This website assumes that the Woodforde family of Ansford in Somerset descended from the Woodforde family of Leicestershire.  Hence all references to the family - people and places - prior to c.1500 relate to the Leicestershire family.  It may be worth mentioning at this point that the spelling of the surname with a final 'e' is unique to the Ansford family.  

A printed pedigree in Dorothy Heighes Woodforde's Woodforde Diaries and Papers, begins chronologicallty with John Woodford of Scaldwell in Northamptonshire married to Alice, who had a son, Robert Woodford.

Dorothy Heighes Woodforde
Dorothy Heighes Woodforde

This is also the starting point for an article by Roy Winstanley in his Parson Woodforde –The Life and Times of a Country Parson. He states unequivocally that John Woodford of Scaldwell came from the nearby village of Woodford and - supporting Dorothy Heighes Woodforde's pedigree - that Robert Woodford was his son.

However, the will of John Woodford of Scaldwell, dated April 1513 and written in Latin, does not provide support for Winstanley's view:

  • The will refers to Robert as 'my brother' (frater), not 'my son' (filius).
  • The will refers to his wife, Agnes, and children Eusebius, Katrine, Elizabeth, and Alice.

Winstanley offers no other evidence except the suggestion that John Woodford of Scaldwell and his descendants were simple yeoman farmers who could not be of the same family as the prosperous and influential landed gentry of the Leicestershire family.

Yet it would seem unusual for the will of a yeoman farmer in 1513 to be written in Latin and signed with his name (not 'his mark'), thus indicating he was literate and could pay for a scribe to create his will.  Also, only three generations later, his descendant, another Robert Woodford, would marry Jane Dexter, the daughter and heiress of the nearby manor of (W)Old. This would seem a major upward step in society for a yeoman farmer.

As far as we know from surviving documents, it was Robert and Jane's son who was the first to state in writing that he was descended from the Leicestershire family through what we would now define as a cadet branch, possibly from a younger son who was disinherited. This accords with the structure of the Leicestershire Woodford family in the sixteenth century where disputes over marriages resulted in bitter legal action to disinherit the rightful heir to the family's land and property.

John Woodford of Scaldwell's will leaves part of his estate to (my brother) Robert. This would suggest that John's children had not reached adulthood, and that he was entrusting their wellbeing to his (younger) brother. We have no record of Eusebius. Did he receive some of his father's inheritance if, and when, he came of age?