The Woodforde family came to Leicestershire from Wiltshire in the late 13th century and settled near Melton Mowbray.

Through marriage they gained many manors in the area including Brentingby, Wyfordby, Gadsby, Garthorpe, Freeby, Sproxton and Ashby Folville.

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

The Leicestershire descent in brief 

Sir John of Woodford from Wiltshire. (c.1260-c.1365) .m. Alice Prest d.1333.  Their first son, Walter, died young.  Their second son and heir:

Sir William Woodford (b. before 1344 - d.1369), a 'sergeant-at-law .m. Joan Brabazon. Their son: 

Sir John Woodford (1358-1401) .m. Mabel Folville.  John was a minor when his father died and became a ward of the Black Prince.  He inherited his father's land and property when he came of age.  He was appointed Sheriff of Leicestershire and Warwickshire.  Their son:

Sir Robert Woodford (1383-1455) .m. Isabel Neville and had six sons.  The five younger sons died without heirs.  Sir Robert fought at Agincourt. Their eldest son:

Sir Thomas Woodford (d,by 1447) .m. Alice Berkeley. Thomas and Alice were cousins. Thomas died before his father. Their eldest son:

Sir Ralph Woodford (1430-1498) .m. (secondly) Elizabeth Villiers.  There is reference in his will to  Margaret, possibly his first wife.  From one or both marriages, Sir Ralph had five sons. The eldest, William, married Anne Norwich and had one daughter, Margaret. Of the sons, only John and Robert had children. Much of the family's land and property was inherited by Margaret and her descendants. (See section below).  Their second son:

Sir Robert Woodford (b.1460) .m. Alice Gate of Burnham, Bucks.  He moved to his wife's manor at Burnham, Bucks. They had four sons and two daughters, but only their eldest son, Thomas, had children.  Elizabeth, their youngest daughter, became a nun, first at Burnham Abbey and later in Louvain.

Thomas Woodford (b 1497 or 1484 - 1546) .m. Elizabeth Blount. They had four sons and six (or seven) daughters.  Their son:

Robert Woodford (b.about 1512) .m. Johanna Preston of Radnorshire. They had four sons. Only the eldest (Robert) had children.  One son was John (fl.1513) who married Alice of Scaldwell (Northants). 

Robert Woodford (b.1535) .m. Elizabeth Wentworth of Burnham Abbey (1485-1560?).  

[This generation is uncertain.  Elizabeth may have been the daughter of either Peter or Paul Wentworth (brothers) who were imprisoned in the Tower of London due to their Puritan sympathies.  One record gives Elizabeth living in 1615 because she is mentioned in her mother's will of that date.] 

Robert's son:

Robert Woodford (d.1574) .m. Elizabeth Wymond (1515-1576). Both died in Old, Northants. Their son:

Edward Woodford (1518-1604) .m. Marjorie Ragdale.  Their son:

Robert Woodford (1564-1616) .m. Jane Dexter, heiress of one of the twin manors of Old. Their son:

Robert Woodford (1606-1654) .m. Hannah Haunch (1617-1698.).  Their eldest son:

Revd Samuel Woodford DD (1636-1700) .m. firstly Alice Beale.  Born in London, studied at St. Paul's School and Wadham College Oxford (B.A. 1657, D.D. 1677). He attended the Inner Temple (1659) and was elected to the Royal Society (1664). Rector of Shalden (1673-1700), Canon of Chichester (1676) and of Winchester (1680-1700).  Their only son:

Revd, Heighes Woodforde (1664-1724). Vicar of Epsom.

Revd Samuel Woodforde (1695-1771). Rector of Ansford, Somerset.  The Revd James Woodforde (1740-1803), diarist and Norfolk clergyman was one of his sons.  Another son was:

Heighes Woodforde (1726-1789). Attorney, Ansford, Somerset.   His second son was Samuel Woodforde RA. His first son was:

William Woodforde (1758-1844). Somerset Light Infantry.  Parson James Woodforde's 'Nephew Bill'.

George Augustus Woodforde (1801-1877).  Solicitor, Castle Cary, Somerset.  Nine children.

Revd Alexander John Woodforde. Locking, Somerset .m. (firstly) Elizabeth Laishley.

Reginald Fielding Marriott Woodforde (1880-1962) .m. (firstly) Gertrude Griffiths and had two sons and one daughter.  Liverpool and Weston-super-Mare, Somerset.

Mona Gertrude Woodforde (second child and only daughter) .m. George John Butt (1926-2018)   They had one son and one daughter (Jan). Their son:

Stephen Butt is owner of this website.

The Dispersal from Leicestershire

After the death of Ralph Woodforde in 1498 and the loss of much of the family's land through Margaret Woodford's marriages, the Woodford family's strength and prosperity waned. Ralph's second son, Matthew, married Lucy Brooksby and there is no evidence that he had any children. Ralph's fourth son, Robert, married Alice Gates and moved to his wife's manor of Britwell 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.

The family line in Leicestershire therefore became the children of Ralph's third son, John. He 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 area of Muston in Leicestershire where their descendants can be found today.  According to Ian Payne, 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.  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 a tenant.

However, 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, 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.

Margaret Woodford - The Leicestershire heiress

Inn Sign at the Carington Arms, Ashby Folville
Inn Sign at the Carington Arms, Ashby Folville

At the time of Ralph Woodford's death, Margaret was married to Thomas Morton. It seems that she had first been married to a John Turville who died soon after their marriage. She was then married to his brother William Turville.

The legality of this marriage was questioned in the Court of Audience before Archbishop Morton and consequently she was taken from William Turville and married to Thomas Morton, the archbishop's nephew. The motives behind this judgement by the archbishop seem questionable, to say the least.

The manor of Brentingby passed to the Mortons in 1487 on the death of Margaret's father, William. William died on 28 July 1487 and his Inquisition Post Mortem revealed that Margaret, then aged eight years, was to inherit Brentingby, Wyfordby, Freeby and Garthorpe `held of Ralph'. Margaret and Thomas Morton had one son, John. He was born 1498 and died 1521. He married Ellen Roper.

An inquisition dated 15 August 1522 and quoted by Burton noted that a John Morton `died 21 August 1521 possessed of Sproxton [ ...] land at Melton [...] and the manor of Wyfordby'. His only daughter, Mary Morton was born after his death on 15 February 1522 and she married a Francis Smith. She died in Croydon in 1568. Consequently, the bulk of the family's manors, land and property passed out of the Woodford family into the first of two families adopting the name Smith-Carington.