15. FORSTER

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Fay Sampson’s Family History

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

Sampson  Tree

 

Charlotte image

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

FORSTERS (15)

 

The tiny church of Stoke Pero stands on the slopes of the steep-sided Lang Combe in West Somerset, 3 miles south of Porlock.

It displays the usual list of rectors, going back to medieval times. Less usually, it records the names of the patrons presenting those rectors. The list includes:

1579 Sep 20 William Warren presented by Margaret Sowthcombe.

Margaret is probably the widow of Robert Southcombe of Mariansleigh, 16 miles away in North Devon. The list of patrons preceding her provides a strong clue to the family she came from. Margaret does not seem to have acquired the advowson of Stoke Pero through her husband. There are no Southcombes on the list. It is most likely that it came to her through her own family, either as an inheritance or as part of her dowry.

A fuller list is given in Charles Healey’s History of this part of West Somerset.[1]

In the two centuries preceding and immediately following Margaret we find the following patrons:

1407  May 13. JOHN PLOMER, presented by Simon atte Combe upon the resignation of Spoer “ultimi rectoris”.

. . .       JOHN STOKE

1407-8  January 3.  JOHN BRYDE, or BRYTT, presented by Patrick Forster on the death of John Stok “ultimi rectoris”.

1474  March 31. EDMUND POWER, presented by John Forster of Hopcote in Wotton Courteney, upon the death of John Brytt.

. . .       EDMUND WALSH

1489  November 26.  ALAN GLASION, or GLASTON, presented by John Hadley, guardian of Robert Forster, kinsman and heir of Patrick Forster, upon the death of Edmund Walsh, “ultimi rectoris”.

1499  March 26.  JOHN WESTCOTT, or WESCOT, presented by John Forster upon the death of Alan Glaston.

1506  September 18.  JOHN DOBSUN, or DOBSON, presented by John Forster upon the death of John Wescot.

1509  November 26.  JOHN HUGONS, or HIGONS, presented by John Forster upon the resignation of John Dobson.

1522  July 16.  HUGH LOCKYAR, presented by John Forster of Luxborough upon the death of John Higons.

Rector in 1544-5.  JOHN TITHERLEY. As such he contributed to the subsidy of that year.

1579  September 20.  WILLIAM WARREN presented by Margaret Sowthcombe.

1623  July 14.  JOHN HARDING, presented by Nicholas Nutcombe upon the death of William Warren.

Since Nicholas Nutcombe was the son of John Nutcombe and Joan Forster, it is almost certain that Margaret was one of the Forster family.

Yet the list of Stoke Pero patrons is far from being a family tree. There are too many John Forsters for comfort. There are long gaps, in which other patrons may have come and gone. The rector in 1535 was Hugh Leky.[2] We do not know who presented him. Similarly, the mid-16th century rector John Titherley may have been presented by John Forster, the previous patron, by Margaret Sowthcombe, the next patron, or by a third, unknown, person. In some cases we know that there was not a direct succession from parent to child..

Other documents tell us more about these Forsters and the estates they owned:

1410  John, son of Henry Foster, held half a knight’s fee in Stoke-Pero and Bagley, of Ralph Durborough, as of the manor of Almsworthy.[3]

1435  Leases for lives. The first party is Joan Forster, widow of John Forster.  Lands at Luxborough, except ploy called Purssey and water course of John Oteway in Hertahyer to water his meadow at all times of the year.[4]

John may be Patrick’s son, or possibly brother.

1456-1460  Chancery pleadings addressed to William, Bishop of Winchester as Lord Chancellor. Thomas Walesburgh, esq: heir of Simon Raleigh, esq: of Nettlecombe (Netilcomb) v Patrick Forster, heir of Henry Forster, feoffee of the said Simon. Manor and advowson of Alford alias Alyngford, and manors of Owleknoll and Cutcombe (Codecomb), Somerset. [5]

Henry may not be Patrick’s father.

1475 Leases for lives. The first party is Patrick Forster, gent, and the second party Simon Forster, son of Patrick, and Joan his wife.[6]

1475  Confirmation. Patric Forster. Lullokesburgh, Luxborough Eve and Lullokesburgh Everard, Weddon, Slade, Millham, Hawkwill and Wodecombe.[7]

This is unlikely to be the Patrick of 1408. He is perhaps John’s son.

