit the Duchy. The marriage of Gregory to Princess Cecily, the royal heir, had no effect, further angering the Olivers.
Adelaide had several reasons to ally herself and her family with the Olivers, as her own written account illustrates. Possessing an intricate knowledge of history, she believed that the matriarchy had persisted long enough to justify experimenting with the formula, especially given the developments in financial inheritance law. This belief may or may not have been encouraged by her own situation – not only was she the only girl of four siblings, but she and her partner, Nigel Carlisle, had produced three sons. In any case, her desire that they inherit her title and fortune made her empathetic towards Eliza and Merrick Oliver. She also felt a duty to protect Bathsheba, a child and a teenager at this time, not wanting her to inherit a Duchy as young as her mother Abigail had, with the need for a Regent.
The Loxleys had historically been close to the Olivers – Adelaide had even babysat Merrick and Gregory in her teens – ensuring a secure position in the event of a triumph, though Adelaide hoped to keep some relationship with the Fitzwalters. Unfortunately, Queen Matilda was well aware of Adelaide’s history with the Olivers and became suspicious of her. This strained the once-solid Loxley-Fitzwalter bond and hindered Adelaide’s attempts to mediate on Eliza and Merrick’s behalf. Matilda died in 1444 and Cecily was crowned Queen, but was no easier to mediate with, once infamously ejecting Adelaide from Nottingham Castle after throwing strawberries from her own cornucopia at her. An incident which became known as the Strawberry Affair.
Adelaide and other Loxleys assisted Merrick, his family and their allies in mounting a coup against the then-Queen Cecily in 1449, in which the royal forces swiftly gained the upper hand. In the heat of the conflict, Adelaide reasoned that the Loxley-Fitzwalter bond was more important in the long term and might actually achieve the Olivers’ aims. She surrendered herself and the Loxley forces to the Queen, offering assistance to quash the Oliver Coup in return for mercy. Queen Cecily assented, on the condition that she capture Merrick. This she did, in a duel often written about in historical accounts. Adelaide subdued Merrick by stabbing him in the hip with a knife from the kitchens of Nottingham Castle, leaving him with a permanent limp. Merrick was later executed for treason by the Queendom’s laws.
Adelaide’s actions ensured she herself was spared execution as Cecily rebuilt her Queendom. However, she was banished to Huntingdon and her vote in Queendom matters revoked in favour of her first cousin once removed and heir, Florence Adelaide Loxley, who had shown greater support for the Crown during the Coup. Adelaide was left with few allies, and was ultimately murdered by a vengeful Algernon Oliver, son of Merrick, in 1464. The family stopped using the name Adelaide thereafter, associating it with bad luck and death.
The Acorn Uprising
Queen Cecily banished the Olivers, including her husband Gregory, from East Mercia in the wake of their coup, and they settled in Rochdale where they eventually married into its royal family, gained control and renamed the capital city Fort Oliver. In the mid-seventeenth Century, their King, Lionel, set in motion a campaign that culminated in the Acorn Uprising of 1671-73. His niece and nephew, Lydia and Oswald, murdered Queen Alviva of East Mercia and her daughter and heir, Gabriella, cutting short the Hycathic Fitzwalter line and initiating an all-out war between Fort Oliver and the combined forces of East and West Mercia, York, Beverly and the Archduchy of the North under Alviva’s brother Jonathan, now King John I.
Eleanor Loxley was Duchess of Huntingdon by this time and an exceptional swordswoman. She and her ancestors had significantly rehabilitated the Loxley-Fitzwalter bond, making her a key ally to King John in the fight against the Olivers. She led the forces of Huntingdon in battle and rooted out several attempts of subterfuge. In 1672, she and Bridget Tuck, Duchess of Guthlaxton, foiled a plot by Oliver agents to poison the water supply to Nottingham Castle with deadly nightshade, instead forcing the agents to ingest their entire stock of the toxic plant. Eleanor fought alongside King John in the climactic Battle of Anglia in 1673, helping to bring him a resounding victory, in the wake of which the two married.
The Age of Equality
Through her marriage, Eleanor Loxley became the Queen of East Mercia, the only Loxley to do so in history. She and Jonathan had three children; their eldest, Richard Fitzwalter, would inherit the throne, and their second, Alviva Loxley, would inherit Huntingdon. The Duchy was restyled as a Royal Duchy for Alviva; its numbering was also restarted, and this change was kept. Alviva would therefore be styled 1st Royal Duchess of Huntingdon.
Eleanor is renowned in history as a model Queen and royal consort, respected for her role in rebuilding East Mercia after the Acorn Uprising and moving the conversation on sociopolitical issues forward. She and Jonathan had what Dr. Annette Lynton has described as ‘a marriage that could repel a cannonball’, and relied on each other for counsel and support. Eleanor fostered relationships with the royal families of neighbouring Queendoms, strengthening their trade relations. Closer to home, she supervised the renovation of Huntingdon Hall – which had been damaged extensively during the Uprising – including the demolition of its West Wing and the expansion of its farmlands and grain production as the Loxley Estate had grown to cover three thousand acres.
Jonathan died in 1684, with Eleanor reigning as regent for twelve years until Richard was crowned King Richard I, in 1696. Wishing to live closer to him, and finding it difficult to live at Huntingdon Hall in its state, she spearheaded the construction of Loxley Manor in Nottingham, moving in in 1699, when only its first section had been built. Her project was fully completed by 1707. She lived a long and fruitful life, and her children brought her in to advise on policy at Queendom and Duchy level on occasion. The rest of her time she devoted to outreach work. She died in 1739, and was buried in the Sherwood forest. Her burial marked the beginning of a more structured design to the burial forest.
