The sons of Ralph
Woodford and the Dispersal of the Leicestershire family
After the death of Ralph and the loss of
much of the family’s land through Margaret Woodford’s marriages, the
Woodford family’s strength and prosperity waned.
Ralph’s second son,
Matthew, married Lucy Brooksby and there is no evidence that he had any
children. Ralph’s fourth son, Robert, married Alice Gates and moved to
his wife’s home in Buckinghamshire. The youngest son, Thomas, married
Jane Neville, and is also said to have died without issue. Nichols states that of Ralph’s five sons,
Matthew and Thomas died without issue and only William and John had issue
in Leicestershire, as Robert had moved to Brightwell in Buckinghamshire.
The family line therefore became the issue
of Ralph’s third son, John. He was first married to Millicent Markham,
who died childless, and secondly to Mary Jerningham from which marriage
there were three sons and two daughters. The family moved to the area of
Muston in Leicestershire where their descendants can be found today.
According to Ian Payne,
at least one Woodford family remained in Ashby Folville and existed from
the early 16th century, later as tenants of the Babingtons at
their manor of Rothley. It is likely that John, Ralph’s son, was the same
John Woodford who was `of Ashby’ and taxed on goods worth £46 in the Lay
Subsidy of 1524 and came to the Babington’s manorial court at Rothley in
1526 having purchased a messuage and 20 acres of land in Barsby, begging
leave to be admitted a tenant.However, it is important to
note from Ralph’s will that by the time of his death, Ralph had given
lands to all three of his younger sons.
suggests that this would indicate that each of these sons therefore
possessed independent establishments.
Baldwin, a Leicestershire-based historian, in his research into the
Hastings family in the Midlands, has found references to a William
Woodford who died in 1487 as a retainer of William Hastings and to a John
Woodford who was a feed man of his son Edward Hastings. William Hastings
retainers also include John Turvill of Thurlaston (d.1506). This William
Woodford’s inquisition post mortem (Calendar Henry VII, col.1.p.147) shows
that he died seised of the manors of `Brantyngby, Wyfordby, Frethby, and
Garthorp’ worth £20 per annum on 28 July 1487. This William could be one
of the sons of the John who was the son of Ralph Woodford.
I.Payne, A Leicestershire Royal Descent: The Woodfords of Ashby
Folville and Muston in The Genealogists’ Magazine, Ed: F.L.Leeson, Vol
E.Acheson, A Gentry Community: Leicestershire in the 15th
Margaret Woodford - The
At the time of Ralph
Woodford’s death, Margaret was married to Thomas Morton. It seems
that she had first been married to a John Turville who died soon
after their marriage. She was then married to his brother William
Turville. The legality of this marriage was questioned in the Court
of Audience before Archbishop Morton and consequently she was taken
from William Turville and married to Thomas Morton, the archbishop’s
The motives behind this judgement by the archbishop seem
questionable, to say the least.
The manor of Brentingby passed to
the Mortons in 1487 on the death of Margaret’s father, William.
William died on 28 July 1487 and his Inquisition Post Mortem
revealed that Margaret, then aged eight years, was to inherit
Brentingby, Wyfordby, Freeby and Garthorpe `held of Ralph’. This
Ralph would have been her great-uncle – one of the younger sons of
Sir Robert Woodford - and not her father.
Margaret and Thomas Morton had one
son, named John. He was born 1498 and died 1521. He married Ellen
Roper. An inquisition dated 15 August 1522 and quoted by Burton
noted that a John Morton `died 21 August 1521 possessed of Sproxton
... land at Melton .. and the manor of Wyfordby’.
daughter, Mary Morton was born after his death on 15 February 1522
and she married a Francis Smith. She died in Croydon in 1568.
Consequently, the bulk of the family’s manors, land and property
passed out of the Woodford family into the first of two families
adopting the name Smith-Carington.
J.Nichols. iv, 403.
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