This site is a work-in-progress. There is a massive amount to cover. I have included both male and female lines, and some go back 30 generations. Keep coming back for more.

I have numbered the generations working backwards from my own as (1)




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RICHARD SAMPSON was baptised in West Worlington

1803. Apr. 7. Richard, son of John & Mary Sampson.

He was their third child.


MARY MATHEWS was baptised in Chulmleigh. She was the daughter of Joseph Mathews and Elizabeth Turner.

1803 Feb 13 Mary daughter of Joseph Mathews & Elizabeth his wife.

She was their tenth and youngest child.


Richard moved to Chulmleigh before they married..


Marriage. 1826 Chulmleigh .

Richard Sampson of this parish and Mary Matthews of this parish were married in this Church by Banns with Consent of Parents this Twenty Ninth Day of March.

Rector of Kings Nympton.

Signed: The Mark X of Richard Sampson

Mary Mathews

In the presence of Joseph Mathews, J Vicary Clerk.


Richard is illiterate, but Mary signs in a mature hand, as did both her parents when they were married.. Like her father, she signs her name with one t, though the parson gives her two. The date of the christening of their first child suggests that Mary may have already been pregnant.


Baptisms: Chulmleigh

1826 Nov 30 Maria daughter of Richard & Mary Sampson.  Town. Husbandman.

1827 Mar 24 John son of Richard & Mary Sampson. Waterloo Cott. Husbandman.

1830 Feb 1 Jane daughter of Richard & Mary Sampson. Edgiford. Husbandman.


A ‘husbandman’ originally cultivated his own ground, though it may not have amounted to very much. By this period it seems to have been the term used for a farm labourer. The Enclosure movement meant that villagers were deprived of the right to pasture animals on the common. In return for this, and the loss of the right to farm communal fields, they might be offered a cash payment, or a piece of land too small or poor to support a family. They became wage labourers instead.

These were hard times for Devon farmers, with the loss of continental markets during the wars with France and the competition from cotton replacing wool.

Other Sampsons were living in Waterloo Cottage in 1822. Edgeford is in the eastern part of the parish.

The family moved from Chulmleigh to Meshaw, where their son William was born around 1833.

They moved again to East Worlington, where two more children were born.

Baptisms. East Worlington.

1836 May 29th Elizabeth Matthews Daughter of Richard and Mary Sampson East Worlington Husbandman

1837 June 17th Richard Son of Richard and Mary Sampson East Worlington Husbandman

Elizabeth seems to have died young. She does not appear in the 1841 census.


Mary’s death was registered in the first quarter of 1841, before the census was taken in June.

By then, Richard and the younger children were living in Cheldon, a little further west. Holes stands just east of the crossroads in the little village, on the north side of the road that leads to the Worlingtons and Witheridge. They share the house with Richard’s sister, Anne Price, and her family.

1841 Census : Holes, Cheldon

Richard Sampson   35   Ag lab

Jane Sampson     11

William Sampson    8

Richard Sampson    4

Samuel Price     40   Ag Lab

Anne Price   40

Anne Price 11     

William Price     7

Maria Price     4

Jane Price     1

Samuel Price had come down in the world. At least three previous generations of Samuel Prices in East Worlington had been churchwardens, Overseers of the Poor, and ratepayers of Rull, Hilldown and Odislake. In 1782 the sum of twenty shillings was distributed to the poor of East Worlington parish by Mr Samuel Price, according to the will of his late grandfather. But this Samuel, like Richard, is an agricultural labourer.

Richard’s frequent moves from village to village suggests that he did not have secure employment but hired himself out at yearly fairs.

In the same census, Richard and Mary’s son John is an agricultural labourer at Coombe, Chulmleigh, aged 11. 13-year-old Mary Sampson, who could be their eldest daughter Maria, is a female servant to William Pearse, farmer, of Elston, Chulmleigh.


In the last quarter of 1849 Richard married his second wife, Maria Elizabeth Greenslade.

Maria already had two daughters. In the 1841 census, she was living in Chawleigh village, close to Cheldon, with 3-year-old Mary and 3-month-old Leah. She is a pauper. Also in the house, and heading the household, is George Snell, who is the same age as Maria Greenslade, with what we presume to be his wife Maria Snell and 1-year-old daughter Sophia. We do not know whether Maria Greenslade was there as a lodger, or whether these were relatives. She is said in this census to have been born in Devon.

In 1849, shortly before her marriage to Richard , the Chawleigh Overseers of the Poor issued a removal order for Maria Greenslade and Mary Ann and Leah her daughters from Chawleigh to Cheldon. This indicates that Cheldon was Maria’s parish of settlement. She may have gained right of settlement through birth, work or marriage.

