My 11th great grandpa was John Culpepper of Astwood in Feckenham. Not to be confused with his father John Culpepper of Wigsell, or his son John Culpepper the Merchant, or his grandson John Culpepper the Rebel.
John was born in 1565 in Salehurst, England in his father’s home, Wigsell Manor (pictured left). He was the second son, eventually totaling three brothers and at least one sister. He was seventeen years of age when he entered Middle Temple (a law school) and began a professional career as a lawyer, called to the bar in 1595, and listed as a Bencher in 1599.
He spent a lot of time at the home of his uncle Francis Culpepper (dad’s brother), whose home was Greenway Court (pictured right). Uncle Francis’s second wife was Joan Pordage. Her brother was Solomon Pordage, who died in 1599, leaving behind widow Ursula Woodcock Pordage. It was at Greenway Court where John first met the widow Ursula – probably before she was widowed as Uncle Francis died in 1591 and his wife Joan Pordage in 1598. John and Ursula didn’t marry until 1600.
John and Ursula set up house at Greenway Court while he ran a profitable law practice.
Within a few years, his uncle Martin (dad’s other brother) died in 1605. Martin had two sons, one who had died the year before, and the second who had no children of his own. John was bequeathed Astwood (pictured left) in trust to maintain for Martin’s widow. After the widow remarried and moved elsewhere, John made an arrangement with her to move Ursula and the family to Astwood. His family now totaled four children – Thomas, John (my 10th great), Cicely, and Francis. Sadly, Ursula died at Astwood and was buried there in June of 1612. He was now a widower with four small children, but apparently his law practice was doing well, as he bought out the aunt’s interest in 1616 and gave up practicing law to become a country gentleman.
That same year, he married Elinor Norwood. They had no children. She died eight years later in 1624. He then married Ann Goddard in 1625. She outlived him by ten years. Sometime before 1635, nearing the age of seventy, he returned to Greenway Court where he died 18 December 1635.
He is buried in the chancel of Hollingbourne Church (pictured right) among other members of the family – Francis 1591, Elizabeth 1626, Philippa 1630, Thomas 1634, Elizabeth 1635, Thomas 1637, Elizabeth 1638, Phillipa 1638, Thomas 1640, John Third Lord Culpepper 1641, Solomon 1647, Cicely 1651, Thomas 1661, Sir Thomas the Elder 1662, Doris 1662, Cecilia 1685, among other memorials, plaques, and graves.
(photos by my cousin Warren Culpepper 2000.)