The Woodforde Family

A History of the Woodforde Family from 1300



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. 

E.Acheson suggests that this would indicate that each of these sons therefore possessed independent establishments.

David 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 24, No.4.

E.Acheson, A Gentry Community: Leicestershire in the 15th century, 1992.P142.


Margaret Woodford - The Leicestershire Heiress

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 nephew. 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’. 

His only 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.

 Cal.Inq.Post Mortem.352.Ing.



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© Stephen Butt 2004 - rev 29/02/04