1489  Letter of Attorney. The first party is John Forster. Land called Wheddon in Cutcombe.[8]

1493-1500  Chancery pleadings addressed to the Cathedral Archbishop of Canterbury as Lord Chancellor. John, son and heir of Thomas Foster, of Luxborough v Roger Walashe. Detention of deeds  to messuages and land in Happecote in Wotton Courteney, late of Patrick Foster, complainant’s grandfather.[9]

Headley found evidence that Thomas was the son of John, not Patrick. It may be that ‘grandfather’ was used in a looser way in those days.

  1. 1494. On the 20th September, 1494, Joan, the daughter of Robert Forster, died seised of Hopcott and of lands in Stoke Pero. Her heir was found to be John, son of Thomas Forster, brother of John, Robert Forster’s

1512  Feoffement.  1.John Forster, gent. Lands in Old Cleeve, St Decuman’s, Nettlecombe, Stoke Pero.[10]

1520  Grant. John Foster. Right to cut a leat from Gorrett Water in parish of Luxborough and to maintain it.[11]

1524  Feoffment.  John Forster, heir of Robert Foster. Meadow, pasture and woodland in Luxborough, Cutcombe and Wheddon.[12]

This is our generation IV.

1558-1603  In the reign of Queen Elizabeth there were some proceedings in chancery, in which James Foster was the plaintiff and Roger Siderfinne defendant, respecting a lease of land, parcel of the manor of Luxborough, of which manor John Foster, the plaintiff’s grandfather, was lord and after him James Foster, the plaintiff’s father, who demised the said land to William Siderfinne deceased.

1570  John Foster of Pille, Somerset, gent. Will dated Mar 21, 1570, proved May 9, 1570 by Joan the relict. To be buried at Luxborough. Poor of Nettlecombe & Dunster. To my wife Joan my manor of Luxborough & all my lands, &c, then to John Foster, my brother, & his heirs, then to James Foster, my 2nd brother, then to Thomas Foster, my 4th brother. Grants made by James Foster, my father. Emma Foster, my mother. My brother Robert Foster, Clerk, the Advowsons of Culve (Kilve) & Stringston, & all glebe lands being the gift of Dame Catherine Rogers. The two daughters of my brother John Foster. My brothers in law Nicholas, Thomas & Alexander Baker. My mother in law Joane Baker, £4. Nicolas Strete, gent, an annuity of 10/-. My wife Joan, Exix.[13]

1570  Counterpart lease. James Foster and others. Slade, Hawkridge.[14]

1577  Marriage settlement.  John Forster of Stawley and his daughter Joan, concerning her marriage to John Nutcombe. Lands in Stoke Pero, Hawkridge, Luxborough and Exton, except Nothcollie Hill and commons belonging and Bearland and Bearcland.[15]

1581  John fforster, of Strawleigh, Somerset, gent. Will dated Apr 28, 1581, proved June 15, 1581, by Alice the relict. To my daughter Agnes one gold ring, &c. My wife Alice. To Agnes a messuage in Cutcombe & Luxboro. My son in law John Nutcombe & Johan his wife. Meadow in Exton. My daughter Johan, &c.[16]

 

An attempt to construct a family tree might look something like this:

I Henry Foster
II John Forster, son of Henry. He died before 1435, and owned lands in Luxborough. Husband of Joan.

Patrick Forster. Patron in 1408. His connection with his predecessor Simon atte Combe is unknown.. A Patrick Foster was said in a Chancery case to be the grandfather of John, son of Thomas. He may in fact be John’s great-grandfather.

III John Forster, father of Robert and Thomas. Probably son of Patrick. He may be John Forster of Hopcott in Wootton Courtenay, who presented the rector in 1474. The latter died before 1489.

Patrick, of the 1475 lawsuits. Heir of Henry in 1450s? Son of Patrick?

IV Robert, son of John.  Robert was still a minor when he presented the rector in 1489. He died before 1494, leaving his daughter Joan as his heir.

Thomas, son of John.

Simon, son of Patrick. His wife was Joan.

