WICHFORD, Benedict (d.1433), of Romsey and Southampton.
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Family and Education
s. of John Wichford of Romsey. educ. Winchester college 1395-9. m. (1) by 1415, Isabel, wid. of John Butler of Southampton; (2) by Apr. 1429, Alice Smith, da. and h. of Maud, w. of Thomas Armorer* of Southampton.1
A native of Romsey, Wichford is first noted in 1395 when he became a scholar at Winchester college, it being perhaps intended that he should enter the Church. However, he chose the legal profession instead, and completed his training by 1408, then standing bail in Chancery for a litigant from Ogbourne St. George in Wiltshire. Two years later, as the right heir of William Wichford, he inherited lands in ‘Bathampton Wyly’ in the parish of Steeple Langford, also in Wiltshire, from a distant relative, Christine atte Mulle. Yet despite his new role as a landowner, by 1414 he had decided to settle in Southampton, where through marriage to the widow of a former mayor he was able to take over her lease of a site in Bugle Street. This he conveyed in January 1415 to the vicar of Holy Rood church and other trustees, saving to himself and his wife a messuage in St. Michael’s parish (probably the house which they afterwards occupied on the west side of French Street). Ten years later Wichford sold two dwellings and a garden in English Street. In April 1429 his second wife’s mother settled on him all her lands and property in Winchester, Petersfield and elsewhere in Hampshire, probably including the tenement in Tanner Street, Winchester, for which he subsequently paid rent to St. John’s hospital.4
Wichford’s main business as a lawyer was transacted in the local courts, or else concerned the transfer of ownership of property. But, as one of the attorneys officially appointed by the borough of Southampton, he went up to Westminster in 1414, 1415 (using the opportunity presented by his first election to Parliament) and 1417, on each occasion in order to pay the fee farm at the Exchequer.5 As part of his duties as bailiff, several times between 1419 and 1432 he is recorded as water bailiff, the officer given special responsibility for the collection of local customs in the port; and in the meantime, certainly in 1428-9, he served as Southampton’s attorney in the court of common pleas, for an annual fee of 13s.4d. Late in December 1433 a boat carrying two barrels of herring, two feather-beds and two bolsters Wichford had ordered docked at Southampton, but it would appear that he had recently died.6
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Author: L. S. Woodger
Variants: Wychford, Wychefort.
- 1. CCR, 1409-13, p. 120; Winchester Scholars ed. Kirby, 22; Black Bk. Southampton (Soton Rec. Soc. xiv), 1; Stowe 846, f. 153. In Queen’s Coll. Oxf. God’s House, R389 (1418-19) Wichford’s 1st w. is called Christine; in the following account, R390, she is named Christine in one place and Isabel in another, and in 1422 (R393) Isabel throughout.
- 2. J.S. Davies, Hist. Southampton, 173.
- 3. Stewards’ Bks. (Soton Rec. Soc. xxxv), i. 16.
- 4. CCR, 1405-9, p. 373; 1409-13, p. 120; God’s House, D531, R385; Black Bk. 1, 16, 36; Southampton RO, SC13/1/1; D.J. Keene, Surv. Winchester (Winchester Studies 2), ii. 775.
- 5. Southampton RO, SC4/2/230; HMC 11th Rep. III, 82; E372/260 m. 38, 261 m. 36, 263 m. 40 (on the last two occasions erroneously described as bailiff).
- 6. Port Bk. 1439-40 (Soton Rec. Ser. v), p. xlvii; E122/141/22; Southampton RO, SC5/4/2; God’s House, R402.