Ursula Woodcock Culpepper – Culpepper Saga

Culpepper_1This post is in place of my usual “Saturday Snippets,” and is the second installment of the background of the people and places in my coming series, The Culpepper Saga. You can read the first installment here.

Ursula Woodcock Culpepper is one of the more sentimental characters in my coming series. She was our hero’s mother, and sadly, is only in the first book, “I, John Culpepper.” She was my 11th great grandmother.

astwoodUrsula was born to Ralph Woodcock, the Alderman of London, and his wife Good Bower in 1566. She was baptized at St. Lawrence Jewry in London on January 27, 1566. Her father’s will describes her as “my daughter Ursula, wife of Solomon Pordage.” Ursula and Solomon married in 1581, when Ursula was a child of fifteen.  Solomon Pordage died September 12, 1599 and his will commended his wife to his kinsman, William Stede of Harrietsham. Solomon’s sister, Joan Pordage, was married to a Culpepper and Ursula probably met her second husband, John Culpepper of Feckenham, at family gatherings long before she was widowed. Note: This is John Sr., not our hero John, and in the book I refer to him as Johannes, as that is what is written on his tombstone.

Ursula and Johannes had four children: Thomas, Cicely, John (our hero), and Frances. When the children were small, between the ages of four and ten, the family left their home in Kent and moved to Astwood Court in Feckenham (photo) so Johannes could retire and become a “country gentleman,” but they lived there for less than a year when Ursula took ill and died. She was buried at St. John the Baptist Church in Feckenham on June 2, 1612 as “Ursula, the wife of John Culpepper, Esquire.” She was forty-six years old.download

In the first book in the Culpepper Saga, “I, John Culpepper,” the following is what Johannes thought of his lovely wife. The book will be released April 10, 2015.


He pushed open the heavy door a few inches and peeked through the crack. The room was dim with all the heavy curtains drawn. It was quite different up here than the sunshine-filled bustle of the rest of the house. The room was quiet and warm, with the soft flickering light of candles dancing on the tapestries that covered the walls. He called out, “Ursula?”

“Johannes? Is that you? Please, please, come in.”

Her golden voice was as sweet as an angel’s, and that made him smile. He’d married her because of her cheerful voice—well, that and her family’s money. The Woodcock family had more manors and land than the Culpeppers, and the time-honored tradition of marrying heiresses and widows was generally the way the Culpepper men gained their fortunes. But Ursula had something else about her that Johannes loved. She was warm-hearted, with a gentle smile and soft manner. He had initially been attracted to her by the way she said, “Good morning,” and “Good evening,” and particularly the way she said, “Johannes.” Words floated from her lips as if they were lyrics she was singing just for him. Her voice had a happy lilt that filled his heart the way nothing else did. Today, it made him happy to be home.

He swung the door wide, entered the lavishly appointed room, and found Ursula sitting up in the four-poster bed, wearing a soft white gown that floated over her petite frame. A stack of pillows rested behind her back and her legs were covered with a brightly colored velvet quilt. Her hair was plaited on either side of her face, and Johannes was momentarily awed by how peaceful she looked. Childbirth agreed with her.

Her expression was one of excitement and anticipation as she held their newborn in her arms, and her smile grew more radiant as he approached the bed. “It’s a son,” she said.


5 responses to “Ursula Woodcock Culpepper – Culpepper Saga

  1. Pingback: Katherine St. Leger – Culpepper Saga | a day in the life of patootie

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  5. Pingback: Nice House, Gramps! | Lori Crane

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