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Fay Sampson’s Family History

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)

Sampson Tree




RICHARD EDWORTHY.  The surviving church registers for the little North Devon village of Cheldon begin in 1673. John Edworthy and Richard Edworthy are having children baptised in the 1670s and 80s, John from 1676 and Richard from 1679. There may, especially in John’s case, be children born  before 1673. [1]

In the absence of any evidence of an extended family, we believe these two to be brothers and that the Edworthys had moved to Cheldon earlier that century. Ann Edworthy, widow, who appears in a list of ratepayers in 1673, is almost certainly their mother.

Their father had died before the start of the registers. From the preponderance of the name John among their descendants, and in neighbouring Chawleigh, where we believe the Edworthys may have come from, this was probably their father’s name. [2]

Men usually married and began their families in their mid- to late twenties. From this, we should expect the younger John to have been born around 1650 and Richard shortly after.

Comparison of lists of ratepayers, one giving personal names, another houses, leads us to believe that the Edworthys’ home was Henroost. This was in the village centre on a road NE of the church.

The boys grew up in the Commonwealth period following the execution of Charles I. They would have been too young to remember the Civil War, when Cheldon was fiercely Parliamentarian. What they would have known was the strict Puritan discipline with which Oliver Cromwell ruled as Lord Protector. The festivals of Christmas, Easter and Whitsun were abolished. Cock-fighting and stage-plays were outlawed. Swearing was punished with a fine, blasphemy with imprisonment, and adultery, in law at least, with death. You were not allowed to play games on Sunday. The brothers may well have been among those who welcomed a merrier England with the Restoration of the Monarchy under Charles II in 1660.

In the 1670s, their mother, and presumably before that their father, was one of the seven principal ratepayers in Cheldon. She was joint sixth on the list. The Edworthys were from a family of some status in the village, but not the richest.


ELIZABETH. We know from the baptismal register that John married Margaret, and Richard Elizabeth. The marriages must have taken place in the 1670s or, in John’s case, shortly before. We do not have a record of either marriage, so we do not know their wives’ maiden names. Weddings usually took place in the bride’s parish. Elizabeth may have come from a parish whose registers begin later. The neighbouring village of West Worlington is a possibility.


John and Margaret had three known children baptised in Cheldon: George 1676, Edward 1681 and Joseph 1686. There may be others before 1673 or in 1682-4 when there is a break in the registers. Margaret died in March 1786/7.


We also know of four children for Richard and Elizabeth.

Baptisms. St Mary, Cheldon.

1679 May 31  Ann. Ann was buried the following month.

1680/1 Mar 22  John

1686 Jun 29  Jane

1692 Apr 19  Grace

Joane Edworthy, daughter of Richard and Elizabeth was buried on 22 Apr 1705. She may be the same girl as Jane.

We believe there was also a son George born in that gap between 1682-4. In the next generation there are two George Edworthys raising children in Cheldon. One was married in 1699, giving an estimated birth date which tallies with John and Margaret’s son George, baptised in 1676. The other married in 1708/9. This would give him an estimated birth date in the early 1680s. The matches exactly the date of the missing registers. This George called his first son Richard, which makes it probable that his father was Richard Edworthy.[3]

He appears in the records as “George Edworthy cripple”. We do not know whether he was born with this condition or whether it happened later. But it did not stop him making a success of his life. We learn from further records that he became a tailor. He also served his turn as churchwarden, like his father before him, meaning that he was one of the principal ratepayers in Cheldon.


In 1682 Ann Edworthy, widow, whom we believe to be Richard and John’s mother, was appointed to be the next churchwarden for Cheldon. This office circulated amongst the seven principal ratepayers.

In fact, the next set of churchwarden’s accounts is headed:

“The Account of Richard Edworthy Church warden for the year last past made the 17 day of Aprill 1683.”

It was common for someone else, often a son, to perform the duties on a woman’s behalf.

The accounts begin, as is customary: “for my travell etc.” Every churchwarden had to make the 15-mile journey to the Archdeacon’s court in Barnstaple to swear the oath of office and collect the Book of Articles.

This Book of Articles required the churchwarden to answer four groups of questions.

  1. The condition of the church and churchyard.
  2. The conduct of public worship, and the behaviour of the incumbent.
  3. Church property – goods, lands and buildings.
  4. The moral standards and behaviour of the laity.

Churchwardens were responsible to the parishioners for the goods and funds in their care and must account for them each year at the parish meeting. They also had responsibility for the maintenance of order and decency in the church and churchyard, particularly during the time of divine service.

Richard’s accounts also include:

“for my labour for fetching the Timber  £0.1. 01.”

Three years later, in 1686, the churchwarden’s accounts record:

“Payd Richard Edworthy for Shuttings of Ropes, Nailes, & Oyle. £00. 01. 00.”



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Cheldon with church tower [4]


Richard died in 1712. He was probably around 60.

Burial. St Mary, Cheldon

March the 30 1712  Richard Edworthy of this psh.

April ye 6th  Dorothy Voysey made affidavit that Richard Edworthy was buried in Sheeps woollen only, according to Act of Parliament .


This was an act to protect the wool trade. The affidavit was sworn by the woman who prepared the body for burial. There are similar declarations before this, but the burial records on the remainder of this page do not carry the affidavit.


His death was two years before the death of Queen Anne, the last Stuart monarch.

Elizabeth lived another 17 years, into the reign of the second Hanoverian king, George II.

Burial. St Mary, Cheldon

1729 Decembr ye 21  Elizabeth Edworthy.



[1] BMDs from Findmypast.

[2] See 11. EDWORTHY for more details.

[3] See 9. EDWORTHY-OLDEN for more details.

[4] © Roger Smith. Creative Commons Licence. http://s0.geograph.org.uk/geophotos/04/36/60/4366020_6b6ff337.jpg







Sampson Tree