V Joan, Robert’s daughter, died, apparently unmarried, in 1494. She owned Hopcott and lands in Stoke Pero. Her heir was her cousin John.

John, Thomas’s son. John may be the one who owned land in Wheddon in 1489 . He was presumably the patron of Stoke Pero in 1499, and possibly in 1506 and 1509. He may be the one who owned land in 5 parishes in 1512. He may also be the patron, John Forster, lord of the manor of Luxborough, in 1522 and the John, heir of Robert who owned meadows and woods in 1524.  John had a son James.

VI Alternatively, John Forster of Luxborough, who presented the rector in 1522, may be the next generation. He died before 1579.

James Forster, son of John, whose wife was Emma.[17] Lord of the manor of Luxborough. He was the father of five sons He died in or before 1570. He could be the James who owned Hawkridge in 1570.

VII John Forster of Pille in Somerset, died 1570. Son of James and Emma. His wife was Joan Baker. He died without issue. He asked to be buried in Luxborough and left his manor of Luxborough and all his lands to Joan, then to his brothers and their heirs.

John, son of James and Emma. Probably the John Forster of Strawleigh (Stawley), who died in 1581. His wife was Alice. He owned land in Cutcombe, Luxborough and Exton.

James, son of James and Emma.

Robert, son of James and Emma. Cllerk, or clergyman.

Thomas, son of James and Emma.

VIII Agnes. daughter of  John and Alice of Luxborough and Stawley.

Joan, daughter of  John and Alice. Married John Nutcombe in 1577. The marriage settlement involved several of the Forster estates.

IX Nicholas Nutcombe. Eldest son of Joan and John Nutcombe. Presented the rector in 1623. Susan, daughter of Joan and John Nutcombe. Married John Radford.

 

The difficulty is in deciding where Margaret Southcombe fits into this family. She presented William Warren to the living of Stoke Pero in 1579, the year before she died. The ages of her children suggest that she was born before 1520 and married in the 1530s. Joan Forster married John Nutcombe in 1577. This places Margaret in an earlier generation. We can rule out John Forster of Pille and Luxborough as her father, since we have the details of his will. Her father may be John Forster, lord of the manor of Luxborough who presented the rector in 1522.

The advowson of Stoke  Pero might have come to her as a legacy or as part of her dowry. What is not clear is why the advowson did not pass to one of Margaret’s sons at her death.

Another possibility is that she was not a Forster by birth. She might have been married to a Forster, widowed, and then remarried to Robert Southcombe. Like the widow of John Forster of Pille, she might have been left lands and advowsons for her lifetime, which would then pass to her first husband’s male heir. The most likely husband in that case would be also be John Forster patron in 1522. James might have been his heir. Since James and his eldest son John died before Margaret, the surviving male heir at Margaret’s death would have been John of Stawley and Luxborough. He died in 1581, the year after Margaret, and his co-heir was his daughter Joan, the mother of Nicholas Nutcombe. This would be consistent with Nicholas being the next patron to present a rector after Margaret.

If she was not the wife, but the daughter of John Forster, lord of the manor of Luxborough in 1522, then she may be descended from:

I Henry, II Patrick, III John, IV Thomas, V John.

The Forster lands evidently centred around Luxborough in West Somerset, where they were lords of the manor.

Luxborough is a village 3½  miles south of Dunster in a steep-sided valley.

Wootton Courtenay lies some 3 miles SW of Minehead at the foot of steep hills. Many buildings are made of the local bright red sandstone. The farm of Higher Hopcott lies to the NE, on the other side of Hopcott Common and close to Minehead.

Weddon is near Wheddon Cross, on the A386 from Tiverton to Dunster, SW of Dunkery Beacon. It lies in the parish of Cutcombe.

Millham may be in the Dulverton area, between Tiverton and Minehead.

Hawkridge lies on the southern edge of Exmoor, above the River Barle.

Exton is on the upper reaches of the Exe, where it cuts between Exmoor and the Brendon Hills.

Old Cleeve is between Minehead and Watchet, near the coast.

St Decuman’s is the parish church of Watchet.

Nettlecombe is SW of Williton, near the larger village of Monksilver.

 

If Margaret was a Forster, all of these estates would have been in the hands of her family. If she was only a Forster by marriage, then we do not know what estates she may have been given, other than the advowson of Stoke Pero.

