4a. Feckenham
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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, 1611, as '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 William Culpeper10.

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 that

...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.

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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, 546).

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 haeredes reliquit.

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 second husband.

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 Feckenham.

iii John, 1606-1674, of Northampton, Virginia.

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 Northampton.

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)

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44 Cf. Noake, The Rambler in Worcestershire, 1854, P. 148. For a description of Astwood see Nash, Worcestershire, 1794, i 442. (Return)

Last Revised: 02 Jan 2015


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