Sir William Woodford of Brentingby

Walter Woodford, the eldest son of John of Brentingby, died before his father.  Consequently, the lands and properties acquired by John passed to his younger son William.

However, a deed dated 1357 records a grant by the Prior and Convent of St Pancras, Lewes, to Walter, son of John Woodford of a tenement that Walter Prest held in Melton along with some other property `with a remainder in succession to Walter's brother William and Joan his wife' This is dated at Lewes on SS Simon and Jude, 31 Edw III.

The former Brentingby Chapel
The former Brentingby Chapel

According to the cartulary, in 1362:

`John de Woodford sold and alyenyd the sayd manor of Brentyngby Thorpe arnold Wyfordby & Stapulforth with theyr appertannces' to William, `ellys had is byn alyenyd to Sir Arnold Boys knight & lord of thorpe arnold.'

John of Brentingby was therefore still living in 1362 which contradicts several pedigrees in the possession of the Woodforde family that state he died in 1333. This date was, in fact, the year in which his wife Alice died.

William Woodford is described by the Woodford Cartulary as `a fulle discrete man and sufficiently lernyd in the law'. He was appointed a Sergeant-at-Law, thus becoming a member of what was then an elite and superior order of barristers. According to Nichols he was knighted in 1353 on payment of 15s to Sir William Zouch of Harringworth, who held Thorpe Arnold.

The earliest evidence of William being active in the managing of the family's estates is given by the cartulary, which records that in 1324:

`Robert Orger released to Walter Prest all his right to a messuage in Melton, whose estate William Woodford purchased.'

There is evidence that from about 1350 William was very active in expanding the family's estates, with the assistance until about 1362 of his father.

William married Joan Brabazon, daughter of Sir John Brabazon of Eastwell and Sproxton. This marriage marked the first alliance between the Woodford family and a notable Leicestershire family, and through it William acquired the manors of Garthorpe and Sproxton in Leicestershire and lands in Uttoxeter, Co.Staffs.  The cartulary states that:

`Joan, daughter and heir of Sir John Brabazon brought (Garthorpe) in marriage to William de Woodford ... and it was found (at the Inqusition Post Mortem of 1455 of William's grandson Sir Robert Woodford) that Roger de Brabazone, knight, gave his manor to William le Brabazon his nephew; who had issue John le Brabazon who had issue Joan his daughter and heir, who married William Woodford.'

Joan Brabazon was descended from Sir William Trussel of Cubleston, Co.Staffs. Her paternal grandfather William Brabazon had married Sir William Trussel's daughter Genet or Jeanette Trussel.  Nichols recorded that at the upper end of the North aisle of Thorpe Arnold church was sited a `large flat stone whereon has been a portraiture, the verge circumscribed `GUILLAM DE WOODFORD DE BRENTINGBY ET JAME SA FEME ... MCCCCL.' There is now no trace of the stone. The date recorded by Nichols (1450) is either wrong or the stone related to a later Woodford descendant.

As late as 1730 there was a glass in the church showing the arms of the Folville family in the upper window on the north side of the nave aisle. In the middle window on the south side were the arms of the lords of the manor of Thorpe Arnold, presumably the Woodford family.

In 1352, William acquired further land in Wyfordby, Burton Lazars, Stapleford and Knossington. The Records of the Borough of Leicester include a grant from an Alicia Chevercourte of her manor of Wyfordby together with the advowson of the church and the manor's holdings in other areas of the county.

In 1355, again according to the cartulary, Hugh de Chenchian, Prior of Lewes, and his brethren, constituted William (as well as Sir William of Burgh) as a steward of the parsonage of Melton and of all the priory's lands and tenements in Melton. William was granted a yearly stipend of 40 shillings and a coat of arms (or 16s 8d in lieu of it) as a salary for life.  William is a signatory of a title deed in the Gretton (Sherard) manuscript collection dated 15 October 1364.

William died on 22 July 1369. He was survived by three married daughters and by his son and heir, John, who at the time of his father's death was eleven years of age. The relevant section of the cartulary provides a family pedigree from John of Brentingby:

Also ye shall truly and faithfully understand and Know for truth evermore that the said William of Woodford my Grandsire that purchest the lordship of Gnypton with the advowson wedded Jenet the daughter And the heir of Sir John Brabazon, knight and Lord of Sproxton. And the said William Woodford was a fulle Discrete mind and sufficiently lernyd in the law.

And was chosen for to have ben sy(rg)eant in law. And then he dyed seised in fee symple of all hys Purchest land in Gynpton. And in other diverse Manors lands & tenementes in other towns and Countreys that was purchest by his father olde John Of Woodford. And by other Anncestres of his and by his own purchesse as ye may truly and faithfully Fynde by divers fynes and by sufficient dedes and Wele enselyd in waxe ... And he and Jenet his Wyffe hadde issue John de Woodford my fader.

And he Dyed seised in the same landes in fee symple. And So I Robt Wodford sone & heir to hym siesed in fee Symple have gyffyn be fyne all the landes ... to Rauf of Wodford my own son .....'

Hence, the cartulary is in accord with the pedigrees in Nichols and others regarding the basic male descent:

John - Died c.1362
William - Died 22 July 1369
John - 11 November 1358 - 1400/1
Robert - 1383-1455


Revd Michael T. H.Banks, Thorpe Arnold - The Story of its Church and People, 1980.
M.Bateson, Ed., Records of the Borough of Leicester, Vol II, 44, No 137. 12 December 1352.