ALFORD (ALFORTH), Roger (by 1526-80), of London and Hitcham, Bucks.
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Family and Education
b. by 1526, 1st s. of Robert Alford of London and Erbistock, Denb. by Anne, da. and coh. of Edmund Brydges; bro. of Francis†. m. c.1560, Elizabeth, da. and h. of Thomas Ramsey of Hitcham, wid. of Nicholas Clerke of North Weston, Oxon., at least 1s. Edward† 1da. suc. fa. 1546.1
Servant of William Cecil from 1547; teller, receipt of Exchequer by 1556-23 June 1562; commr. sewers, Berks., Bucks., Oxon. 1567; j.p. Bucks. by 1569-d.2
Roger Alford’s father, a citizen and draper of London, founded a junior branch of a family which had long been established at Aldford, Cheshire, and had subsequently acquired Holt Castle, Denbighshire. Nothing is known of Alford’s education but it must have equipped him for service with William Cecil, whose clerk and confidant he became.3
Alford entered Cecil’s household in December 1547, his wage of £5 a year augmenting the yield of the property he had inherited from his father a year before, and he quickly became his master’s right-hand man in private affairs, finding frequent mention in the household books. It was Alford who, when Cecil’s father died in March 1553, tried to trace a will said to have been made by Richard Cecil several years before, which Alford thought might have reflected the father’s displeasure at Cecil’s marriage to Mary Cheke; Alford also handled the matter of the ensuing inquisition post mortem and himself delivered its findings to Chancery. From time to time he was involved in Cecil’s public business, as when he advanced money to the King’s agent in the Netherlands which the Council ordered to be repaid to him in January 1552.4
Alford was at Cecil’s side during the momentous weeks before Edward VI’s death: it is from a letter which Alford wrote at his master’s request, some 20 years later, that Cecil’s attitude towards the attempt to alter the succession is known, and it was Alford who penned Cecil’s defence of his actions, his ‘submission’, which Cecil presented to Mary at Newhall. His service with Cecil was not without its rewards. On 21 July 1549 he joined George Harrison and Thomas Burnet in paying £676 for former chantry property in Derbyshire, Lincolnshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire and Westminster. Two years later he was granted a 21-year lease of property in Stamford and Deeping, Lincolnshire; Cecil himself was to acquire the reversion of this property in 1561. On 28 May 1552 Alford was granted for life the next reversion of the office of teller of the receipt of the Exchequer: more than 20 years later he expressed his gratitude to Cecil for procuring him this place, which had been ‘to the comfort ever since of me and mine’. He succeeded to the office on the death of Robert Darknall, and on 20 Jan. 1556 he received a grant of the office, presumably in exchange for that of its reversion. He surrendered the tellership in 1562.5
Alford was later to thank Cecil for his protection during the reign of Mary, when ‘to no father was ever the child more bound in that extremity’. It was doubtless on Cecil’s initiative that he was returned to the Queen’s last Parliament, although it was Sir Thomas Cawarden, patron of the borough of Bletchingley, who found a seat for him. A strong Protestant, Cawarden could be relied upon to welcome Alford, who was to be described six years later by his bishop as ‘earnest in religion and fit to be trusted’. Neither Cecil nor Cawarden sat in this Parliament, but both were returned to its successor of the following year when Alford was again elected, this time for Preston. These were to be his only appearances in the Commons and nothing is known of his part in either Parliament.6
Under Elizabeth, with his master restored to office and favour, Alford prospered. He greatly augmented his landed wealth: his marriage brought him a life interest in the manor of Hitcham, Buckinghamshire, where he settled, and by his death he had property in that county, Berkshire, Norfolk, Oxfordshire and Yorkshire, as well as in London. He died on 16 July 1580 and was buried in Hitcham church.7
Ref Volumes: 1509-1558
Author: S. R. Johnson
- 1. Date of birth estimated from first reference. J. G. Alford, Alford Fam. Notes , ed. Phillimore, 23-25; Harl. 1156, f. 49; 1160, ff.101v, 102; Vis. Glos. (Harl. Soc. xxi), 234; A. H. Johnson, Drapers , ii. 101 n. 2; VCH Bucks. iii. 232.
- 2. Lansd. 118, f. 35v; CPR , 1555-7, p. 157; 1560-3, p. 340; 1566-9, p. 427; 1569-72, pp. 219, 223.
- 3. Alford, 14; PCC 26 Alen, 38 Arundell.
- 4. A. G. R. Smith, ‘Sir Michael Hickes and the secretariat of the Cecils, c.1580-1612’ (London Univ. Ph.D. thesis, 1962), 8-9; Lansd. 118, ff. 35v, 36v; HMC Hatfield, i. 116; APC, iii. 462.
- 5. Strype, Annals, iv. 485; C. Read, Cecil, 94-101; CPR, 1549-51, pp. 124-8; 1550-3, p. 310; 1555-7, p. 157; 1560-3, pp. 165, 340.
- 6. Lansd. 18, f. 26; Cam Misc. ix(3), 32.
- 7. VCH Bucks. iii. 232, 234; PCC 38 Arundell.