Gene Surfing

Adventures in Family History

Robert of Norwich

Farmer BullshotIn a previous post I have argued that Robert Codrington, the writer and translator, was more likely to be the son of Richard Codrington of Dodington, than the second son of Robert Codrington of Didmarton.

But then a new piece of evidence comes along …

We will get to that in a minute, but first a bit of background. The record for Robert Codrington at Oxford identifies him as the second son of Robert Codrington of Didmarton, but I believe that this is a simple mistake and Robert was the son of Richard Codrington of Dodington.

Robert Codrington A14

There does not appear to be any evidence that there were two Robert Codringtons at Oxford, and I have concluded that one of them – Robert of Didmarton – never existed, died young or, at the very least, did not go to Oxford University, and the Oxford record is mistaken as to his pedigree.


Robert Henry Codrington, in his definitive work on the Codrington family, believed that Cotherington may have been the original spelling of the family name although pronounced as Cutherington.

So I have been slowly searching the internet using all the possible spellings of the name and coming up with some interesting results.

Codrington, Codringtonne, Codryngton, Codrinton, Codrintonne, Codrynton, Coddrington, Cotherington, Cotherinton, Cotheryngton, Coderyngton, Cudrington, Cuddrington, Cuderington, Cutherington, Goodryngton, Guderington, Gudderington, Cothrindton, Cowdrington, Cooaddoringtonn.

The possibility, of course, is that some of the alternate spellings of the Codrington name actually belong to other, unrelated families.

RHC may have dismissed some spellings such as Godrington as belonging elsewhere, however I have come across several members of the Codrington family with alternative spellings not mentioned in the list, so it is not a definitive reference.

One similar name that could fit this category is Codington [of Surrey] but this does not match the alternative spellings identified above.

All of these spellings have a “d” or “th” sound followed by an “r” or sometime “l” – and this is what really distinguishes the family name from others.

Having said that a record has turned up for Robert Cotherington of Norfolk that may indicate that there were two Roberts who both lived in Norfolk at about the same time.

Robert Codrington and his wife Hennigham Drury [of Norfolk] had a son named Robert who was baptised in London 1635.

robert codringtom 1635

This Robert was the one who moved to Barbados and had a daughter, Henningham [named after her grandmother], who married Paul Carrington.

The new record for Robert Cotherington of Norwich shows a son – also named Robert – who was born 1633 and this could be the son of Robert and Henningham, assuming that he was baptized some time later in London.

In this record, Robert is shown as a clergyman and the record itself is related to his son’s admission to the Merchant Taylor’s school in 1645, when Robert junior would have been 12.

robert cotherington

But none of the accounts I have seen about Robert, the writer, indicate that he had any relationship with the church, other than being described as a puritan [and a parliamentarian] by Anthony Wood in Athenæ Oxonienses. p.699 page

Wood was contemporary with Robert and his biographical work of Oxford [University] writers was published in 1691, only 25 years after Robert died, so if Robert had been a clergyman I guess Wood would have known this – unless it wasn’t that important to record what Robert did outside of his writing.

In the baptism record of his son, Robert is identified as  a yeoman and he probably had land in Norfolk from his marriage, but he later moved to Middlesex, London.

The Merchant Taylor’s school was [and still is] located in London – the original site was destroyed in the great fire in 1666.

“The grammar school, founded in the Parish of St. Lawrence Pountney in London in the yere of our Lord God one thousand fyve hundred, sixty-one by this worshipfull company of the Marchaunt-Taylors of the Cytty of London, in the honor of Christ Jesu”

In 1645 the Headmaster of the school was William Dugard, the cousin of Sir James Harrington a parliamentarian and one of the commissioners at the trial of Charles I.

Whether the politics of the time influenced the choice of school can only be guessed at, but Robert was described as a parliamentarian by Wood based on one of his more significant publications:

The Life and Death of the Illustrious Robert Earle of Essex, & c. Containing at large the wars he managed, and the commands he had in Holland, the Palatinate, and in England, etc.

Robert of Norwich

So just who was Robert Cotherington of Norwich?

There are several possibilities:

1. Robert was the son of Robert and Anne Codrington of Didmarton.

There is no mention of a son named Robert in the court proceedings of the Codrington family following the death of Robert in 1618 and the marriage of his widow, Anne, to Ralph Marsh.

If he had taken holy orders and moved to Norfolk then perhaps he had no further claims against his father’s estate, although all of the other children of Robert and Anne have been mentioned in one or other of the documents, even if they had died.

If this Robert was of Didmarton then it is likely that he also married Henningham Drury and his son, Robert, was the one who went to Barbados.

