The Woodforde Family

A History of the Woodforde Family from 1300




This word is inscribed on a small goblet which was found at Kirby Muxloe castle in Leicestershire. It was on public display at the Age of Chivalry Exhibition at the Royal Academy in London in 1988 but is not listed in the exhibition's catalogue.

The word appears in Shakespeare’s `Love’s Labour’s Lost (Act V Scene 1). It has been traced back to Dante’s `De vulgari eloquentia’ (c.1300) and to `Excerpts’ from Petrus of Pisa, the teacher of Charlemagne. The word `Honorifica’ also appears in a Liber Derivationum’ of the 12th century.

Curiously, this word has also been passed down by oral tradition through generations of the Woodforde of Ansford family, though slightly altered.  The current spelling and pronunciation is HonorificabiliTODENItatibus. 

Is it co-incidental that Kirby Muxloe castle and Belvoir Castle in Leicestershire were built by Robert de Todeni, and that William Woodford (who died 28 July 1487) and John Woodford (fl c.1500) were both retained by the Hastings family of Kirby Muxloe?





















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© Stephen Butt 2004 - rev 04/08/04


John Woodford (1358-1401)

At the time of his father's death , John Woodford was a young boy of eleven, and consequently a wardship was established through Edward, Prince of Wales, whereby three local landowners, William Puresoy, Roger le Gresley the younger, and John Botelier, were responsible for the Woodford lands and properties until John came of age. The grant is dated 1 October 1371, less than two years fater the death of John's father, William.

An earlier indenture dated 16 February 1371 states that `John boteler shall pay to the Prince for this wardenship and marriage £40 at St. John’s Nativity and £40 at Christmas; and afterwards £20 each half year.’

According to the cartulary, John Woodford was born at Brentingby in 1358 and was baptised in Brentingby Chapel by John Walker, rector of Wyfordby. On 21 May 1380, when John  became 21 years of age, Thomas Hore, Escheator for Leicestershire, confirmed that John had been born in Brentingby. Consequently on 21 May 1380 Hore was directed to release `seisin and possession of the manor of Sproxton with its appurtenances…’ and all the other Woodford lands.  John married Mabel (Isabel) Folville, heir to the manor of Ashby Folville in Leicestershire.

John was later appointed Escheator for Leicestershire. Little is known about his life but it is clear that he was well-educated and that he held several positions of influence in the county. An indication of his duties can be gained from various entries in the Rolls.  On 9 October 1391, for instance, John, as Escheator, was ordered `to remove the king’s hand and meddle no further concerning the manors of Kyrkeby upon Wreke, two gardens there and the advowson of the priory, certain lands in Melton Mowbray, the manor of Somerdeby, six virgates of land and 13s 4d rent there, and a messuage and four acres of land in Thorpe Sachevylle, held of others upon the king.” 

Similarly, in 1392, John Woodford is appointed with others `to make Inquisition in Leycester, as to what evil doers and breakers of the king’s peace, slew Robert Horne at Melton Mowbray, now and at whose procurement, and who after, knowingly harboured him…’.

John died in 1401.   The Escheat Rolls for 22 November 1402 records that his heir was his only child, Robert, who was born in 1383.

Mabel Folville, described as `lady of Ashby Folville’ in deeds relating to the letting of land and property in Melton Mowbray in 1428, was the descendant of a notorious Leicestershire family. John de Wodeford and Mabel `his wife’ are recorded as the plaintiffs in a fine against Sir Hugh Browe and Elizabeth his wife relating to a manor and advowson in Teigh, Co.Rutland dated Hilary 1389 in the Gretton (Sherard) manuscripts.


Close Rolls, 15 Richard II (1391) October 9th, Westminster.

Close Rolls, 16 Richard II (1392), August 3rd, Nottingham.

Escheat Rolls, 2 Henry IV (1402) Nov 22nd, pp.243, Leyc.