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)
EDMUND SNELL (15)
EDMUND SNELL. Our earliest record of the Snells of Chawleigh comes in the 1524 Lay Subsidy Roll. Edmund Snell is assessed for goods at £20. This is by far the highest rating in the parish. The next is £10.
Chawleigh is a small village on the high ground between the rivers Taw and Little Dart. It is 2 ½ miles from the little market town of Chulmleigh. Its name means Calves Clearing.
The Snells were well-to-do people. In this rural setting it is reasonable to assume that Edmund was a prosperous yeoman farmer. In this part of Devon, with its high level pastures, he would have been raising sheep, to supply Devon’s thriving wool industry.
Edmond must have been born in the 15th century, probably during the Wars of the Roses between the houses of York and Lancaster. Under the lordship of the Courtenays, Earls of Devon, the county mostly supported the house of Lancaster. By the time this Lay Subsidy Roll was taken, we are well into the reign of the second Tudor king, Henry VIII.
We have no certain information about Edmond’s wife. He does not appear in the 1544 Lay Subsidy -Roll, but there is a Joan Snell widow. She, like Edmund before her, is rated at £20, as are two others, including Henry Snell, who we believe to be Edmund’s grandson. This is again the highest rate for Chawleigh. Joan may be the widow of Edmond or, more probably, of his son Richard.
The parish church of St James was built in the 15th and early 16th centuries, though it has been renovated since. It has a fine early 16th century porch, with an embattled parapet, carved with panels containing quatrefoil decoration. Edmond and his family would have seen this being built and passed through it on their way to services every Sunday. As the wealthiest parishioner Edmond may well have contributed to the church building.
St James, Chawleigh 
There is a burial within the church of Richard Snell, who died in 1540, and his son Henry, who died in 1591. Since Edmund is the only taxpaying Snell in Chawleigh a generation before 1540, it is reasonable to assume that Richard is his son.
We know from the inscription on the grave slab that Richard Snell was a benefactor of the church and it is very likely that Edmund was too.
Edmund does not appear in the 1544 Lay Subsidy Rolls and had presumably died before this. We do not know whether he lived long enough to see the Reformation and the institution of the Church of England under Henry VIII.
NEXT GENERATION: 14. SNELL