Background

This website records the history of a family with the surname Woodford(e).   

The name is from Old English pre-7th Century 'wuda' meaning a wood, and 'forda', a shallow river crossing or occasionally a bridge.

There may be many families with the same name because woods and fords are common in the English landscape.  This family takes its name from villages in the Woodford Valley near Salisbury in Wiltshire.  Some of the men and women who left that village adopted the surname or were described as 'de Woodford'.

This is the story of the descendants of John de Woodford who left the Woodford Valley at the end of the 13th century, or in the early years of the 14th century, and settled in Brentingby near Melton Mowbray in Leicestershire.

His descendants settled in Buckinghamshire, Northamptonshire and Somerset.  They also emigrated to America in the 17th century.

The River Avon in the Woodford Valley
The River Avon in the Woodford Valley

Surnames

In the 17th century, the final 'e' was added to the Woodford surname by some branches of the family.  Both spellings are used on this website, depending on the context.

The surname is first recorded in Scotland in the latter half of the 12th Century whilst the first namebearers in England were Daniel de Wudeford, recorded in the 1196 pipe rolls of Oxfordshire, Gilbert De Woodford held lands in 1214, and Geoffrey de Wodeforde in Somerset in the Hundred Rolls of the year 1273.  

The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Joardan de Wodford, which was dated circa 1170, a charter witness at the Abbey of Aberbrothoc during the reign of King William of Scotland.  

William de Wodefaud was returned as a knight of the County of Wiltshire in 1307 but there is no evidence of a specific family styled `de Woodford' existing in the area.  The manuscripts of the Duke of Norfolk include a copy of a grant to an Adam de Wodefolde dated 5 January 1287/8 for `one acress of arable land in Multune (Melton)'.  

The antiquarian historian Francis Peck noted a Robert Wodefaud as a convert in the Hospital of St Thomas in Stamford in 1299.  In the same year, Brother William of Woodford was appointed Abbot of Peterborough.  In some pedigrees, including those included by John Nichols in his History & Antiquities of the County of Leicester,  Brother William is described as a `kinsman' of John Woodford of Brentingby.  

A different William Woodford succeeded William de Melton as vicar of Melton Mowbray in Leicestershire in 1319, resigning in 1323.   A John de Woodford was presented to the same church in 1324.