The Proprietors of the Northern Neck
Chapter 4a - Feckenham
In the hall of the moated grange of Astwood, in the midst of the Forest
(and parish) of Feckenham on the eastern border of Worcestershire, there is carved in the
wainscoat an index hand pointing mysteriously to the deeply incised name "John
Cvlpeper." The local traditional explanation is that the bearer of that name was
buried beneath the hall floor early in the seventeenth century, whence his ghost
periodically flits to a certain cloven pear tree in the garden.44 Doubtless this John Culpeper's ghost does haunt Astwood, for he loved that
picturesque house, where he long lived, but to the genealogist the duty remains to record
that his bones repose among his own people in Hollingbourne church in Kent.
This transplantation of the Culpeper name to Worcestershire was a consequence of the
career of one of the younger sons of William10 of WigselI.
XI. Martin Culpeper (William10 of WigselI),
1540-1605, of Feckenham, co. Worcester, was named in his father's will
(1559) as 'Martin Culpeper, my third son.' He was sent to Winchester school in 1553 when
he was 13, and the following year, like his brother Francis, was appointed a Scholar on
Bishop Wykham's foundation, being then recorded as born at Barfreston, Kent (Kirby, Winchester
Scholars, 1888, p. 132) . Thence he proceeded to New College, Oxford, again on a
Scholarship of the foundation, and there made an academic career of the highest
distinction. While he took orders, he specialized in medicine. Foster (Alumni Oxon)
collects his degrees and preferments as 'Fellow of New Coll Oxon., 1559-68; B.A., 1562;
M.A., 1566; B.Med., 1568; D.Med., 1571; Warden of New Coll., 1573-99; Vice Chancellor,
1578; rector of Stanton St. John, co. Oxford, 1576; dean of Chichester, 1577-1601; rector
of Colern, co. Wilts, 1588; archdeacon of Berks, with rectory of North Moreton, 1598.'
On the profits of these pluralities, he made several important acquisitions of real
estate, including the purchase, in 1595, of the manor of Astwood in Feckenham, co.
Worcester (Victoria County History, Worcestershire, iii, 115), which he intended to
make the capital seat of his descendants.
He had married, probably in 1578, Lettice, dau. of Humphrey Clarke of Westhalks in
Kingsnorth, co. Kent (the m. is noted in the pedigree of Clarke of Westhalks, returned at
the Visitation of Kent, 1619) ; and by her had
i Sir Martin, 1580-1604, of Deane, co. Oxon.
He m. 1598 (Ph. Warzv., iii, 92) at Charlecote, co. Warw., Joyce, dau. of Sir
Edward Aston of Tixhall, co. Stafford by a Lucy of Charlcote; and by her had Martin, who
was bur. in Feckenham, September 8, 1605, as 'Marten the sonne of Sir Marten Culpep'; and
three daughters, two of whom survived him, He was knighted by James I at Whitehall, May
14, 1604 (Nichols, Progresses of James I, i, 438), and died a month later, aet.25,
leaving a nuncupative will, declared June 1, 1604, which was proved October 8, 1605, as
P.C.C. Hayes, 66.
His widow, who survived him and was buried in Feckenham, January 3, 1618/19 ('The Ladye
Joyce Culpep') leaving a will, P.C.C. Parker, 95, erected to him, in Feckenham
church, an elaborate altar tomb with recumbent figures, which were engraved for Nash (Worcestershire,
i, 156, 443), who gives the MI. as follows:
Under this monument lieth the body of Sir Martin Culpeper, of Deane, in the county
of Oxford, Knight, son and heir of Martin Culpeper of Astwood, esq., and Lettice the
daughter of Henry Clearck of Westhawke by Asheford in the county of Kent, esquire. He
married Joyce, the eldest daughter of Sir Edward Aston of Tix-hall in the county of
Stafford, Knight, and of Ann the only daughter of Sir Thomas Lucy, of Charlcote, co. War.,
Knight. He had issue one son and three daughters and left this life 26 June 1604: aetatis
suae 25. The lady Joyce Culpeper, in memory of his virtue, and in perpetual testimony of
her love, erected this monument.
ii Sir Stephen, 1581-1611, of Chipping Campden, co. Glouc. o.s.p.
The testimonies for him are the mention in his father's will of 'my Son Sir Stephen
C.;' his own will (P.C.C. Wood, 62) in which he describes himself as 'Stephen C. of
Campden, co. Glouc., Knight;' and the entry of his burial in Feckenham, July 13,
'Sr. Steaven Culpep, Knyght.' Neither Metcalfe, Nichols nor Shaw records his knighthood.
