Nielsen Hayden genealogy

Nicholas de Wodhull

Male - 1410


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  • Name Nicholas de Wodhull 
    Born of Odell, Bedfordshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location  [1, 2
    Gender Male 
    Alternate birth of Pateshull, Bedfordshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location  [2
    Died 24 Oct 1410  [1, 2, 3, 4, 5
    Person ID I13426  Ancestry of PNH, TNH, and others | Ancestor of TSW
    Last Modified 31 Aug 2020 

    Father John de Wahull,   b. 1 Nov 1302, of Odell, Bedfordshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Bef 30 Apr 1336  (Age < 33 years) 
    Mother Isabel,   d. Aft 20 Apr 1340 
    Family ID F8424  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Margaret Foxcote,   d. Aft 29 Aug 1405 
    Married Bef 1367  [1, 6
    Children 
    +1. Thomas Wodhull,   b. Abt 1387, of Odell, Bedfordshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 22 Mar 1421, Baugé, Anjou, France Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 34 years)
    Last Modified 23 Aug 2020 
    Family ID F8421  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Notes 
    • Also called Wodehyll. Sheriff of Wiltshire 1381-82.

      Richardson's Royal Ancestry, following various earlier sources, gives him as a son of a Thomas de Wodhull (~1322-~1376), himself a son of John de Wahull (1302-1336) and his wife Isabel (d. 1340). But in an SGM post on 18 Aug 2020, Richardson repudiated that model:
      Questions have been raised from time to time over the years regarding the parentage and extended ancestry of Nicholas Wodhull, Esq., died 1410, which individual was the heir of the ancient barony of Odell, Bedfordshire.

      In the case of Nicholas Wodhull, you have two basic options:

      Option 1. That Nicholas Wodhull was a younger son of Sir John de Wodhull [died 1336], of Odell, Bedfordshire, by his wife, Isabel.

      Option 2. That Nicholas Wodhull was a grandson of Sir John de Wodhull [died 1336].

      Option 1 has the support of two contemporary inquisitions, one visitation, and a contemporary record which proves John de Wodhull [died 1336] had a son, Nicholas. That's rather convincing evidence.

      Option 2 has the support of one late date Chancery Proceeding. That's all. Option 2 has a serious flaw in that it sets Nicholas Wodhull as the son of a certain Thomas Wodhull. There is no evidence that Thomas Wodhull ever existed.

      Extensive research in contemporary medieval records proves that the heir to the Odell barony is identical with a certain Nicholas Wodhull who was a prominent merchant in Salisbury, Wiltshire. Nicholas the merchant served as Sheriff of Wiltshire, 1381–2, and Keeper of Old Salisbury Castle, 1381. The records of Nicholas Wodhull's life are seamless and consistent (numerous debts through his long life). There is no hint that there were two Nicholas Wodhulls, just one individual.

      Conclusive evidence that Nicholas Wodhull the merchant is the same person as Nicholas Wodhull the heir is found in two helpful records […] found on the Discovery online catalog. We see [from them] that Nicholas Wodhull the merchant is identified as being the owner of the manor of Durnford, Wiltshire. This manor was part of the Wodhull family estates known to have been inherited by Nicholas Wodhull the heir. […]

      In summary, contemporary evidence proves that Nicholas Wodhull the heir is identical to Nicholas Wodhull, a prominent merchant of Salisbury, Wiltshire. Due to chronological considerations, it may be concluded that Nicholas Wodhull, Esq., merchant and heir, was a younger son of Sir John Wodhulll [died 1336] as stated in three contemporary records and a visitation record. So Option 1 stated above is the correct solution regarding Nicholas Wodhull's parentage.
      Writing on Wikitree, Andrew Lancaster is concerned with some chronological problems with Richardson's solution: "The most direct evidence of his identity comes from IPMs of Eleanor and Elizabeth in 1376. Three different juries in three different counties all name the heir as Nicholas Wodhull, brother of their grandfather John de Wodhull (d. 1348). This would seem straightforward, however, there is a problem. The IPMs also give the age of Nicholas as variously aged 24 and aged 30 and more. These ages are impossible for Nicholas to be the son of a man who died in 1336. So either the birth dates are wrong, or the identification of the heir as a son of John de Wahull (d. 1336) is wrong. […] In a completely separate IPM he was said to be aged 50 and more in 1403 (b. c1353). These ages are impossible for Nicholas to be the son of a man who died in 1336. Nicholas Wodhull was sheriff when he died in 1410; no one in their 80s would ever be appointed sheriff."

