ALFORD, John (1486/87-1562), of Bridport, Dorset.
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Family and Education
b. 1486/87, prob. s. of John Alford of Bridport. m. by 1539, Edith, 2s. 5da.1
Servant of Henry, Marquess of Exeter by 1528-39, under steward of Devon lands by 1528-39; cofferer, Bridport 1542-4, 1546-7, bailiff 1544-5, 1547-8, 1552-3, 1558-9, constable 1554-5.2
John Alford was probably the son of a Bridport butcher who in 1485 obtained a stall in the town for life. He did not, however, follow his father’s trade until middle age when his preferred career as an estate official ended abruptly with his master’s fall and execution. Evidently he was one of Exeter’s most trusted men since he held several minor posts (worth £4 13s.4d. a year) from the marquess and was regularly made an auditor for his accounts after 1532. The royal agents who surveyed Exeter’s property in 1539 were impressed by Alford whom they described as a ‘gentleman ... very meet and discreet’. He was admitted as a freeman of Bridport in 1541 or 1542, but clearly he had returned to his home town about the time of his master’s arrest because he appeared at its muster—as an able archer—in 1539. His administrative and financial experience made him an obvious candidate for the town’s highest appointments, and his return to Parliament as one of its Members in 1554 was the culmination of his municipal progress.3
To judge from his will Alford prospered as a butcher; and when bailiff he granted to his son a butcher’s stall in the market place to hold of the town for life. By his will, made on 15 May 1562, he bequeathed to his wife the use of his house in Bridport and all his lands in the parish of Symondsbury together with 100 ewes and wethers, 23 other beasts, and household stuff. He left to his two unmarried daughters £13 6s.8d. each, to his elder son the remainder to the house in Bridport and all the household stuff there, and to his younger son his title to lands in Loders, near Bridport. These two sons also inherited the residue of his goods and were constituted executors, and it was they who proved his will on 2 Nov. 1562.4
Ref Volumes: 1509-1558
Author: Helen Miller
- 1. Aged 52 in 1539, SP1/138, f. 130. Bridport ms 1290; PCC 26 Streat.
- 2. SP1/138, f. 130; Bridport doom bk. 190 passim to 226; Hutchins, Dorset, ii. 10.
- 3. Bridport ms 1290; 2641; SP1/138, f. 130; M. R. Westcott, ‘The estates of the earls of Devon, 1485-1538’ (Exeter Univ. M.A. thesis, 1958), 89-90, 302, 304; E36/29, p. 25.
- 4. Bridport 1232; PCC 26 Streat.