FORD, William (d.1418), of Weymouth and Dorchester, Dorset.
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Family and Education
s. of Walter Ford of Weymouth. m. Alice, s.p.
Commr. to search ships, Weymouth Apr. 1387.
Tax collector, Dorset Mar., Nov. 1388.
Bailiff, Weymouth Mich. 1397-8, Dorchester 1410-11, 1414-15.1
Ford’s early career centred on Weymouth where he traded in cloth and wine. In September 1379, for example, he shipped at least 27 cloths from Melcombe Regis, the neighbouring port, in La Plentee of Southampton.2 In April 1387, in pursuance of a royal ordinance forbidding the export of gold and admittance of papal bulls, he and Nicholas Fleet, his fellow MP of 1384, were commissioned to search ships in Weymouth harbour. It was as ‘of Weymouth’ that Ford was later appointed as a collector of parliamentary subsidies in the shire as a whole. He was chosen as a bailiff of the town presumably while absent at Westminster attending the first session of the second Parliament of 1397.
It was soon after the turn of the century that Ford took up residence in Dorchester. In 1407 he acquired a tenement in High West Street from William Peverell, lord of the manor of Bradford Peverell, and in the following year he took possession of another in South Street from William Ash*. The widow of Thomas Gardener* appointed him as her attorney to deliver seisin of property in the town in 1410, and in the same year and once again in 1414-15 he served as bailiff there. Ford attested many deeds enrolled in the borough court, and in October 1414, during his second bailiffship, he was one of four delegates who reported to the shire court the results of the local parliamentary elections. Ford was sometimes required to act as a feoffee of property in Dorchester, and also as an executor, performing the latter service for Maud, widow of John Westpray* and mother-in-law of William Clerk I* of Weymouth. Although in 1413 he had sold a house in West Street for £8, he continued to acquire property elsewhere in Dorchester, all the while retaining his holdings in Weymouth.3
Ford made his will on 10 June 1418, leaving to his widow property in Dorchester as well as a croft on the Isle of Portland, and to John Jordan of Wolfeton and his heirs all his other land in Portland except for a virgate on ‘la Pury’ which was to pass to another William Ford, his cousin. He died before 14 Nov., when the will was exhibited in court at Dorchester. Within a year his widow had married one Thomas Hopekyn.4