The Woodforde Family
John Woodforde was born in Ansford on 3 August 1839. He gained a
BA degree in Divinity from Hatfield House, Durham University and served as vicar of
Shepton Montague, near Castle Cary, and as vicar of St Augustine's
Locking, near Weston-super-Mare from 1894 until his death in 1909. A
number of his watercolours of this church and the vicarage (now
demolished) have survived.
He married, on 11 January 1870, Elizabeth Laishley, the only child of George New Laishley of Clarence Lodge, Shirley. Elizabeth was born in Lausanne, Vaud, Switzerland, on 5 February 1835, and died at Lausanne on 5 February 1885 aged thirty five years.
Their children were:
During the time when Revd Alexander Woodforde was at Locking, the living had a yearly value of £437 including thirty seven acres of glebe. The Merchant Venturers of Bristol were the lords of the manor and principal landowners.
In the 1881 Census, Alexander, Robert, Harriet and Margaret are
registered as members of the household of Thomas G Wails in Park Row,
Castle Cary. Seven children of the Wails family are also listed as
well as a governess (Elizabeth Barton of Bradford, Wiltshire) and two
servants. It is assumed that at this time the Revd Woodforde's
wife, Elizabeth Laishley, was ill and was being nursed in her home
area of Lausanne. Possibly, they took their eldest (Georgina) and two
youngest (Katherine and Reginald) with them, leaving the four children
of school age at Castle Cary.
Alexander John Woodforde
son of Ansford soliticor George Augustus Woodforde and Harriett Maud Leir
(eldest daughter of Revd William Leir, Rector of Ditcheat, Somerset), the
Revd Alexander John Woodforde, served for many years as the vicar of Locking
Locking Parish Church
The Revd Alexander
Woodforde was an
amateur watercolour painter, and several of his paintings of Locking
Church and rectory have survived.
A local newspaper report states that the Revd Alexander Woodforde read the lessons at an Anniversary Service in the Chapel of the West of England Sanatorium on Weston-super-Mare's sea front, on 11 May 1889.
Locking Parish Church Lych Gate
to Dorothy Heighes Woodforde, a granddaughter of Revd Alexander, many family papers were lost in 1909 when the family left Locking
after the death of Revd Alexander Woodforde.
"My father, arriving a day or two later, found a few of these letters of these letters in the stables where they had been dropped by the man who carted the rest away, but very little has ever been recovered."
the lost papers, according to Dorothy, was "a great deal of
material of a much earlier period which had never been
examined", probably 14th and 15th centuries.
The Tomkins Family
A further colourful side to the family were the five aunts of Elizabeth Laishley including Miriam, Ellen, Eliza and Emma. They had inherited a considerable wealth from investments in slum property in Southampton, England. They all lived in Worthing, England but regularly visited the Holy Land as they supported the (Christian) Mission to the Jews.
Their surname was Tomkins. According to a biography of Revd Alexander John Woodforde by his grand son Oliver Woodford, W.S.Tompkins was the stepfather of Elizabeth Laishley.
contributions to this site are welcome.
© Stephen Butt 2004-2005 revised 09/12/06