Nielsen Hayden genealogy

John Culpepper[1]

Male Abt 1430 - 1480  (~ 50 years)

Personal Information    |    Notes    |    Sources    |    All

  • Name John Culpepper  [2
    Birth Abt 1430  of Bedgebury, Goudhurst, Kent, England Find all individuals with events at this location  [1, 3, 4
    Gender Male 
    Alternate birth Abt 1430  [4
    Death 22 Dec 1480  [4, 5, 6, 7, 8
    Alternate death Bef 1481  [2
    Burial St. Mary's, Goudhurst, Kent, England Find all individuals with events at this location  [2, 6, 7
    Person ID I12331  Ancestry of PNH, TNH, and others | Ancestor of AP, Ancestor of FL, Ancestor of GFS, Ancestor of JTS, Ancestor of TS
    Last Modified 4 Jun 2022 

    Father Walter Culpepper,   b. Bef 1 Mar 1399   d. 1460 (Age > 60 years) 
    Mother Agnes Roper,   b. Bef 1410   d. 2 Dec 1457 (Age > 47 years) 
    Marriage Bef 1429  [1
    Family ID F8039  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Agnes Gainsford   d. Bedgebury, Goudhurst, Kent, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Marriage 7 Jul 1460  [9
    +1. Isabel Culpepper   d. 17 Jan 1491, Cranbrook, Kent, England Find all individuals with events at this location
    +2. Walter Culpeper,   b. of Wigsell, Sussex, England Find all individuals with events at this locationd. Between 14 Sep 1514 and 28 Apr 1516
    +3. Alexander Culpepper,   b. Abt 1470   d. Between 1 Jan 1541 and 21 Jun 1541 (Age ~ 71 years)
    Family ID F8038  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart
    Last Modified 4 Sep 2020 

  • Notes 
    • "Walter Culpeper of Goudhurst esquire and John Culpeper gentleman, his son, appear in the list of adherents of Jack Cade in 1450. [...] John married the heiress of the Bedgeburys and so acquired their estate. He was knighted, was sheriff in 1467 and died in 1480." [The Family of Twysden and Twisden by John Ramskill Twisden, 1939, page 42. A note on page 49 reads: "See a paper on 'Jack Cade's followers in Kent' by William Durrant Cooper F.S.A in the Arch. Cant., Vol VII p.233, to which is appended a list of the names of those pardoned taken from the Patent Rolls of 28 Henry VI."]

      "Sir John [iii] Culpeper (d. 1480), had an eventful public and private life. In January 1459, together with his brothers Richard [ii] Culpeper (d. 1516) and Nicholas [ii] (d. 1510), he was ordered to be arrested by the sheriffs of London and brought before chancery to answer allegations of riot and other offences; these may have been politically motivated in the dying days of Lancastrian rule. Certainly, Sir John [iii] proved himself a loyal servant of Edward IV. He was knighted by December 1466, and the following November he appeared on the Kentish bench. In October 1468 he was appointed to the commission to muster Lord Scales's retinue at Gravesend, and the following month he was pricked as sheriff of Kent. From October 1469 until April 1470 he appeared on several commissions of array in the south-east, alongside his brother Richard, but during the readeption of Henry VI he was absent from both commissions of array and the county bench. He returned to public life after Edward's victory at Barnet in April 1471, in which month he was once again arraying soldiers in Kent, and in June he reappeared as a JP. The same month one Thomas Miller, a gentleman of Marden, Kent, and perhaps a Lancastrian die-hard, was alleged to have led a rebellious host against him. He went on to serve on numerous commissions throughout the early 1470s." [Oxford Dictionary of National Biography]

      Sometime between 1457 and 1461, John Culpepper's brothers Richard and Nicholas travelled from Sussex to Kent with a pair of sisters, Elizabeth and Margaret Wakehurst, daughters of John Culpepper's wife Agnes Gainsford by her deceased previous husband, Richard Wakehurst. At some not much later point, Richard married Margaret and Nicholas married Elizabeth, possibly in London. Shortly thereafter, the sisters' grandmother Elizabeth Wakehurst (maiden name lost to history) alleged in a petition to Chancery court that the two brothers, aided by John Culpepper, had in fact abducted the two sisters through force of arms, and that moreover John Culpepper was further culpable because as their stepfather he had "promysed on the faithe and trouthe of his bodye and as he was a gentylman" that he would protect the sisters.

      Of course the allegation was about money. Both sisters were the only remaining heirs of grandmother Elizabeth's husband Richard Wakehurst, MP and justice of the peace, who had died in 1455. His only son, Agnes Gainsford's first husband Richard Wakehurst the younger, had predeceased him. So what you have is:

      * Elizabeth, grandmother of the two sisters, widow of Richard Wakehurst the elder;

      * Agnes Gainsford, Elizabeth's onetime daughter-in-law, who is now married to...

