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Thomas Woodruff (Woodruffe)

Birthdate: (64)
Birthplace: Fordwich,Kent,England
Death: September 29, 1549 (64)
Immediate Family:

Son of Sir Richard Woodruffe, High Sheriff of York and Beatrice Woodruffe
Husband of Elizabeth Woodruff and Elizabeth Waterton
Father of William Woodruff; Thomas Woodruff; George Woodruff; Susan Gryce; Robert Woodruff and 3 others
Brother of Elizabeth Wentworth; James Woodruffe; John Woodruff; Beatrix Wentworth; Anthony Woodruffe and 3 others

Managed by: Geoffrey David Trowbridge
Last Updated:

About Thomas Woodruff

King Henry VII was at the end of his reign. The year was 1508. THOMAS WOODROVE’s name first appeared in the records of the Kentish town of Fordwich, the entry having been to note payment to the church wardens of the rent of his house, due to the church for the preceding year. Indicated by a deed of 1538 (Fordwich Muniments Chest, 9th, Henry VIII), he became a considerable property holder. Thomas Woderoff’s ownership included 2 messuages*, with 3 gardens, 30 acres of arable land, 5 acres of meadow, and 8 acres of wood, in Fordwich.

* A messuage is a “premise”, or a place to live. Example: there are no trees on the premises. 

The Abbot of St. Augustine’s Monastery, outside the walls of Canterbury, was Lord of the Manor of Fordwich, and claimed many rights within the Liberty (Borough) which were at variance with what the Mayor and Commonalty considered to be their chartered privileges. One obnoxious claim to which they had to submit was that the Abbot’s bailiff must be present whenever the Mayor held court. In 1510, it was to summon a non-resident bailiff from his home that our ancestor was despatched with all speed to the neighboring Isle of Thanet. A few years after he rode on a longer, more hazardous, journey, with a therefore needed companion, to Westminster, so that, as trusted envoy of the town, he might pay a fine incurred by his fellow townsmen into the King’s exchequer. Because in later days such duties were almost invariably entrusted to the town clerk, while there was then no office with that title, he was probably acting in that capacity.

If so, it would have been in the line of promotion that he was a Jurat* in 1538, when, during Henry VIII’s suppression of the greater monasteries, St. Augustine’s estates were given over to the rapacity of the King and his courtiers.
* The only existing Jurats are “judges and legislators appointed for life” (Century Dictionary). In Fordwich, the Jurat seems to have been Magistrate and Municipal Councillor in one. 

In the following year, Thomas Woodrove sat with his fellow magistrates at Fordwich to arrange for the conveyancing to the favored courtiers of a portion of the possessions of those against whom the Liberty had so long struggled for its privileges.


Fordwich, Kent, England, a quaint little town situated on the right bank of the river Stour, once far-famed for its delicious sea-trout, two or three miles below the city of Canterbury, of which, in the long ago, it was the port. For now an inland village, in Saxon days it was at the head of a tidal estuary; so the early Kentish kings made it a customs station, whose commercial importance declined as silt made the river less navigable.

It was the “little burgh which is called Forewic,” when the Domesday survey was made in the year 1085. Later it became a member of the Cinque Ports’ confederacy. Some time between the years 1218 and 1292 it obtained full corporate privileges (a list of its annually elected mayors, beginning with the latter year, has, with much labor, been compiled from the existing records); but for centuries its burgesses had to struggle for their rights against the encroachments of their ecclesiastical and other overlords. As the times changed, and Fordwich became a mere hamlet, the governing body gradually outlived its usefulness. Finally, by the Municipal Reforms Act of 1883, it ceased to be “at once the smallest and one of the oldest of the Kentish municipalities.”
Web Address:
Map of Fordwich, Kent, England
Lat: 51:17:55N (51.2985) Lon: 1:04:58E (1.0827) 


The first of the name recorded was Thomas Woodrove (Woodreeve), who resided at Fordwich (Kentshire) in England during the reign of Henry VII. He died there in 1553. He is shown in the town records as a property owner of considerable amount, and a deed dated 1538 makes Thomas Woodroffs owner of two messuages, five acres of meadow land, and eighteen of forest, situated in Fordwich. There is record made of him relative to payment to church wardens of the rent of his house which the church owned, payable in advance for preceding year. Thomas Woodrove was a rider or envoy for the court, his duty being to take long journeys to summons different members of the court. The mayor of Fordwich and the commons were distinctively at ends with the abbot of the monastery of St. Augustus, who held sway and claimed his authority and many rights in the district; and one paticular claim which they were obliged to submit to, was that the abbot's bailiff should be present at court holdings presided over by the mayor. This proved wholly obnoxious to his lordship, and on such an occasion Thomas Woodrove in 1510 became a rider for the court to summon the bailiff of the Isle of Thanet. He became a person in whom the court had full confidence. He performed many duties of town clerk and was a recognized factor in his town. He became a jurat in 1538, during the time of King Henry VIII, when he put down the monastery rule to be given over to his followers. In 1539 we find by the records that Thomas Woodrove became a magistrate at Fordwich and sat with his followers, who were his seniors, and it was at this time that he and his associates acted on a bill in favor of the courtiers that would convey to them many of the proper possessions. Among his children was William, mentioned below.

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Thomas Woodruff's Timeline

Age 22
Fordwich, Kent, England
Age 23
Age 25
Age 35
Woolley, Yorkshire, England
Age 40
Wakefield, UK
Age 62
Fordwich, Kent, , England
September 29, 1549
Age 64