The Woodforde Family

A History of the Woodforde Family from 1300



The Ansford Family

The Ansford family descends from the Woodford(e) family of Northamptonshire.  The first member of the family to move to Somerset was Robert (Robin) Woodforde, a younger son of Revd Samuel Woodforde and Mary Norton (his second wife).  In a distinguished career in the Church, Robert served as Treasurer and Canon Residentiary of Wells Cathedral.  

However, the Ansford family descends from his half-brother, Heighes Woodforde.Samuel Woodforde's eldest son (from his first wife, Alice Beale) was Revd Heighes Woodforde (1664-1724), some time Vicar of Epsom, and it was his son, another Revd Samuel Woodforde (1695-1771) who became the Rector of Ansford in Somerset.  

His brother, Revd John Woodforde, served as Rector of the nearby parish of Curry, and a nephew, Revd Francis Woodforde (1748-1836), son of Thomas Woodforde (1707-1800) also became Rector of Ansford. 



Revd Alexander John Woodforde

Revd Alexander John Woodforde


The Revd Samuel Woodforde's eldest Son, also named Heighes Woodforde, became an attorney in Ansford. Samuel's second son, Revd James Woodforde, was the distinguished diarist.

Heighes Woodforde's eldest son was William Woodforde, the `Nephew Bill' of Parson James's diaries. His eldest son, another William Woodforde, became a doctor and worked in the United States.

William's youngest son, George Augustus Woodforde, married Harriet Leir and followed his grandfather into the legal profession.

George Augustus had nine children. His son, the Revd Alexander John Woodforde, served for many years as Rector of Locking in Somerset. He married Elizabeth Laishley on 11 January 1870. Elizabeth was born in Lausanne, Vaud, Switzerland, on 5 February 1835. Her father was George Laishley.

Another son, George William Woodforde (born 15 December 1844) married Harriet, the daughter of Revd Robert F Lawrence, Vicar of St Mary’s, Chalgrove, Oxford. George William died on 27 March 1892 leaving five children, namely: Oswald William Randolph, George Augustus (obviously named after his grandfather), Harriet May Mabel, Helen Gwendoline Neville and
Alice Evelyn French.

The Revd Robert Lawrence was a distinguished member of the clergy.  Born in 1807, he was educated at Christ Church and was Vicar of St Mary, Chalgrove, Oxford and St Helen, Berrick, Salome, for fifty three years until his death in 1885. He opened a school for the villagers and taught there himself, but he is best remembered for fighting for better cottage accommodation for agricultural labourers. The small thatched cottages he built remain to this day. His campaigning on behalf of the poor farm workers brought him into conflict with the landowners (including some of the Oxford Colleges) and he was secretary of the local agricultural labourers' trade union. He is mentioned in Bishop Anthony Russell's The Clerical Profession. He died in 1885.  



Revd Robert Lawrence

Revd Robert Lawrence


Helen and Henry Whalley Woodforde

In 1870, Helen, the eldest daughter of George Augustus, married her cousin Henry Whalley Woodforde. He was a solicitor, and their private address was in Surbiton.  However, Helen appears to have spent much time at the Ansford Lower House.  She gave Julia (William's daughter) a `nice cap' on the old lady's eighty-third birthday, for instance.

They had one child who survived only a few hours after birth, but they adopted one of Henry's nieces, a daughter of Charles Clutterbuck Woodforde who died young leaving his family in poor circumstances.  Her name was Rose Isabel Martin.  

Henry died in 1907. In 1909, Helen made a will in favour of Rose leaving Ansford Lodge. Helen died in 1910 and lies with her husband in Ansford.  

Rose died in 1927, and in the following year her husband Lt Col. John Prescott-Law sold most of her family possessions, many inherited from Helen and Henry and dating back to Dr James Woodforde MD.  Prescott-Law also sold Ansford Lodge, ending the family's two hundred year association with the building.


Reginald Fielding Marriott Woodforde

Reginald Fielding Marriott Woodforde
 photographed in 1943

Locking Parish Church

Locking Parish Church

The Woodforde family in Somerset

The Ansford (Somerset) branch of the Woodforde family is perhaps the most well-known because of the literary fame of Revd James Woodforde whose diaries have been published by Oxford University Press in various editions since the 1920's.  Such is the continuing popularity of Parson Woodforde's material that a society exists, devoted to the further exploration and understanding of his life and times.



Locking Lychgate

Locking Parish Church Lych Gate

The Lych Gate at Locking Parish Church, in memory of the Revd Alexander John Woodforde, was constructed by local men and boys who attended a wood-carving class held by a Miss Gimmingham, who lived at the Manor House. Members of this group carved many other items for the church.

Elizabeth Laishley

Elizabeth Laishley
(Wife of Revd Alexander John Woodforde)


Ansford Lodge

At some time between 1856 and 1873 Ansford Lodge was sold to George Augustus Woodforde (1801-1877).  Of George's nine children, five were living when he died. By his will he bequeathed the Lodge to Helen, his eldest daughter, for her lifetime, appointing his sons Alexander and Randolph as trustees. They were authorised to let the house and draw the rents accruing on her behalf.

In 1884, four years after their father's death, the five children and their husbands mortgaged the property for the sum of £190 in order to finance repairs to the outbuildings. This sum was not repaid for a further twenty five years.

The youngest son of Revd Alexander John Woodforde, Reginald Fielding Marriott Woodforde was the grandfather of the author of this site.


The Woodman crest

The ancient crest of the
Woodman (as painted in Brentingby
Chapel c.1400) still in use in the
19th Century in Somerset






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© Stephen Butt 2004-2005 revised 17/04/06

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