FORD, Edmund (d.1440), of Swainswick, Som.
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Family and Education
e. but prob. illegit. s. of Henry Ford of Bathford, Som. by Maud. m. by 1392, Joan.1
Commr. of gaol delivery, Bath May 1396, June 1399,2 Nov. 1430; sewers, Glos. Feb. 1402; inquiry, Som. Mar. 1406 (poor state of roads), Glos. Jan. 1411 (lands of Kingswood abbey), Jan. 1421 (disseisin); to hold an assize of novel disseisin Jan. 1412.
Members of the Ford family were prominent in Bath in the first half of the 14th century, and had early invested their money in land outside the city. Henry Ford, Edmund’s father, continued this practice, notably by purchasing the manor and advowson of Swainswick, two-and-a-half miles to the north-east. Edmund himself is first recorded in 1368 when property at Bathford was settled on him and his parents, but although his father died eight years later he does not seem to have acquired much of the family holdings until the 1390s, and the later allegations that he had been born before his parents married would seem to have some foundation. Certainly, it was Edmund’s younger brother, Thomas, who, when he came of age in about 1389, inherited most of the family lands near Bath (at Twerton, Stanton Prior, Bristol and elsewhere), from which he received rents amounting to £21 9s. a year. Edmund himself took possession of the manor and advowson of Swainswick, and premises in Tatwick (Somerset) and Kington St. Michael and Allington (Wiltshire), and when Thomas died, in about 1395, he acquired the other family properties elsewhere in those counties. It was probably through marriage that he secured an interest in land at Stone and Ham (Somerset) and in North Nibley and other places in Gloucestershire. In 1403 Ford brought a suit against Richard Godefelowe, clerk, one of his father’s executors and feoffees, for failing to render account for the issues of the Ford estate for the period 1380 to 1389 and for other sums amounting to £160, and it was then that Godefelowe alleged that Edmund had been born out of wedlock, asserting that the money had been paid, correctly, to Thomas Ford. Edmund had thus represented Bath in Parliament when still a young man of small means, but although he never quite severed his connexions with the city, he later emerged as a ‘gentleman’ whose holdings in Somerset alone were estimated to be worth £20 a year.3
Besides the property held in his own right Ford acquired, in April 1399, the custody of Alice, widow of Thomas Berlegh, who was of unsound mind, Ford being ‘her next friend by blood but in no event her heir’; and he was granted the keeping of her lands and possessions on condition that he maintained her and her family. In 1402 he received jointly the keeping of the property of another mentally deficient heir. In February 1410 he was licensed to grant holdings in Marshfield (Gloucestershire) to Keynsham abbey.4 Ford’s standing in the locality is also suggested by his dealings on behalf of other landowners: thus, in 1387 he had witnessed a local deed for Guy, Lord Bryan; in 1397 he was party to an entail on behalf of Sir Thomas Fitznichol*; in 1399 he became joint owner of the manor and advowson of Fairoak (Somerset); in 1402 he was co-patron of Ditteridge church (Wiltshire); and on many other occasions he acted as a trustee. In 1430 Richard Paveley, esquire, asked him to serve as an executor of his will.5
By 1426 at the latest Ford had acquired from his cousin, Margery Ballard, lands in Melksham (Wiltshire), which he held without challenge of Sir John Juyn, the judge, and other feoffees for 13 years. But, as he claimed in a petition to the chancellor, ‘now lately by procurement and maintenance’ of Robert Long*, a j.p. in Wiltshire, they were taken from him. His plea at common law had been unsuccessful because of Long’s influence, and he had received no response to his petition to the King’s Council ‘by cause of the grete and notabill occupacon that the sayde counsell ... had at that time’. Ford was the last of the male line of his family. He settled some of his property in Tatwick on one William Tourney, and by 1436 certain of his holdings in Bath had come into the possession of his kinsman, John Blount of Gloucestershire, esquire. Ford’s was a long career and it was probably no exaggeration when he described himself as ‘grete in age and wyth diverse sykenesse vexyd and laboryd’. He died on 17 Feb. 1440 and was buried in Swainswick church, where a brass portrays him in civil dress with a sword. The inscription reads: ‘Credo quod Redemptor meus vivit et in novissimo die terra surratus sum. Et in carne meo videbo Deum salvatorem meum’.6
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
- 1. R.E.M. Peach, Annals of Swainswick, 6; CCR, 1399-1402, p. 188; Med. Recs. Bath (Som. Rec. Soc. lxxiii), 90-94, 99.
- 2. Municipal Recs. Bath ed. King and Watts, app. A, pp. ix-x.
- 3. Med. Deeds Bath, 107, 142, 144-5, 147-9; Som. Feet of Fines (Som. Rec. Soc. xvii), 150-1; Feudal Aids, iv. 378; v. 253; vi. 509; Ancient Deeds Bath ed. Shickle, 3/83, 5/52; CCR, 1399-1402, p. 188; Peach, 15.
- 4. CPR, 1396-9, p. 551; 1401-5, p. 161; 1408-13, p. 155.
- 5. Som. Med. Wills (Som. Rec. Soc. xvi), 135; Reg. Bowet (ibid. xiii), 27, 35-36; CCR, 1385-9, p. 446; 1419-22, p. 111; CPR, 1396-9, p. 164; CAD, ii. C2644.
- 6. C1/9/466, 12/3; Med. Deeds Bath, 107; Peach, 14.