      * John Culpepper, whose two brothers have "abducted"...

      * Elizabeth and Margaret Wakehurst, granddaughters of Elizabeth and sole heirs to their grandfather's estate.

      Much more detail on this can be read in "Abduction: An Alternative Form of Courtship?" by Julia Pope, a good paper with a misleading title presented at the International Medieval Congress, Kalamazoo, Michigan, May 2003. The upshot is that the only evidence that the sisters were "abducted" against their will, making "grete and pittious lamentacious and weping" as they were "toke and caried away" "with force and armes, riotously agense the Kinges peas," was the grandmother's claim that they had been. All other evidence points to it having been a voluntary elopement supported by a significant number of the sisters' relatives, including their mother and stepfather.

      For several reasons, the grandmother's claim was an astute strategy, both in her legal battle to maintain control of her husband's estate and in the war of local public opinion. The Culpeppers were already a bit notorious for building their family fortune by marrying heiresses, so there was some pre-existing disposition to regard them as upstarts. Also, contrary to modern popular belief, voluntary elopement was not considered illegal under late medieval English law, and according to Pope, the record of actual case law shows that consent, specifically the bride's consent, had great bearing on actual outcomes, notwithstanding the preferences of her family. (Note, however, that in her Imprisoning Medieval Women: The Non-Judicial Confinement and Abduction of Women in England, c.1170-1509, published in 2013, Dr. Gwen Seabourne argues in detail that the medieval concept of "consent" cannot be assumed to map reliably onto our own.) At any rate, Elizabeth had plenty of incentives to claim that her granddaughters had been carried off kicking and screaming by armed men.

      Yet ultimately Elizabeth lost. The court declined to overturn the marriages. She died in 1464, and both couples returned to Sussex shortly thereafter, where they lived out their lives, managing to inherit substantial portions of their Wakehurst grandfather's estate despite various legal challenges from their grandmother's allies over the next twenty years. To all the evidence, while the marriages divided their kinship network, the larger portion of support went to them. Richard and Margaret left no issue, but the funeral brass commemorating the family of Nicholas and Elizabeth Culpepper, ten sons and eight daughters, has been described as "so crowded as to look like a poster warning against rush hour travel."


      If (as has been plausibly speculated but never proved) John Culpepper (1637-1674), early emigrant to Virginia, was the father of Henry Culpepper (d. 1675), 9X-great grandfather of PNH, this John Culpepper and his wife Agnes Gainsford would be the most recent common ancestors of PNH and TNH.

      John Culpepper (d. 1480) = Agnes Gainsford
      Walter Culpeper (1475-1524) = Anne Aucher (1480-1533)
      William Culpeper (1509-1559) = Cicely Barrett (1512-1559)
      John Culpeper (1531-1612) = Elizabeth Sedley (1534-1618)
      John Culpeper (1565-1635) = Ursula Woodcock (1566-1612)
      John Culpeper (c. 1637 Harrietsham, Kent - c. 1674 Virginia)
      possibly father of
      Henry Culpepper (1633-1675), 9X-great grandfather of PNH

  • Sources 
    1. [S373] Adrian Benjamin Burke, John Blythe Dobson, and Janet Chevally Wolfe, "The Exhurst Ancestry of the Stoughton Siblings of New England." The New England Historical and Genealogical Register 165:245, October 2011; 166:46, January 2012.

    2. [S1340] The History and Antiquities of the County of Northampton by George Baker. London: J. B. Nichols and Son, 1822-30.

    3. [S53] The Magna Charta Sureties, 1215: The Barons Named in the Magna Charta, 1215, and Some of Their Descendants Who Settled in America During the Early Colonial Years by Frederick Lewis Weis. Fifth edition, with additions and corrections by Walter Lee Sheppard, Jr. and William R. Beal. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1999.

    4. [S241] Culpepper Connections: The Culpepper Family History Site.

    5. [S53] The Magna Charta Sureties, 1215: The Barons Named in the Magna Charta, 1215, and Some of Their Descendants Who Settled in America During the Early Colonial Years by Frederick Lewis Weis. Fifth edition, with additions and corrections by Walter Lee Sheppard, Jr. and William R. Beal. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1999., year only.

    6. [S375] Col. F. W. T. Atree and the Rev. J. H. L. Booker, "The Sussex Colepepers." Sussex Archaeological Collections, 47:47, 1904, and 48:65, 1905.

    7. [S436] History of the Manor and Parish of Saleby with Thoresthorpe in the County of Lincoln, With Some Owners, by Reginald C. Dudding, Rector of Saleby. Horncastle: W. K. Morton and sons, 1922.

    8. [S76] The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press, 2004-ongoing., year only.

    9. [S376] Janet and Robert Wolfe Genealogy.