Samuel Woodforde DD

Revd Samuel Woodforde DD (from a miniature by Thomas Flatman). Courtesy Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge
Revd Samuel Woodforde DD (from a miniature by Thomas Flatman). Courtesy Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge

Samuel Woodforde was the eldest of the fourteen children born to Robert Woodforde and Hannah Woodforde nee Haunch. 

He and his brother John (the only children of the family to survive to adulthood) were taken as young boys to their mother's family home in London to escape the disease and infections prominent in Northamptonshire at that time.

He was baptised on 15 April 1636 at the church of All-Hallows-in-the-Wall, London and brought up by his grandparents.


Samuel followed his maternal grandfather's political and religious convictions in the established church and the monarchy rather than his father's staunch puritan and parliamentary beliefs.

He became the first member of the family to attend a major public school having been admitted to St Paul's in 1647. He also became the first Woodforde to attend an Oxford college after matriculating as a commoner to Wadham College in July 1654.   He graduated with a BA degree on 6th February 1657 and was admitted as a student to the Inner Temple in 1658.

In 1661 Samuel inherited the manor of Westcotte near Binstead in Hampshire from his great-uncle Edmund Heighes.  Samuel's mother, Hannah, was the daughter of Robert Haunch of London, by Hannah his wife, daughter of Edward Heighes and niece of Sir Nicholas Heighes of Heighes House, Binstead, Hants.  A condition of the inheritance was that he should be obedient to his grandmother and aunt, especially in the choice of a wife.   For many years he was much troubled by lawsuits brought against him by the Heighes family.  The Westcotte property finally passed to Samuel's grandson, Samuel Woodforde of Ansford, Somerset.  He in turn was forced to mortgage it and by 1725 it had passed out of the family into the possession of the chief mortgagee, Thomas Ridge of Portsmouth.

During the summer of 1659, Thomas Flatman, whom Samuel had met at the Inner Temple as a fellow student, introduced him to the Beale family.  He later lodged with Charles and Mary Beale who, with their two young sons, occupied a large residence in Hind Court near Fleet Street in London. He became acquainted with Alice Beale, daughter of the Revd Theodore Beale and a niece of Charles Beale.   They married on 10th October 1661 after having finally obtained the approval of the Heighes family.

In 1662, a daughter, Alice, was born, followed by a son, Heighes, on 9th January 1663/4. Sadly, Alice died a few days later from 'post-delivery sepsis'.

He married secondly, on 5 February 1666, Mary Norton, the daughter of John Norton of Benstead, by whom he had four more sons, namely Samuel, John, Robert and William. 

In November 1664 Samuel was elected to the Royal Society, which had received its royal charter only three years previously.  In January 1669 he took holy orders and in 1673 was presented by Sir Nicholas Stuart to the benefice of Hartley-Maudit in Hampshire.

His career within the church continued with his appointment as a canon at Winchester on 27 May 1676 and of Winchester on 8 November 1680. He received the degree of Doctor of Divinity by diploma from Archbishop Sancroft in 1677. 

The seal and signature of Samuel Woodforde
The seal and signature of Samuel Woodforde

Samuel was a prolific poet and writer.  His chief works were `The Paraphrase upon the Psalms' and `The Paraphrase upon the Canticles'. Copies of several of his works are lodged in the Bodleian Library as follows including 'A Paraphrase on Psalms of David' (Ps CXlX Pt12 lacking), which has a couplet from his brother (?) Robert. 588pp., Precem Privatarum Horarium - Breviary adapted for Anglican use by Samuel. 280pp.and his diary (17 October 1663 to 5 February 1604) purchased by the library in 1963. 239pp.   This covers the time of the death of his first wife and records the depression, loneliness and despair that Samuel suffered following her death. It is inscribed `Liber Dolorosus'

The Woodforde papers in the archives of New College Oxford include a copy of "A Paraphrase upon the Psalms of David" by Samuel Woodforde.  This document contains 28 pages of autobiographical information which relate in part to his childhood in Northamptonshire.

Samuel Woodforde died at Winchester on 11 January 1700.  His eldest son Heighes Woodforde (1664-1724) also became an ordained minister.  He served as vicar of Epsom and as a canon at Chichester.  It was Heighes' eldest son, the Revd Samuel Woodforde (1695-1771) who married Jane Collins and established the family in Ansford, Somerset.  Their second son, was the diarist, the Revd James Woodforde.

A first edition (1667) of Samuel Woodforde's 'A Paraphrase upon the Psalms of David'
A first edition (1667) of Samuel Woodforde's 'A Paraphrase upon the Psalms of David'