It is generally accepted that at some point in history the Strodes of Dorset and the Strodes of Devon shared a common ancestor. However, it is not until the mid 1500s that there is any evidence of interaction between the two families.
Both branches of the family share a common ancester in the female line, Thomas Cromwell, Earl of Essex, once the great power behind the throne, who was executed in 1540. His son, Gregory, was married to Elizabeth Seymour, sister to Queen Jane Seymour, but was impoverished and had two unmarried sisters and two daughters, Catherine and Frances.
The girls would have brought little or no dowery, however they did bring the royal blood connections. Catherine Cromwell was married to John Strode of Parnham House, Dorset and sister Frances to Richard Strode of Newnham Manor, Plympton, Devon. All offspring from these marriages would be cousins to King Edward VI. A potentially useful connection for the Strode families.
John and Catherine Strode of Parnham produced at least five sons, of whom Robert (1559-1616) was the heir. He married Mary Lutteral of the powerful Dunster Castle family. Knighted in 1603, Sir Robert spent lavishly, rebuilding Parnham House and its grounds. They had one child, a daughter Catherine.
Concurrently, a few miles away at Newnham Manor, Richard and Frances Strode a son and heir Sir William Strode (1561-1637). Sir William married Mary Southcott, a member of a wealthy merchant family. William and Mary had at least 10 children, most of whom survived.
Around 1596 it had become apparent to Sir Robert of Parnham that his wife Mary was passing child bearing age and that he would not have a son and heir. To add to this his lavish lifestyle and the rebuilding of Parnham had left him deeply in debt. Aware that the Strodes of Newnham were one of the wealthiest West Country families he offered Sir William Strode of Newnham his ten year old daughter's hand in marriage for Sir William's twelve year old son Richard, in return for a payment of £2,000. In turn he would entail a total of 23 manors, including Parnham, to the offspring of the young cousins. The deed was done and the children were married.
Sir Robert Strode of Parnham assumed that daughter Catherine would have a son and he would have a grandson and heir so that the property and blood line could continue. Unfortunately for the Strodes of Newnham, young Catherine produced three daughters and died young.
Sir Robert refused to honor the marriage contract. This lead to 100 years of bitter lawsuits and murder. With the death of Catherine, Sir Richard married Elizabeth Earle who produced several children, including a daughter, Dionisia, who married John Drake of the famous family. Upon the death of second wife Elizabeth, Sir Richard, now eighty years old married Anne Drake, the seventeen year old sister of his son-in-law John Drake. Richard and Ann produced two children, Joseph and Susanna.
Sir Richard served as MP between 1604-1611, 1625-1626 and 1640. He expended a fortune on fruitless suits in Chancery to claim his property. In one famous incident he tried, at gun point, to force the Strodes of Parnham from their aisle in the Cattistock Chapel. On four recorded occasions he asked for Royal Intervention directly from the King. In his will, Richard left Parnham to the King, perhaps hoping that if he had not been able to gain possesion of the estate the King would certainly succeed. Unfortunately for Sir Richard, his enemy Sir Robert had a younger brother, Sir John Strode, who was one of the most able barristers in the country, who managed to keep the suits tied up in court for ever. The daughter, Susanna, married a close cousin, Hugh Chudleigh. They shared common grandparents in Sir William Strode and Mary Southcott. Susanna outlived her brother and inherited substantial estates and manors which passed to the Chudleigh family.
Susanna and Hugh Chudleigh had a single son, George who was a Colonel in the Coldstream Guards. Their only son, Sir John Chudleigh, was killed without issue at the Battle of Ostend in 1745, ending the Chudleigh line.