The Origins, Rise and Fall of an English Family, 1066-1550

Henry VI sails for Calais, from Wavrin’s Chronicles (Koninklijke Bibliotheek MS 133 A 7 III, f. 197r).
Henry VI’s journey to be crowned king of France in Paris, 1431. From Wavrin’s Chronicles (Koninklijke Bibliotheek MS 133 A 7 III, f. 197r).

On 23 April 1430, Sir Ralph Rochford III set sail for Calais with the nine-year-old King Henry VI of England and an imposing retinue of lords, knights and bishops. They were heading for Reims, where they intended to crown the boy as king of France behind enemy lines, and put an end to the Hundred Years’ War. As Henry’s personal guardian and mentor in chivalry, Sir Ralph’s task was to get him there alive.

Sir Ralph was not the only member of his family to lead a remarkable life. Through a series of individual biographies, this site tells the story of a family who emerged from a remote corner of Lincolnshire in the early 1100s, and rose over the course of three centuries to become pre-eminent knights of the royal household.

Yet within just one hundred years of Ralph’s momentous journey to France, the family name was obliterated by a tragic sequence of events, and their lives all but forgotten.

*

Like any good medieval tale, there is a plentiful onslaught of battles, feuds, murders, plagues, imprisonment – even hostage taking. But there are many cultured moments too: pilgrimages to the Holy Land, embassies to negotiate peace treaties, scholarly writings, and the building of great monuments in memory of departed loved ones.

No one has written a detailed and accurate account of the Rochfords before. Those that exist are all brief, and riddled with errors and confusion. My aim has been to recreate the family’s story from primary sources, of which I have tracked down well over a thousand, and then to tell it in the context of their times and the major political events that affected them.

In so doing, I hope to reveal much about the everyday lives of a typical English knightly family of the period – and to tell a great story.


Biographies

Accounts for each of the key members of the Lincolnshire and Norfolk Rochfords, plus related families.


Charts & Maps

A giant genealogical chart and several useful maps.


Source Material

A compendium of 1,200-plus original records from sources such as chancery rolls, property deals, court cases, wills, surveys etc. Plus assorted topographical notes.


Bibliography

A list of sources used, and also abbreviations.


Blog

Occasional updates and discussion points.


About

About this work, citing it, copyright, reusing images, reporting errors, etc.


Contact

If you share an interest, please do get in touch.