That he m. appears from the mention in his will of 'my wife, Elizabeth, ' and the
probate of that instrument by 'Dame Elizabeth C., relict and executrix' (who is not
otherwise identified), but it does not appear that he left issue. Not only is the
reference to him in his father's will qualified 'if he have issue a son,' but his own will
neither names nor makes provision for any children. That will was, however, dated July 11,
1606, and so it is not conclusive against subsequent issue. That there was no male issue
in any event appears conclusively by the fact that immediately after Stephen's death, John
Culpeper entered into possession of Astwood in pursuance of the provision of the will of
Dr. Martin Culpeper, contingent upon Stephen's death s.p.m.
iii Mercy, m. Sir Samuel Sandys (1560-1623), of Wickhamford, co. Worc.
Her father named her in his will 'my daughter Sandys,' and appointed 'my son-in-law Sir
Samuel Sandis of Ombersley, Worcs. Knight,' one of his trustees and executors. Her burial
in 1629 among the Sandys at Wickhamford, with an elaborate MI., is recorded by Nash (Worcestershire,
ii, 221, 462
Her husband was the eldest son of Archbishop Edwin Sandys by his second wife, Cicely,
dau. (by a second marriage) of the Thomas Wilford who had married Elizabeth, sister of
By this marriage Mercy Culpeper was included in the innermost circle of the founders of
Virginia. Her husband, long M. P., was a member of the Council of the Virginia Company, of
which his two younger brothers were officers: Sir Edwin Sandys (1561-1629) as Treasurer
and chief executive, and George Sandys (1577-1644), who translated Ovid while resident at
Jamestown, as Secretary. She was, moreover, herself the mother of that Margaret Sandys who
m. Sir Francis Wyatt (1588-1644), Governor of Virginia, 1621-26, and 1639-42. See Va.
Mag., xvii, 292.
A year after burying his eldest son, and a few weeks after burying his only grandson,
Dr. Martin Culpeper came himself to die, and, after making a will, was buried in
Feckenham, October 10, 1605, being recorded in the parish register as 'Martin Culpeper,
Doctr. in physicke.' There is no MI., but his will testifies for him.
P.C.C. Hayes, 88.
Will dated October 1, 1605
Proved December 12, 1605.
Martin Culpeper of Astwoode in prsh. of
Feckenham, co. Worcs., Doctor of Physic: All lands I have in cos. Oxford,
Worcester, Berks, Sussex, etc. in England to my son in law Sir Samuel Sandis of Ombersley,
Worcs. knight, Lettice C. my wife, Walter Culpeper of Hanborow esq. my brother & John
Culpepper of the Middle Temple London, utter barrister, my nephew in fee in trust for sd.
wife Lettice: to have for her maintenance Astwood House furnished as it is and my lands at
Home Green, Love Lane & Wibbe Heath, with my stock at Woodbery in Oxfords., for life.
Devisees to receive rents of Parsonage of Feckenham. & of Osme & Walton &
Cripple nr. Oxford all which cometh very near to £200 by the year. If it want of the sd.
sum I will my daur. in law the Lady Culpepper, widow, & Lettice my wife to make up the
sum of £200 for 5 years, to make a stock for Lettice & Anne, the daurs. of my late
son Sir Martin C. knight dec.; sd. Sir S. Sandis to receive same. Another £1,000 to be
raised & then £1,200 to be pd. to sd. Lettice [the granddaur] at 19 & £1,000 to
sd. Anne at 19. Rest of money from sd. trust to daurs & younger children of my son Sir
Stephen C.; sd. son Stephen to have for life only, my houses & lands in Hanborow, co.
Oxon. He to have rents of Osme & Cripple. If he have issue a son, fee simple of my
lands at Hanborow & of parsonage there & my lease there, my brother Walter C.'s
estate & his wife's in the parsonage there. My manor of Astwood & fee lands at
Home Green to sd. son Sir Stephen C. from a year after death of my sd. wife for life, also
parsonage of Feckenham. for 100 years. If he have issue a son, then fee simple of sd.
manor, lands at Rome Green to him, also my lease of sd. parsonage. If sd. son die with out
issue male, then my house at Home Green & lands there to Martin Sandys my godson [and
grandson] in fee. House etc. at Wibbe Heath & Love Lane to John Sandys my daur's
youngest son, in fee. On death of sd. son S. s.p.m. all my sd. lands to such daurs.
of my daur. Sandys or my daur. Culpepper the widow, in fee as shall fortune to marry with
a Culpepper; paying out of same £30 a year to my nephew William, son of Richard Culpepper
my brother for life. After my sd. Wife's death, Manor of Astwood, parsonage of Feckenharn
& lands in Hanborow, shall come to my sd. nephew John Culpepper for life; & if he
have issue a son, fee simple of sd. lands to same son & lease of sd. parsonage; but if
sd. nephew die s.p.m. then sd. lands to William C., son of my late brother Richard,
for life; remr. to the eldest son of sd. nephew W. C. £10 a year to be given on St.
