WOODLEAF, Robert (by 1516-93), of Aylesbury and Great Missenden, Bucks.
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Family and Education
b. by 1516, ?s. of Robert Woodleaf of Henley, Oxon. educ.I. Temple. m. (1) Jane, da. of Robert Smith, s.p.; (2) 25 Nov. 1557, Anne, da. of Sir Robert Drury II of Hedgerley and Chalfont St. Peter, Bucks., 4s. 2da.1
Alderman, Aylesbury 1554.2
The Robert Woodleaf returned for Chipping Wycombe in 1558 was undoubtedly the man of that name who had just married into the important south Buckinghamshire family of Drury. According to the one known pedigree he was the son of a Nicholas Woodleaf, but since the only Nicholas Woodleaf who has been traced died at Henley in 1510 leaving gowns and chattels to a second son Robert he is more likely to have been the Member’s grandfather. Admitted a freeman of Henley by fine in 1498, Nicholas Woodleaf had become one of the two bailiffs of the borough; a man of moderate wealth whose trade or profession is not known, he may have been related to William Woodleaf, a London mercer and father-in-law of John Purvey, since this name is also found at Henley.3
Robert Woodleaf was an attorney in the common pleas and his connexion with Buckinghamshire may have arisen from his membership of the Inner Temple. In 1537 he stood surety at the inn for John Cheyne, of the Buckinghamshire family allied by marriage with Sir Edmund Peckham, and by 1552 he was holding property in Aylesbury, a borough dominated by another Inner Templar, Thomas Pakington. When Aylesbury obtained its charter of incorporation in January 1554 Woodleaf was named one of its first aldermen. In 1557, on the eve of his marriage to Anne Drury, he settled upon the two of them and their heirs the manor or farm of Peterley in Great Missenden, which he had acquired six years earlier. It was to this nexus of relationships that he must have owed his return for Chipping Wycombe, a borough controlled during Mary’s reign by Peckham.4
Woodleaf was not appointed to the local bench and presumably devoted himself to his professional and domestic concerns. In 1577 he was given permission, as a fellow of the Inner Temple, to build rooms there ‘in the great garden’ for the use of himself and any of his sons for life, paying all dues. He died on 7 Jan. 1593 and was succeeded by his son Dru, aged 21 and more. The Great Missenden property is the only one mentioned in the inquisition. No will or administration of goods has been found.5