This was a time when true gender equality in the lines of succession began to be recognised as royal houses and Duchies moved away from the matriarchy of the Ages of Hycath. Eleanor and Jonathan amended the laws of East Mercia to allow for this. After Victoria Abigail Loxley, 3rd Duchess of Huntingdon, died without issue in 1743, her brother, Thomas Alfred Loxley, became the 4th Duke of Huntingdon, the first male head of the Loxley family since Eric Loxley in pre-Hycathic times.
Loxley descendants over the next century would make further contributions and improvements to their lands and society. The 6th Duke, Cameron Loxley, was responsible for Huntingdon Hall gaining a new West Wing and assuming its current shape. His successor, Catherine, 7th Duchess, would reduce the family’s property portfolio by giving the west wing of Loxley Manor in Nottingham to the Loxley Foundation. This was a charity she founded in 1843 to commemorate her husband, Bernard Bridge, who had died from cancer.
Second Hycath War
The Loxleys contributed to the Second Hycath War, though in a different fashion to previous wars and conflicts. The 8th Duke of Huntingdon, Roger Loxley, was a practising surgeon, and he travelled to the battle field on mainland Europe to aid the casualties of the battle. His service won him an East Mercia Octad at the close of the war in 1895.
The Great Torrent of 1921 had a significant impact on East Mercia as a coastal country, and Huntingdon was not spared. Amidst the great loss of life, the 9th Duchess, Margaret Eleanor Loxley, had to weather the ruination of many of the Loxley Estate’s crops, by then a significant food source. Her husband, Arthur Stanley Fortescue, led rescue efforts during the Torrent itself, including sheltering dispossessed citizens at Huntingdon Hall, Loxley Manor and Hunting House, whilst Margaret worked to accelerate harvests already in progress and salvage as much food as could be reclaimed from the floodwaters. Once the Torrent had subsided, it left many of the Loxleys’ fields contaminated by saltwater, and Margaret led research into cultivating new crops that could grow in these conditions, putting her family and Huntingdon ahead of others in the pursuit of long-term relief as the Long Famine set in. She also had the boundary fences of the Loxley Estate strengthened in order to give her new crops adequate protection from the sea.
Arthur was decorated for his humanitarian work in the years following the Torrent. However, he sadly died in a car accident in 1956 that also claimed the lives of his and Margaret’s heir, Edward Henry Loxley, and his wife, Victoria Emmett. Margaret continued to rule until her death in 1993, when the Duchy passed to Edward and Victoria’s daughter, Eleanor.
Eleanor Loxley, 10th Duchess of Huntingdon, was a skilled military general who had risen through the ranks of the East Mercian Army as the Great Famine progressed and plateaued. She served alongside the royal heir, Richard Fitzwalter, and entered a romantic relationship with him. After three years, his infertility ended the relationship, but the two remained close even after Richard was crowned King in 1986. Eleanor found a new partner, Alistair Morris, during this time, and their only daughter, Margaret Victoria Robyn Loxley, was born in 1988. It is generally accepted that King Richard IV saw Robyn as the closest thing he could have to a child, as attested by his generosity towards her.
Eleanor’s own Huntingdon forces were prominently incorporated into the East Mercian Army by King Richard IV, whilst her daughter, showing a precocious talent for archery, trained for the Championships. The training would prove worthwhile, with Robyn winning the coveted Champion title for seven consecutive years from 2009 to 2015.
Promised Land Campaign
Both Eleanor and Robyn saw active service in the Promised Land Campaign of the mid-2010s, accompanying King Richard IV to Al-Murooj in order to put pressure on their elders. This followed an unsuccessful attempt to broker a trade deal for a special type of saltwater-growing seed developed there. What began as a last-ditch diplomatic mission in 2014 turned to war over the ensuing months, a war that would last well into 2017 and would be lost by East Mercia. Eleanor died in battle in the final months of the war, and Robyn and Richard both failed to return, ultimately being declared dead by Richard’s brother John Fitzwalter and Robyn’s half-sister Philippa Murdoch, the Sheriff of Nottingham. John had secured the position of heir from his and Richard’s niece Marian, who had abdicated. John was subsequently crowned King John II. Thomas Henry Loxley received the Duchy of Huntingdon and handed over deeds to the Loxley Estate and responsibilities as a Warden of the Guard to Philippa – also Marian’s partner – in return for a large sum, although he himself would keep the title Duke of Huntingdon.
Philippa Murdoch has continued to control the Loxley Estate, splitting her time between Huntingdon Hall and Loxley Manor. Other members of the family occupy some of the other properties on the portfolio. The current occupants of Hunting House are the Duke and his family.
The recent return of Robyn will complicate matters, as all of the Loxley titles and properties will automatically return to her by birthright.
The Loxley Foundation continues to operate out of Loxley Manor’s West Wing. Its latest fundraiser, a concert on the campus of Barton University, raised 5000 ocis to go towards a kidney dialysis unit for Nottingham City Hospital.
Coat of Arms
The Loxley family crest describes three caryatids holding up a tower. One has a shield, another a sword and the other a bow. Their heraldic colour is green.
In Popular Culture
Dr. Annette Lynton published The Loxleys and the Ages of Hycath in 2012. It’s an in-depth look at the family as they progressed from the First Hycath War, through to the Acorn Uprising. She touched on the role of Margaret Loxley in the First Hycath War in the final episode of her recent podcast series, The Clash of the Cousins, with expert guest Professor Gilbert Arlin.
The role of Adelaide, Abigail and Eleanor Loxley in the Oliver Coup and the Acorn Uprising has been explored in many works of fiction, including Blake Murray’s The Fateful Adelaide and Leigh Stables and [Dr. Victoria Flood]’s A Crown For All.