Martins day for poor of Feckenham until £50 be made up. To every one of the children of
my daur. Sandis 100 marks at age of 20. To Humphrey White & the Clerks of prsh. of
Feckenham succeeding him 6s. 8d. yearly for clean keeping of the chancel & tomb of Sir
Martin Culpepper, knight, there. To my brother Edmond C. the first advowson of the
parsonage of Staplehurst Kent where Dr. Newman now dwelleth. To sd. brother the 20 marks a
year he owes me for 24 or 25 years to come; he to pay my devisees £20 a year till he have
paid £160, which I paid for him long since to Mr. Every & Mrs. Fulce. My sd. son in
law Sir Samuel Sandys knight, my wife Lettice C., my brother Walter C. & my nephew
John Culpeper to be Exers. Whereas testator hath the advowson of divers benefices, they to
be offered to an honest man of New Coll Oxford when void. Witns. Walter Clarke, Timo.
Atwood, Richard Harris, Richard Bradsell.
Frob. by Lettice C. relict & one of the exers. Power
reserved to prove a codicil on the part of sd. Lettice when she can establish the truth of
the same; & also Power reserved to Samuel Sandys knight, Walter Culpepper & John
Culpepper the exers. to prove Will.
This will shows that in the last weeks of his life Dr. Culpeper realized the
disappointment of an ambition to establish his own issue at Astwood as a new and enduring
house of Culpeper; and therefore, to that end, turned his face towards that 'John Culpeper
of the Middle Temple, London, utter barrister, my nephew,' whom he named one of his
trustees and executors, and who was a younger son of the testator's own eldest brother.
Contemplating the failure of issue male by his surviving son, Sir Stephen, he provided
...after my said wifes's death, the manor of Astwood, parsonage of Feckenharn and
lands in Hanborow shall come to my said nephew John Culpeper for life and if he have issue
a son, fee simple of said lands to said son...
Thus it was that after the death of Sir Stephen in 1611, a younger son of
John"" of Wigsell, himself the father of two sturdy boys, became 'of Feckenham,'
with the confident expectation of realizing his uncle's ambition for that house and of
rooting his name in Worcestershire. He could not foresee the civil wars already brewing,
and the consequence that both his sons were destined to die in the far distant Virginia in
which that John12 had himself inaugurated a family interest.
XII. John Culpeper (John11
of Wigsell), 1565-1635, of Feckenham, second surviving son of his
generation, makes his first appearance on the existing record as 'my brother John
Colepipir's son, my godson,' in the 1581 will of his maternal uncle, John Sidley of
Southfleet (P.C.C. Darcy, 31; Waters' Gleanings, ii, 969). In October, 1587,
or soon after the death of his brother William, when, according to the later testimony of
his tombstone, he would be 17 years of age, he was entered at the Middle Temple under the
description 'late of New Inn, gent... second son of John Colepeper of Wigsell, Sussex,
esq.' (Hopwood, i, 293). Unlike his eldest brother, whose record so far runs parallel, he
had entered upon a professional career. Duly called to the bar, by 1595 he was having his
youthful kinsmen 'bound' with him, and in 1599 is listed as a Bencher. Frequenting the
household of his uncle Francis at Greenway Court, he there met and married his first wife,
and after Francis' death established her at Greenway Court (then the property of his
younger brother Alexander), as appears from the baptism of one of his children in
Harrietsham; but later he occupied a house in Salehurst, as appears from his elder
brother's inq. p.m. already cited.
That his law practice was profitable, despite his reputation, recorded on his MI., for
composing more litigation that he fomented, appears from his ability to subscribe to the
Virginia Company under the charter of 1609; and a year later, under the third charter, to
make one of the largest individual subscriptions (£37, 10s. 6d.) to the 'supply' which
saved the colony at Jamestown from death by inanition (Brown, Genesis, 218, 407,
Having been designated, by the will of his uncle Martin, the contingent remainderman of
Astwood in Feckenham, he removed his family to Astwood after the inheritance had become
certain by the death without issue of his cousin Sir Stephen12; and there
buried his first wife in June, 1612. This occupancy was by arrangement with Dr. Martin
Culpeper's widow, who had a life estate but had meanwhile re-married and removed her
residence elsewhere. In 1616 he bought out that aunt's interest, and then gave over his
law practice to become a country gentleman. Being now 'of Feckenham,' he became a diligent
presiding magistrate at quarter sessions; being included, a generation ahead of Sir Roger
de Coverley, of the quorum in the Worcestershire commission from 1618-1628; again, like
Sir Roger, in 1624 he served the office of Sheriff of that county 'with music before me, a
feather in my hat and my horse well bitted' (Bund, Cal. Quarter Sessions Papers,
Worcestershire, 1591-1643, 1900; Sheriff Lists in Fuller's Worthies).
