THE Coomber family of which I am a member has a long history, going back to medieval England and the era of the War of the Roses in the 1400s. As much as anyone can be sure of their ancestry, our lineage goes back to Kings and Queens of England, and some of the key players in history. There is also a fascinating story of a famous ancestor, Jacquetta of Luxembourg, whose family claimed descent from a mermaid and who was charged with witchcraft in an era when that usually meant death, even for members of the royal household.
The COOMBER family is traceable back through to COMBER, then the double surname RIVERS COMBER to the family and descendants of the Earl of RIVERS, who history also knows as Sir Richard WOODVILLE, father of a Queen of England Elizabeth Woodville and grandfather of Elizabeth of York, the mother of Henry VIII. The characters of this amazing Woodville family even feature in Shakespearian plays, particularly Richard III.
Exactly where we fit in may never be known because many of the Woodvilles fled England after Richard III seized power from the teenage Edward V, grandson of the 1st Earl Rivers and several members of the family including the 2nd Earl Rivers were executed. Many of the Woodvilles moved to Sussex and Surrey and dropped out of the public eye, by becoming known initially as Rivers alias Comber, then Rivers Comber until about 1615 when the Rivers part was dropped. It is a fascinating adjunct to the Coomber family history and so I have decided to record in detail what I can glean about the Woodvilles, Wydevilles and their Norman ancestors the de Wydevills. In doing so it moves this history beyond the proven Coomber line but I believe it is necessary to retain this detail in case the vital link from Rivers Comber to a specific Woodville family member is discovered some day in a dusty archive.
My research through historical records, what-ifs and maybes has been published in a book Rivers in the Blood - The Coomber Family's 600 Year Journey. This book is not publicly available as I produced it with a limited print run for my immediate family members in May 2014, bringing together more than 30 years of research. The fact that details of our line has been preserved so well across the centuries is an indication that the Rivers Combers had a desire to preserve their history, their dreaming, in case one day they might be recalled to the halls of power they enjoyed when known as Woodville. Much of the Comber history in Sussex was recorded in the 1800s by a John Comber who was one of England’s premier genealogists and published a history of Sussex families which is still a great reference book today. Without his efforts our Coomber family tree may well have stalled in the 1700s.