Revd Robert Woodforde (1675-1762)

Robert Woodforde was the youngest son of Revd Samuel Woodforde DD (1636-1700) and his second wife, Mary (Norton).  It is assumed that Robert was named after his grandfather Robert Woodforde (1606-1654), the former Court Steward of Northampton.

He was educated at Winchester School and New College, Oxford. He was the first member of the Woodforde family to move to Somerset.

Robert married Joan Farwell of Holbrook House in Wincanton, Somerset. Her brother (or nephew), Samuel Farwell, was appointed rector of St Peter & St Paul, Wincanton in 1742.

Robert was rector of Yeovilton from 1716 until he was appointed a residentiary canon of Wells (in Somerset) on 16 November 1732, He served as Canon Treasurer until his death in April 1762. 

The diocesan records indicate the location of Robert Woodforde's residence in Wells:

1749, Sept. 7

Collation of John Walker, M.A., prebendary of Combe II, to the canonical house heretofore in the occupation of one Richard Bourne, within the liberty, abutting on the house and garden of the late college called Mountroy College on the east, on the canonical house and garden of Robert Woodforde, one of the canons residentiary, on the west, and on a close late in the tenure of William Baron, gent., on the north. 

[Ledger, 1740–1760, p. 297.]

A further record refers to his successor:

1762, April 10.

Collation of William Ray, clerk, M.A., to a canonical house on the east part of Canon Barn, within the Liberty of St. Andrew, lately occupied by Robert Woodforde, clerk, LL.B., deceased. 

[Ledger 1761–77, p. 17.]

Pages from the Sermon Book of Revd Robert Woodforde
Pages from the Sermon Book of Revd Robert Woodforde

At the time of Robert's birth on 1 April 1675, his father wrote:

My Son Robert was born & immediately Christened, the whole company of women who were with my Wife despayring of his life. But blessed bee God he immediately recovered & is now a lusty child. 

Some details of Robert's boyhood are recorded in the diaries of his parents. An entry in Mary Norton's diary, (in which she calls him Robin) his ill health is graphically described:

Now has ye small pox, and later a great cough & all his armes & leggs full of pimples.

Mary was also concerned that Robin would suffer injuries from falling off his horse which he was inclined to ride recklessly.

There are two references to 'the treasurer' in the diaries of the Revd James Woodforde, who was a great-grandson of Revd Samuel Woodforde DD and his first wife, Alice (Beale):

June 15, 1762.

Went this morning early to Berkeley, where old Mrs. Prowse lives, about two miles beyond Froom and about sixteen miles from hence: I carried over with me three Mourning Rings that my Father gave me last night; to deliver one to old Mrs. Prowse, one to her son the Major, and one to ye Major's wife, in Remembrance of my late Uncle, the Treasurer, which were left them by a Particular Desire of my late Uncle the Treasurer. N.B. Old Mrs. Prowse of Berkeley, and my late Uncle the Treasurer, were very Intimate, and corresponded, when my good Uncle was living. Major Prowse is son to old Mrs. Prowse.

The second entry is twenty-four years later:

Sep. 19, 1786

Gave Brother Heighes this morning a Pair of Spectacles with a very handsome Tortoiseshell Case and Silver mounted—they were formerly the Treasurers I believe. Brother Heighes with his Son Willm and Daughter Juliana dined and spent the Afternoon with us.

The Bodleian Library, Oxford, holds a collection of Robert Woodforde's papers including interleaved and annotated volumes of a printed Bible (two volumes published in Oxford in 1697) and a book of Common Prayer (London, 1683).  The blank pages of the Bibles were used for a compilation of 'The Jewish history' about which there is no available information. However, the Sermon book (above) was for some years in the library of the distinguished academic and lawyer Meyer Sulzberger who spent some years teaching Jewish history.