But when he was nearly seventy years of age, for what reason does not appear, he sold
Astwood to one Thomas Rich, and returned to Greenway Court to die. There, on December 14,
1635, he made his will and on December 18th following, as the parish register testifies,
'Mr. John Culpeper, Armiger,' was buried in the chancel of Hollingbourne church.
His will was as follows:
P.C.C. Pile, 4
Will dated December 14, 1635
Proved January 23, 1635/6.
John Culpeper of Greenway Court, co.
Kent, esq. To he bur. in the Chancel of the Church of
Hollingbourne where Sir Thomas Culpepper shall think fit. To my wife Ann C. bed
in the wainscoat chamber, all debts owing to her as Admix. of her former
husband, except the debt owing by the Lord Lambert and Lady Lambert; which I
bequeath to my son Thomas C., hereby confirming his actions for compounding sd.
debt. To my son John C., £30 Rent charge payable by Sir John [afterwards first
lord] Culpeper during my son John's life. To my daur, Sicely C., £300 & £20
[annuity]. To James Medlicote my son in law and Frances Medlicote my daur, 20s.
each. My [eldest] son Thomas C. to be exer., and to him my personal estate.
Witnesses: Tho. Culpeper [i. e., Sir Thomas12 of Hollingbourne],
Alexander Culpeper [i. e., Sir Alexander12 of Greenway Court], John
Culpeper [i. e., Sir John13, soon to be first Lord], William Cragge [i.
e., the vicar of Hollingbourne].
Prov. by Thomas C., son & exer.
His brother Sir Alexander subsequently erected to his memory in the Culpeper Chapel of
Hollingbourne church the following MI., which, it will be observed, contains several
misstatements of fact, viz:
Joh(ann)es Culpeper de Fakenharn in Com(itatu) Wigorn(ense) Ar(miger), filius
secundus Johannis de Wigsell, vicesimo Decembris Anno D(omi)ni 1635, Aetatis 70. Corpus in
cancello adjacente sepultum humo animam Creatori reddidit. Optimus vir et Cives, Juris
admodum peritus, unde tantum, hoc pium sibi lucrum fecerit ut amicis jurisconsulti
pacifici proximis officiurn praestaret.
Uxorem duxit Ursulam Thomae Woodcock, Aldermanni Londinensis et Praetoris electi,
filiam, per quam liberos quatuor Thomam, Cecil, Johannem, et Franciscum, paternae pietatis
He m. 1st, 1600, Ursula (1566-1612), dau. of Ralph Woodcock, Alderman of
London, and widow of Solomon Pordage of Rodmersham, co. Kent,
She was bur. in Feckenham, June 2, 1612, as 'Ursula, the weiffe of John Culpep'
Esquier.' Her recital on the MI. in Hollingbourne as dau. of Thomas Woodcock is a
confusion of her father with her brother. She was bapt. in St. Lawrence Jewry, London,
January 27, 1565/6, as 'Ursula, dau. of Ralph Woodcock;' and the will of that Ralph, dated
September 1, 1580 (P.C.C. Windsor, 47), reciting himself to be 'citizen and
Alderman of London,' describes her as 'my daughter Ursula, now wife of Solomon Pordage.'
The identification is completed by an inquisition held at East Greenwich, October 23, 1599
(Chancery inq. p.m., Series 11, 256; 38), which found that Solomon Pordage of Rodmersharn
had died September 12, 1599, having made a settlement on the occasion of his m. in 1581
with Ursula, dau. of Ralph Woodcock.
Solomon Pordage's will (P.C.C. Kidd, 74) commended his wife to his kinsman,
William Stede of Harrietsham, and it was through the Stedes that the widow Pordage met her
and by her had
i Thomas, 1602?-1652?, of whom hereafter.
ii Cicely, 1604?-1664,. unmarried.