      Lancaster's solution is to postulate that the Nicholas de Wodhull who died in 1410 was a son of the Nicholas de Wodhull who is known to have been a younger son of the John de Wodhull who died in 1336. As Lancaster observes, this solution "has the advantage of relieving the chronological difficulties—a birth date of c1350 for Nicholas Woodhull now fits perfectly for him to be the son of someone born in the late 1320s. It no longer means his son and heir was born while he was in his 60s. He was no longer too old to hold the position of sheriff in 1381 [sic—Lancaster presumably means 1410]. This solution does mean that the IPMs were wrong in saying that the heir of Elizabeth and Eleanor Wodhull was their great-uncle Nicholas Wodhull; it should have said the heir was the son of the their great-uncle Nicholas Wodhull."

      To our mind it seems like the choice is between believing that several IPMs misstated the age of the Nicholas de Wodhull, or that several IPMs misstated his relationship to the recently-deceased Eleanor and Elizabeth Wodhull, heiresses to the barony. It's worth noting that IPMs, including these, did not usually give precise ages; they simply stated a person's age as X number of years "or more", because the concern was simply to establish that they were old enough to inherit, or to do some other thing that carried a minimum age requirement. Whereas IPMs were generally quite fastidious about establishing exact genealogical relationships, because the whole point of the exercise was to determine who inherited what. For this reason, we're inclined to go with Richardson's model, in which the Nicholas de Wodhull who died in 1410 was the Nicholas de Wodhull known to have been a son of John who died in 1336, and that this Nicholas simply lived a very, but not impossibly, long life. But, as Lancaster points out, "It ultimately doesn't matter. The important point is that Nicholas Wodhull (d. 1410) absolutely inherited the Wodhull barony from John de Wahull (d. 1336) either as his son or grandson."

      As a footnote, we've been (so far) unable to verify that this Nicholas de Wodhull was, as Lancaster asserts, a sheriff in 1410. The 1898 List of Sheriffs for England and Wales from the Earliest Times to A.D. 1831 (Public Records Offices Lists and Indexes 9) lists Nicholas de Wodehull only once, as sheriff of Wiltshire from 13 Oct 1381 to 24 Nov 1382. Searching on all the variant spellings of Wodhull has yielded us nothing else.

  • Sources 
    1. [S142] Royal Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families by Douglas Richardson. Salt Lake City, 2013.

    2. [S317] The Bulkeley Genealogy by Donald Lines Jacobus. New Haven, Connecticut: 1933.

    3. [S3209] Ancestor Table: Hansen by Charles M. Hansen. Sausalito, California, 2017.

    4. [S4168] Charles M. Hansen, "The Barons of Wodhull, With Observations on the Ancestry of George Elkington, Emigrant to New Jersey." The Genealogist 7:4, 1987.

    5. [S4297] Randle Holme, "The True Pedegree & Descent of the Autient & Right Worshipfull Familie of Chetwood of Chetwood, Okeley, & Warleston, Hoclyue, & Warkeworth." Compiled in 1650; published in Miscellanea Genealogica et Heraldica, Vol. 1, Second Series, 1886, p. 69., year only.

    6. [S4298] Douglas Richardson, 20 Aug 2020, post to soc.genealogy.medieval.