In the 1400s, there was a family of Rochfords connected with the town of Braintree in Essex. I have no idea where they originated from. One would guess they were cousins of the Rochfords of Rochford and Berden in Essex – a tremendously wealthy family who were in the area from at least the mid 1100s. But what little evidence I have found suggests that the Rochfords at Braintree may have been more closely related to the Rochfords of Fenne.
This article looks at the hazy history of these mysterious individuals.
Most accounts of the Rochfords refer to a marriage at some point between a Rochford male and a Hastings female. Two documents from Norfolk Record Office show that there was such a marriage, but not between the individuals most scholars have claimed.
This article compares the traditional account, misleading abstracts from Norfolk Record Office, and the evidence of the original documents themselves – and shows why research from primary sources is so vital.
The Victoria County History site reports that work is in progress on vol 3 of its history for the county, and that Clipston will be covered. I shared with the following account of the Rochfords’ estates in the village, since it appears from the latest draft text that the author has not yet discovered this.
They include a large number of tombs and effigies, heraldic artefacts and coats of arms recreated from original records. They also include photos and engravings of places and buildings associated with the Rochfords, and a number of medieval illuminations illustrating events they were involved in.
At length, final drafts of the PDFs for Volume One and Two print editions are now available. You can download and read them from this site – but please note that the text may change (in particlar the first few chapters of Volume One).
Rochford of Fenne and Stoke Rochford, Volume One is now available to read online here. Meanwhile, here is a photo of my first proof of the printed edition, and blurb from the back cover:
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.
In the early 1400s, everyone in England knew the name Rochford. Family members were among the leading knights of the royal household and the realm. Yet today, all that survives are a few old place names, some muddled local histories, and very little else. The story of this family has been a mystery for half a millennium.
My aim is to unravel that mystery. Over the years I have collected thousands of pieces of primary evidence about the Rochfords. I have used these to reconstruct their story, from the 1100s until their final days in the time of Henry VIII. On this site, I am sharing it all.
The book – Volume One Rochford of Fenne and Stoke Rochford, Volume One: The Origins Rise and Fall of an English Family, 1066-1550, tells the story of the family through biographies of its eighteen principal members. Read online or download the PDF.
Original records – Volume Two A companion volume of records, citations, working notes, etc., for researchers. Contains all the citations for Volume One, 1200+ abstracts and transcripts, and commentary on their interpretation. PDF only.
Genealogical charts One huge genealogical chart showing thirteen generations of the family from the 1100s to the 1500s, with coats of arms and illustrations. Also several smaller charts, and a few maps from the book showing various places associated with the Rochfords.