She was probably baptised in London, but the record has not been found. As a
consequence she first appears in her father's will (1635) as 'my dau. Sicely C.' As
'Cecil' she is entered the second child on the MI. in Hollingbourne. In the will of Sir
Alexander12 (1645) she appears as 'my neice Cicely C.'
Chester (Westminster Burials, Harl. Soc.) cites the burial in the cloisters of
Westminster Abbey, November 5, 1664, of 'Cicely Culpeper;' who, as may be demonstrated by
the process of elimination, can only have been this daughter of John12 of
iii John, 1606-1674, of Northampton,
He was baptised in Harrietsham, October 26, 1606, as Johannes, filius Johannis
Culpeper, arm.;' and on May 7, 1621, was admitted 'specially' to the Middle Temple as 'Mr.
John, second son of John Culpeper of Astwood, Worc. esq.' (Hopwood, ii, 662). He did not
pursue the law, but before 1633 had embarked in the Virginia trade;,being recorded in that
year as part owner, with his elder brother, of a new ship, the Thomas and John,
which was equipped with ordnance from the public stores in order to voyage to Virginia (Cal.
State Papers, Dom., 1633-34, p. 223, and Hotten, Original Lists, p. 83). He was named
in his father's will (1635) as 'my son John C.;' on his father's MI. in Hollingbourne as
'Johannem' the third child; and in the will of Sir Alexander12 as 'my nephew
John C. her (i. e., Cicely's) brother.'
His legacy under his father's will was a 'rent charge of £30, payable by Sir John
[afterwards first Lord] Culpeper during my said son John's life.' When, in 1651, the
Commonwealth was hearing claims upon the forfeited estate of Lord Culpeper, a John C.
appeared and, describing himself as a merchant who had been 'beyond seas' during the
Troubles, asserted his title to this rent charge, claiming that since 1645 he had received
only £75 (Cal. Com. Compounding, 1643-60. v, 3277). That this was John13
there can be no doubt.
A John Culpeper, sometime Sheriff, was, from 1671-1674, Clerk of Northumberland County,
Virginia (Bruce, Institutional History, i, 601; Wise, Eastern Shore, 101). About
1675 his widow, Mary, petitioned the Council for an allowance from his estate (Va. Mag.,
x, 378). Considering the evidence of relations with Virginia by John Culpeper of Feckenham
and both his sons, and the fact that no final record for the younger son, John, has
appeared in England, it is persuasive that he may be identified with the Clerk af
Culpepper Connections Note: While Fairfax
Harrison believed John may have died without issue, more recent research indicates that
John of Northampton may be the progenitor of most American Culpeppers.
iv Frances, m., 1626,-James Medlicote of Feckenham.
The Feckenharn register records the m., January 7, 1625/6, of 'James Medlico and
Francis Culpeper' and the baptism, May 22, 1627, of 'Urslye the dau. of James Meadlicoote,
gen.' She is named in her father's will (1635) 'Frances Medlicote, my daur.,' and in that
of Sir Alexander12 as 'my neice Medlicoate, wife of James M. esq.' On her
father's MI. she is entered 'Franciscum' the youngest child.
2d, Elinor (who d. February, 1623/4), dau. of William Norwood of Leckhampton, co.
Glouc., and widow of Sir George Blount of Sodington, co. Worc., s.p.
Because she had several Blount children, including the heir to Sodington, she was
buried among the Blounts in Mamble church (See the MI. in Nash, Worcestershire, ii, 161);
the available evidence for her Culpeper m. being the entry of her burial in the Mamble
register. Her significance on this record is that she brought the Culpepers a new link
with Virginia, for she was the aunt of Henry Norwood, the cavalier, whose romantic Voyage
to Virginia in 1649 is a classic of adventure (Force's Tracts, vol. iii, No. 10),
and who was, after the Restoration, the Treasurer of the colony. See Rudder, Gloucestershire,
p. 521 ; Fosbrook, Abstracts of Smiths Lives of the Berkeleys, p. 181; Nash, Worcestershire,
ii, 163; and Henry Norwood's will, 1689, P.C.C. Ent, 143.
3d, Ann, widow of Hugh Goddard, citizen and draper of London, s.p.
She is named 'my wife Ann' in John Culpeper's will (1635) ; and survived him ten years,
when her son Hugh Goddard administered upon her estate. See P.C.C. Admon. Act Book,
1645, where she is recited as 'Ann Culpeper, alias Goddard of St. Giles, Cripplegate.
(Continued in Chapter 4b)
44 Cf. Noake, The Rambler in Worcestershire, 1854, P. 148.
For a description of Astwood see Nash, Worcestershire, 1794, i 442. (Return)
02 Jan 2015