No evidence has yet been found for Maria’s marriage. Leah is said in the censuses to have been born in Cheldon, but she was baptised in Chawleigh.

Baptism. Chawleigh.

1841 June 28 th Leah daughter of Maria Greenslade Chawleigh.

There are other baptisms in the same register where only the mother is named. Usually she is described as a “single-woman” or “spinster”. This is not so in Maria’s case. Nor is there any reference to her being a widow. It remains uncertain whether she was a young widow or an unmarried mother. The baptism of Leah’s older sister Mary, which might have cast more light on this, has not yet been found. She is probably the Mary Greenslade whose birth was registered in the Crediton district in the first quarter of 1938.


Maria’s wedding to Richard took place in the Exeter Registration District. Maria was 9 years younger than him.


1851 Census: Village. West Worlington & Cheldon

Richard Sampson Head M 47 Ag Lab West Worlington

Maria Sampson Wife M 38 --- Bristol

Jane Sampson Daur U 21 House Serv Chulmleigh

Leah Greenslade Daur - 9 Scholar Cheldon

Ann Price Niec U 21 House Serv West Worlington

Jane Price Niec - 11 Scholar Cheldon


This time Maria’s birthplace is given as Bristol.

The Price nieces are still with them. Samuel Price appears to have died and his widow Ann has become a Nurse Keeper to Farmer Bragg.


Meanwhile, two brothers of Mary Mathews were living in Chulmleigh. Thomas Matthews, 66, was a farm labourer at Bull Hill Cots, and Richard Matthew, 51, also a farm labourer, at Sharlands Tenement, with his family.


Richard and Maria returned to Chulmleigh and also moved into Bull Hill.


1861 Census : Bull Hill, Chulmleigh .

Richard Samson   Head   M   56   Ag lab     W. Worlington

Maria Samson       Wife   M   48       Tiverton

In this case Maria gives her birthplace as Tiverton.


By 1866,the couple had moved to one of a row of four cottages in East Street .


North Devon Journal, Thursday, 13 December 1866.




TO BE SOLD, by Auction, by Mr JOHN HANNAFORD, at the ‘King’s Arms Inn’, Chulmleigh, on Thursday the Third day of January next, at One o’clock in the Afternoon (subject to such conditions as shall be then read), the Fee-simple and Inheritance of all those FOUR COTTAGES or DWELLING HOUSES, part and parcel of a certain Tenement, called Hunt’s Tenement, with the Courtlages and Apppurtenances thereto belonging, now or late in the occupation of ELIZA RAYMONT, JOHN ELIOTT, RICHARD SAMPSON and JAMES ELIOTT, situate in East-street, in Chulmleigh aforesaid;

For viewing the above, apply to the Auctioneers; and for particulars to Messrs PEARSE & CROSSE, Solicitors, Southmolton.


A ‘courtlage’ is a Devonshire word for a fore or back yard.


Richard’s death was registered in the last quarter of 1867. He was 64.


Maria was still living in East Street at the 1871 census. Her daughter Leah, with two daughters of her own, had returned to live with her. She was unmarried.


1871 Census. 46 East Street . Chulmleigh

Maria Sampson     Head     Widow   65   Nurse     Bristol

Leah Greenslade    Daur   Unmar 28   Lacemaker   Cheldon

Mary Ann Greenslade Granddaur   “   5   Scholar     Chulmleigh

Louisa Greenslade   “     “   3 “ “


In the 1861 census there were Honiton lacemakers, also called Samson, living in Bull Hill, though no known relation,. With the competition from cheaper machine-made lace, hand lace-makers earned, literally, ‘pin-money’, not a living wage. By 1881, Leah and a possible 6-year-old daughter Ellen were paupers in the workhouse in South Molton.. Leah was listed as a lace worker.

The grand-daughters who were living with Maria in the 1871 census are elsewhere. Mary Ann was a servant on a farm at King's Nympton and 13-year-old Louisa was in Stoke Damerel, Plymouth, with an uncle, the grocer William Greenslade from Chard.

Honiton was famous for hand-made lace. This was a beautiful fabric made on a pillow. Around the turn of the century it began to be replaced by inferior bobbin-net, made by machinery. In many areas Luddites smashed the machinery to protect the handmade product. In 1816, these disturbances caused John Heathcoat to leave Loughborough and set up a factory in Honiton. It employed 1500 people, making and dyeing lace, net and fine fabrics.His machines achieved a lace very similar in quality to that of pillow-made lace.




Next Generation: 4. SAMPSON-HARRIS

Previous Generations: 6. SAMPSON-EDWORTHY

                                 6. MATHEWS-TURNER






  Suzie's search for a rare document takes her to a nearby stately home. She does not realise that this will put first her son, then herself in deadly danger