The Woodforde Family
The Good Knight
In 1355, an award made as arbitration in a dispute
involving the Latimer family over ownership of Braybrooke cites two
chaplains, one of whom is named as John de Woodford.
Thomas Woodford of Sproxton
Thomas Woodford, the eldest son of Sir Robert Woodford, married his cousin Alice Berkeley who was the daughter of Sir Lawrence Berkeley of Wymondham and Joan Woodford, sister to Sir Robert Woodford. Their son, Ralph was born in 1430. Thomas died before his father, and hence Ralph became the heir to his grandfather’s estates.
Alice’s father, Sir Lawrence Berkeley (d.c.1413) was a descendant of a cadet branch of the Berkeley family from Thomas, 1st Lord Berkeley (d.1321) through his son Sir Thomas Berkeley, Lord of Coston, Leics., a younger brother of Maurice, 2nd Lord Berkeley. (d.1326). Thomas, 1st Lord Berkeley was in turn the great-grandson of King John of England (d.1216) through Richard Fitzroy, the illegitimate son of King John and Ela de Warenne, sister of the 6th Earl of Warenne, and Fitzroy’s daughter, Isabel (d.1276/7).
From Joan (d.1309), the wife of Thomas, 1st Lord Berkeley, can also be traced a descent from Henry I of England.
Hence Ralph Woodford would have been able to claim through his mother to be descended from both Henry I and John, and through his grandmother Isabel Neville, from Alfred the Great.
contributions to this site are welcome.
© Stephen Butt 2004 - rev 31/05/06
Leicestershire Descent after Sir Robert Woodford
Certainly a bitter rift did occur between Robert and his grandson as early as 1447 when Ralph was just seventeen years old. A De Banco Roll entry records the following claim:
Robert Wodeford against William Yvllers of Brokesby
Nichols quotes a comment from a later Robert Woodford (probably Ralph's eldest son), from a transcript by Francis Peck:
Sir Robert Woodford gauffe by syne to hys younger
It is not known why Robert disapproved of this marriage to Elizabeth Villiers, daughter of William Villiers.
The first fine assigned the manors of Sproxton, Newbold Folville, Wyfordby, Knipton and Garthorpe to his five sons in that order. The manor of Ashby Folville, already in the inheritance of his eldest and now deceased son Thomas I, remained the property of his son Ralph II. The fine stated that on the death of any of the five sons their land would pass to the eldest surviving brother.
A further fine disposed of other Woodford manors into the hands of the five sons including Thorpe Arnold, Burton St Lazars, Brentingby and possibly Ashby Folville. A manuscript quoted by Nichols records that Robert `by council with his younger sons’ burned various documents that would have provided evidence of Ralph's right to inherit Ashby Folville:
As oulde men could testyfye: and then the said
I, Robert Woodford, do affirm that my father Ralph Woodford Shewed me the deed in his closet by the great chamber, and Said that by that deed he held all his lands, and which deed Is in the possession of my brother Matthew Woodford or else My brother John’s.
It would seem likely that the young Ralph was barred from all the Woodford manors until after his grandfather’s death.
R.J.W Davison wrote seventeen volumes devoted to the history of the Villiers family. These volumes are now in Birmingham Public Library. William Villiers was the great-great-great-grandfather of the 1st Duke of Buckingham.
Little is known of Robert’s younger sons. Humphrey is mentioned in a Close Roll entry for 1433 in which `Roberta late the wife of John Mayll of Leycester, in her widowhood to Humphrey Wodford (sic) of Wyfordby, his heirs and assyns. Quit claim with warranty for all lands, rents and services in the towns and fields of Wyfordby, Brentyngby, Thorpe Ernold, Melton Mowbray, Burton St Lazarus and Stapulford, sometime of Robert Wodford Kt. Her brother.’
Robert’s Inquisition Post Mortem is dated 18th March 1456. The jury noted that `Robert Wodeford died seised of the manor of Brentingby, Wivordby, and half the manor of Knypton etc. and of twelve messuages, six tofts, three hundred acres of land and three hundred acres of pasture in Melton Mowbray. Robert de Wodeford died on the Wednesday before St. Peter in Cathedra (22 February) last past and the messuages and lands in Melton Mowbray are held of the Duke of Norfolk.’