In this scenario Robert of Dodington may have still completed his degree [perhaps not at Oxford] and become the translator of Aesop’s fables, but did not necessarily have any connection to Norfolk.

2. Robert was the son of Richard and Joyce Codrington of Dodington.

Robert of Dodington may not have completed his Oxford degree – after the incident with the Brownes – and instead moved to Norfolk to become a clergyman. page

If he did not complete his degree he may not have been recorded [officially] as having been at Oxford, but clearly he was there, based on the records of the court case with the Brownes.

It is also possible that he did complete his degree and still become a clergyman and also married Henningham Drury. page

Perhaps the clergyman reference was a mistake by whoever made the original record?

Possibly he had sold the land in Norfolk when he moved to London and could no longer be called Yeoman, and perhaps he did have some sort of position as a clerk or within the church while he pursued his writing and translating.

Or possibly the record has been transcribed incorrectly and this should say gentleman – but I think this unlikely.

3. Robert was not related to either the Didmarton or Dodington Codrington families.

This seems possible, given that there are no other records for Cotherington [or Codrington] living in Norfolk.

But if he is not from either family then where does he come from?

Possibly he is related to an older branch of the Codrington family who have been unrecorded, or records have not yet been found.

Or perhaps a member of the Codington family who has been mis-recorded.

Farmer BullshotIt is possible that Robert, the writer and translator, was a member of the clergy and that his son, Robert was born in Norfolk but baptised in London.

Most accounts about the life of Robert could fit with this time-line, despite no mention of any connection to the clergy.

Codrington, Robert, a miscellaneous writer and translator of the seventeenth century, was born of an ancient family in Gloucestershire, in 1602, and educated at Oxford, where he was elected demy of Magdalen college, in July 1619, and completed his degree of M. A. in 1626. He then travelled, and on his return settled as a private gentleman in Norfolk, where he married. He died of the plague in London, in 1665.

But was the son of Robert of Norwich the one who went to Barbados?

If he was from the Didmarton family then his uncle was Christopher Codrington, so there were certainly family connections he could take advantage of. page

In this case he would also have had to be the one that married into the Drury family, simply because of the name of his daughter, Henningham.

But if he was the son of Robert Codrington of Didmarton, then I still do not understand why there was no mention of him in any of the court proceedings following his mother’s marriage to Ralph Marsh.

These proceedings were relevant to his inheritance as, in 1618 when his father Robert died, he would not yet have completed his studies at Oxford. page

Farmer BullshotOf the two Codrington links the most likely is that Robert of Norwich was the son of Richard and Joyce Codrington of Dodington, which then enriches our knowledge of him and of his son Robert.

But as far as I know none of the biographies of Robert Codrington mention him being a member of the clergy and I cannot find any other records relating to him in Norfolk.

If Robert the writer was a clergyman in 1645, when his son attended Merchant Taylor’s school, then surely this would have been mentioned in his biography or in one of his letters or publications?

Having said that most biographies are based on what Anthony Wood had to say about Robert, most of which was a simply a list of his writings and translations rather than personal or family details.

If Robert of Norwich could be linked with the Didmarton family, it would clear up the missing son from the will of Robert Codrington in 1618.

But I do not think that this can be true for reasons already discussed. page

If Robert of Norwich is not Robert the writer then this leaves us with the possibility of either an unknown member of the Codrington family, or a member of another family with a similar sounding name, such as Codington.


There are some references to the Codington family in Suffolk in the 16th century – in particular of Richard Codington who has a tomb in Ixworth church dated 1567 – and it is possible for a descendant of his to be living in Norfolk a century later.

In 1538, King Henry VIII granted it [Little Melton] to Richard Codington of Codington in Surrey, in exchange for the manor of Codington, along with the manor of Ixworth, &c.

There are also references to William Codington of Boston in Lincolnshire, the son of a Robert Codington who died 1615.

William was treasurer to the Massachusetts Bay Company in 1629 and went there with the first voyage in 1630. He was governor of Newport in 1640 and of Rhode Island in 1678, the same year he died.

William could have been a brother of Robert Codington born about 1600 and possibly related to Richard of Suffolk and this seems a reasonable explanation – a simple transcription or recording error from Codington to Cotherington.

But I can find no records to support Robert being from the Codington family either, so, for now at least, I am going to stick with my original assumptions about the other two Robert Codringtons as described elsewhere. page

Until another piece of evidence turns up anyway.


coddingtonThis is the introduction page to a publication about the Coddington family of Woodbridge, New Jersey. page

Strangely – having gone to the trouble to show the variations in spelling – there appears to be a reference here to the origins of the  Codrington family name and not the Coddingtons at all.

This just proves how easy it is to get mixed up between the two families.

Chris Sidney 2015


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