Sir John Colpeper, Knt.

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ChartsAncestors of Edward Ambrose Cooke
Sir John Colpeper, Knt., son of Walter Colpeper and Agnes Roper, died 22 December 1480,1 and was buried at Goudhurst, Kent, England.2

John married Agnes Gainsford, daughter of John Gainsford.3

Sir John served the office of Sheriff of Kent in 7 Edw. IV (1468) and was buried in Goudhurst, beside his father; being described on his tomb as 'Johannis Culpeper, militis obiit 22 December 1480.'

It appears from an indenture dated 4 January, 21 Henry VIII (1529/30) which has survived (Harl. Charter, 76 H 12) that Sir John left a will (otherwise lost) disposing of his estates among two sons, Alexander and Walter, named respectively for their maternal uncle, Alexander Clifford of Bobbing (thus introducing among the Culpepers a name which was to appear in Virginia), and for their grandfather, the Squire of Agincourt. These estates included the manors acquired by the Bedgebury marriage (Bedgebury and Haselden) in Kent, an inherited Culpeper manor (Wigsell) in Sussex, and certain lands in Essex which Sir John had purchased; and the will in question divided them among the two sons, the intention of the testator being that, despite the Kentish custom of gavelkind, the elder should take all the lands in Kent, and the younger those in Sussex and Essex.

Wigsell, which thus devolved upon Walter and was to be the seat of three generations of his descendants, was at the time of the death of Walter's father a manor 'holden by Knights service of the Lord of the Castle of Hastings,' consisting of some 600 acres of plough and pasture, with as much more of wood and heath, in the Sussex parish of Salehurst; lying close under the southwestern border of Kent, not far from Bayhall and Bedgebury. It was purchased in 1348 (Sussex Feet of Fines, 22 Edward III) from Simon de Etchingham by Sir John Culpeper; whose heir, Sir Thomas, records in his will of 1429 (Harl. Ch., 80 H 27) that it was settled upon him on the occasion of his first marriage. Wigsell was not yet a place of residence, however: its original value lay in the supply of charcoal which its forest cover provided for the iron smelting industry in which the Culpepers, like so many of their neighbours in the Weald, were profitably engaged in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. At the death of Sir John, Wigsell must already have been somewhat denuded and so of less value than it had been; but the title was sufficient, nevertheless, to enable its inheritor to pursue the thrifty practice of his ancestors and negotiate a marriage which established Culpeper of Wigsell for a century and a half to come. See Fairfax Harrison, "The Proprietors of the Northern Neck."

Sir John's two brothers, Richard and Nicholas, under somewhat romantic circumstances, married Margaret and Elizabeth Wakehurst, (granddaughters and co-heiresses of Richard Wakehurst, sen., of Wakehurst, in Ardingly). These two girls were confided by Elizabeth, their grandmother, and their guardians, to the care of John Colepeper and Agnes, his wife. John "promysed on the faithe and trouthe of his bodye, and he was a gentylman," that they would not be wronged. However, his brothers had other ideas. Richard and Nicholas, "with force and armes riotously agense the Knges peas arayed in the manr of warre at Goutherst toke and caried" them away to Bobbing, Alexander Clifford's place in Kent, and afterwards transported them to London to a place of Jon Gibson, "the seide margarete and Elizabeth at the tyme of their takying away makying grete and pittious lamentacion and wepying"

This action caused considerable litigation, as Elizabeth, the grandmother refused to resign the title to the girls estates, though apparently all concerned eventually reached a settlement.4,5


Agnes Gainsford
This person was last edited on2 Jan 2021


  1. [S1912] F. W. T. Atree and J. H. L. Booker, "The Sussex Colepepers," Sussex Archaelological Collections 47 (1904): 47-81 and 48 (1905): 65-98, further cited as Attree and Booker, "The Sussex Colepepers."
  2. [S1912] Attree and Booker, "The Sussex Colepepers," 59.
  3. [S1866] Adrian Benjamin Burke, John Blythe Dobson and Janet Chevalley Wolfe, "The Exhurst Ancestry of the Stoughton Siblings of New England," The New England Historical and Genealogical Register 165 (Oct 2011): 244-260 & 166 (Jan 2012): 46-70, at 166: 57, further cited as Burke, Dobson, and Wolfe, "Exhurst Ancestry of the Stoughton Siblings."
  4. [S1912] Attree and Booker, "The Sussex Colepepers," 58-60.
  5. [S1913] Culpepper Family Tree, online, "John Culpeper of Bayhall, Hardreshull & Bedgebury" at, accessed Dec 2012. Hereinafter cited as Culpepper Family Tree.