Thomas Woodford of Bucks (born c.1484)

Thomas Woodford was the eldest son of Robert Woodford of Ashby Folville and Elizabeth Gate, daughter and heiress of Thomas Gate of Burnham, Bucks.

Thomas married Elizabeth Blount of Mapledurham, Oxon, the daughter of Richard Blount of Iver, Bucks. Elizabeth had been born about 1497, and they married in 1517.   They had four sons, James, Gamaliel, Thomas and Robert, and eight daughters.

St Peter's Parish Church, Burnham, Bucks
St Peter's Parish Church, Burnham, Bucks
Their family became well-known in the area of Brightwell, near Burnham. It was clearly a time of prosperity for the family, who were landowners and significant figures in the community.

Thomas Woodford was on very bad terms with Richard Hill, the lord of Boveney and of Dorney, whose anger he incurred in 1531 by inclosing 7½ acres on Hedgerley Hill, ploughing up the 'meres, merks and boundyng' and writing to him in the following wise:

'Master Hyll, I ame enfourmed that you have been oons or twyse at my grounds att Heggeley Hyll rydyng abought the same with your tennants and varelets. If I fynde yowe after that maner ther ageyn I wyll make yow to goo a fote to Dorney or yt shall coste me my lyffe.'

The VCH (Bucks III) includes this account of the continuing disputes betweeb Thomas and Richard Hill:

'Richard Hill was lord of Dorney in 1530, (fn. 34) when he was accused by Thomas Woodford and others, inhabitants of Dorney, of having together with other ' ill-disposed and myschievous persons' inclosed Dorney Wood with great hedges quickset and deep ditches and built a house in the wood wherein 'divers arrant theves' resorted with his consent and stole sheep and robbed travellers. He was also said to have cut off the legs of their cattle.

Richard Hill denied that the woods were ever common and said they had always been held in severalty by the owners of Dorney and Boveney Manors.  The bad feeling between Hill and Woodford culminated five years later in a quarrel over a 'great oke tree,' over 200 years old, growing on Dorney Green in Dorney Manor, which was cut down by Woodford and his servants 'in maner of warre arrayde.'

Hill's servants dragged the tree to Dorney manor-place, whereupon Woodford in most cruel and unlawful manner sent to a 'mynstrell called a taberer' to take his taber and to go 'pypyng into the seyd maner place.' The minstrel refused, but Woodford's servants dragged the tree out of the yard, and he himself 'daily doth bayte, hunte and chace with dogge' the cattle of Richard Hill.

More amicable relations were not encouraged by Woodford placing some of Hill's servants in the 'stokkys,' but Woodford defended his conduct by declaring that at a court held by the steward of the honour of Wallingford in Buckinghamshire fifteen honest men found Dorney to be a royal manor and that the green was therefore common, as waste grounds, to the tenants dwelling near by.'

The division of the land and property c.1450 in the hand of Robert Woodford (of Bucks)
The division of the land and property c.1450 in the hand of Robert Woodford (of Bucks)

A separate quarrel arose in 1596 between Helen Wentworth, the farmer of the demesnes of Burnham Abbey, and the Woodfords of Britwell over right of common in Abbess Park, which was said to extend between Hartley Wood and Court and Pennlands.

A quartered coat-of-arms from the Brightwell manuscript
A quartered coat-of-arms from the Brightwell manuscript

The Guildhall Library (London) holds a volume of material (Ms 1756) relating to Thomas Woodford and his father. It is made up of thirty-three pages in several hands containing illustrated arms of Woodford and related families. The inside wrapper contains a summary in the hand of Robert Woodford of the division of the family's estates in Leicestershire in the 1450s by his grandfather, Robert Woodford, and other information.

This document supplements material in the Woodford Cartulary (Cotton Claudius XIII). Robert Woodford was one of the contributors to this cartulary which appears to have passed to the Roper family through the marriages of Robert's niece, Margaret Woodford.