 

Stoke Pero church stands on the hillside of an out-of-the way combe south of Porlock. The lane that leads to it is steep and narrow. It was always a small, sparsely-populated parish, most of it being moorland. Today, Church Farm stands beside it and another farm on the opposite side of the valley. There are no other houses in sight. Once there was a rectory alongside the church.

The present tiny church was rebuilt in 1897, but the tower and porch are still as they were in Margaret’s time. The tower is short. It is thought that the intention was to build it higher, but that the scheme ran out of money. The tower stairs go right up to the roof.

Oddly, it is only ever referred to as Stoke Pero Church. The dedication has been lost. The place was known in the Domesday Book simply as Stoche. . Stoke can mean a holy place, but in this case it may refer to tree stumps, or an area cleared of trees. It remained Stoke until at least 1242. The name Pero was added in the 14th century, after the surname of the landowners at that time.

The oldest of the three bells carries an inscription to St Barbara. It dates from the early 16th century. That does not necessarily mean that the church was dedicated to St Barbara.

 

Writing in 1901, Healey says of the parish: “It comprises a cultivated tract of small inclosures surrounded by stretches of wild wind-swept moorland country, intersected by deep and richly wooded combes through which run, with pleasant murmur and now and then a gentle roaring, the Horner water and other streams rising in the height of Dunkery. Sparsely populated, and until recent years destitute of roads other than mere horse-tracks, the parish was as isolated as any in the country.”

It must have been even more difficult of access in 1579.

In his History of the Hundred of Carhampton, James Savage says: “It is bounded by the parishes of Porlock, Luccombe, Cutcombe, and Exford, lying in one of those deep valleys which wind among the hills between Dunkery, Exmoor, and other high lands. This is a mountainous district, and is intersected by deep ravines, through some of which, whose sides are covered with wood, rushes the Horner, in summer a rivulet, but in winter a mountain torrent. The country is exceedingly wild, but still it has its peculiar beauties, and the lover of nature and romantic scenery, will here be amply gratified; dark and thick clouds often rest on the summit of the hills, whilst the plains and the valleys are enjoying the bright rays of the sun. The village is small, and consists of ten or twelve meanly thatched cottages, which stand near the church. There is also a small hamlet, lying a little to the westward of the village, called Wilmotsham or Wilmersham.

A part of Dunkery is within the confines of this parish and to the west lies the long wild tract of Exmoor…  The occupiers of land here are chiefly employed in breeding cattle and sheep. There is much woodland and some heathy wilds; the roads are few and bad, and not much used; they are impassable for any carriages, being so steep, narrow and encumbered with large loose stones, that they are, generally speaking, dangerous even for horses; in short, the inhabitants have very little intercourse with the rest of the world, the parish being as isolated a spot as any in the whole county. The woods and hills abound with whortleberry plants (called provincially worts) and with many curious mosses.”[18]

 

[1] Charles E. H. Chadwyck Healey, The history of the part of West Somerset Comprising the Parishes of Luccombe, Selworthy, Stoke Pero, Porlock, Culbone and Oare, Henry Sothern and Co, 1901. The illustrations are from this book.
[2] James Savage, A History of the Hundred of Carhampton in the County of Somerset. William Strong, Bristol, 1830. http://books.google.co.uk.
[3] Savage
[4] A2A: 1782 M/L/6
[5] National Archives: C 1/26/579. Court of Chancery. Six Clerks Office.
[6] A2A: 1782 M/L/7
[7] A2A: 2912 M/T/21
[8] A2A: 1782 M/T/21
[9] National Archives: C 1/201/6. Court of Chancery. Six Clerks Office.
[10] A2A: 1782 M/T/22
[11] A2A: 2912 M/T/22
[12] A2A: 1782 M/T/23
[13] Will of John Forster of Pille. Abstracts of Somerset Wills [WSL].
[14] A2A: 2912 M/T/24
[15] A2A: 1782 M/T/24
[16] Will of John fforster of Strawleigh. Abstracts of Somerset Wills [WSL].
[17] Will of John Forster of Pille. Abstracts of Somerset Wills [WSL].
[18] Savage.

 

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