Dispersal of the Leicestershire family

St Mary's Parish Church, Ashby Folville
St Mary's Parish Church, Ashby Folville

After the death of Sir Ralph Woodford at Ashby Folville in 1498 and the loss of much of the family's land through Margaret Woodford's marriages, the Woodford family's strength and prosperity in Leicestershire waned.

Ralph's second son, Matthew, married Lucy Brooksby but 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.

John 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 Muston area of Leicestershire where their descendants are still living today.   According to Ian Payne (see sources, below), 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.

Incised slab on the tomb of Sir Ralph Woodford in Ashby Folville Church
Incised slab on the tomb of Sir Ralph Woodford in Ashby Folville Church

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 as a tenant.

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, 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.


J.Nichols, History and Antiquities of the County of Leicester, 1815, Ashby Folville.

G.Farnham and A.Hamilton-Thompson, The Manors of Allexton, Appelby and Ashby Folville, in Transactions of the Leicestershire Archaeological and Historical Society, Vol 11,

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.