There has been a longstanding debate regarding the relationships between various families with the surname Woodford or Woodforde.  

From as early as the mid-seventeenth century, members of the Woodforde family of Ansford in Somerset contended that they were descended from the Woodford family of Leicestershire.  Despite much research by family members and historians who have studied the Ansford family in depth, the debate continues.

The author of this website believes that the Ansford family is descended from the Leicestershire family and is also linked to the Woodford Barony of Carleby, although convincing evidence is not yet available.  For a more detailed explanation, please see this page:
The River Avon in the Woodford Valley
The River Avon in the Woodford Valley

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 name bearers in England were Daniel de Wudeford, recorded in the 1196 pipe rolls of Oxfordshire, Gilbert De Woodford who held lands in 1214, and Geoffrey de Wodeforde who appears in Somerset in the Hundred Rolls of the year 1273.  

The first recorded spelling of the family name is currently 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.  

Brentingby Chapel and manor c.1645
Brentingby Chapel and manor c.1645

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.  

Another 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.