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)
SIR JORDAN HACCOMBE and ISABELLA DE ST AUBYN (22)
SIR ROBERT CRUWYS and ISABELLA DE ST AUBYN (20)
Isabella de St Aubyn is an ancestor twice over, first through her marriage to Jordan Haccombe, and again through her second marriage to Robert Cruwys.
His home was Haccombe House, in a little valley just south of the Teign estuary.
Numerous ancient sources say he married Isabella de St Aubyn.
ISABELLA DE ST AUBYN was the daughter of Mauger de St Aubyn and Isabella Pidekwille. She was born in the late 13th century.
Her father was lord of the manor of Pickwell, in the parish of Georgeham. Pickwell stands above Morte Bay, on the coast south-west of Ilfracombe. It was earlier known as Pidekwille or Pidekeswell, and Isabella’s mother’s name indicates that she brought this manor to the St Aubyn estates on her marriage.
She had a sister Joan and a brother Mauger.
When their father died in 1294, their brother Mauger was only 12. Malcolm de Harle, the King’s Escheator, took over the St Aubyn estates during the boy’s minority.
Mauger junior died without issue sometime before 1316. Joan and Isabella were left as his heirs. They inherited considerable estates.
Isabella’s first husband was Sir Jordan Haccombe. Legal documents were written in Latin at that time, and Isabella’s name is Latinised as ‘de Sancto Albino’.
Isabella brought her share of the North Devon family lands to the Haccombes.
A deed of 1316 says: “9 Edward II Jordan de Haccombe certified pursuant to a writ tested at Clipston, 5 March, as one of the lords of the townships of Ham and Pickwell, and the two Wollacombes in the County of Devon.” All the places mentioned are in north-west Devon, on or near Woolacombe Bay. Ham is an early name for Georgeham. They are the ancestral lands of the St Aubyns and Pidekwilles, from Isabella’s parents. The other lord was presumably Jordan Vautort, who was the first husband of Isabella’s sister and co-heir, Joan.
Isabella and Joan are mentioned in a deed dated 3 July 1318.
Isabella de Sancto Albino & Joan sisters & heirs of Mauger, son of Mauger de SA, claimants … by William de Lucy, in her place by Kings Writ, & Guy de Sancto Albino, deforcient re the manor of Parracombe & advowdson of the church of that manor.
Guy granted the manor etc to Isabella. After Isabella’s death, shall remain to Stephen de SA & his heirs. Should Stephen die without heirs, then manor to John, brother of Stephen. If John dies without heirs, back to Guy and his heirs. For this Isabella gave to Guy 100 marks of silver. Endorsed: Isabella & Joan, sisters and heirs of Mauger, son of Mauger de SA, put in their claim.
A daughter Cecily, or Cecilia, was born of Isabella’s marriage to Jordan Haccombe.
W. Searley concludes that Jordan was not of a robust constitution. Unlike the enormous list of appointments and activities that we have for his father Stephen, we have very little information about Jordan’s career. We should not have expected to hear so much about him while his father was still lord of the Haccombe manors, but Jordan was lord of other manors through his marriage to Isabella. It is likely that he was unable to take an active part in public affairs.
Jordan died around 1320. Both his parents were still alive, and it must have been a grievous blow to them to lose their only child. There was no male heir now to carry on the name at Haccombe. Jordan’s heir was his young, unmarried daughter Cecily.
Isabella married again. Her second husband was Sir Robert Cruwys of Cruwys Morchard.
Her sister Joan was also widowed and remarried.
A ruling in 1390 on the advowson of Hamme St George (Georgeham) gives details of their marriages.
De Banco Roll. Easter 14 Ric. II. m. 209.
Abstract. Devon. Warine Lercedekne, chr., & John Lynley, clk., were summoned to answer to John Holand earl of Huntyngdon and Martin Lercedekne, clk., concerning the advowson of Hamme St George.
The earl & Martin , by William Willesdon their attorney, say that Mauger Seintaubyn was seised of a messuage, 2 carucates of land, 10 acres of wood & £4 rent in Hamme, which is a long town of two parts, Overhamme & Netherhamme, the whole being called Hamme St George. Mauger presented to the church Edmund Knouyle, temp. Edw II. From Mauger those lands, with appurtenances in Pydykwell & Asshelond fell to Joan & Isabel, his daughters: Joan married Jordan Vautort and Isabel married Jordan Haccombe, & had issue Cicely, after Jordan Haccombe’s death Isabel married Robert Cruwes, chr.: he & Jordan Vautort presented Willam Donne temp. Edw III. After Jordan Vautort’s death Joan married Thomas Merton; he and Robert Cruwes presented John Dirworth, temp. Edw. III.
Warin Lercedekne and Martin Lercedekne were Isabel’s grandsons through her daughter Cicely Haccombe.
Isabella’s marriage probably took place in the 1320s.
SIR ROBERT CRUWYS was the eldest son of Alexander Cruwys, lord of the manor of Cruwys Morchard, and his wife Constance. He is thought to have been born around 1299, and was therefore younger than Isabella.
It was about the time of their marriage that the Cruwys family fortunes suffered a severe reversal, caused by the aggressive behaviour of Robert’s father. He killed one of the Carew family in a duel on Bickleigh Bridge and had to forfeit considerable holdings as a fine. The ‘twenty manors’ recorded in Prince’s The Worthies of Devon, is a gross exaggeration but when Robert succeeded to the lordship of Cruwys Morchard he was plagued with debts.
The following year, Robert’s father, Sir Alexander Cruwys, died.
That same year, 5 Aug 1331, Sir Robert Cruwys, knight, granted or released to his brother Richard his manor of Cruwys Morchard and his estate of Great and Little Rackenford and Sydeham, and the two advowsons of Cruwys Morchard and Rackenford. The following year, Devon Feet of Fines (these are third copies of contracts between two parties) shows that this arrangement was reversed. Robert de Cruwys and Isabella his wife were joint ‘claimants’ and Richard Cruwys was the ‘defendant’ when the matter was brought to Westminster on 17 May 1332 and 27 Jan 1332/3. Richard is described as the son of ‘Alexander de Cruwys, cavalier’. The full list of the manors and other properties was: Cruwys Morchard, Pydekewells or Pickwell, in Georgeham, Netherhamme in Georgeham, Overhamme in Georgeham, Churchill, South Lobbe in Braunton, Ilfracombe, Great Rackenford, Sydford in Rackenham, Crediton, Chulmleigh, Haxon in Bratton Fleming, Oakford. The advowsons were the right to appoint the incumbent to the churches in Cruwys Morchard, Overhamme in Georgeham, and Great Rackenford. It is an impressive list. Some of the North Devon properties and advowsons had clearly been brought to the marriage by Isabella. This temporary transfer of property may have been a tax avoidance measure.
In 1332 a list was drawn up showing the principal inhabitants of Cruwys Morchard and the taxes they paid.
Robto de Cruwes 3s Robto de la Lane 8d
Henro Parkre 12d Robto atte Forse 8d
Henro Mody 8d Henro atte More 8d
Walto Goghaland 8d Thom atte Lane 8d
Robto Bysshop 12d Robto Filleknap 8d
Rogo de Notheracote 8d Walto Gibba 12d
Rogo Egheworthi 12d
The lord of the manor’s assessment is three times that of the next most affluent parishioners, but it probably nowhere near reflects the difference in their wealth.
In 1332, and again in 1349, Sir Robert Crues is listed in the Exeter Episcopal Registers as the patron of Rackenford and Cruwys Morchard churches.
In 1332 Isabel de Sancto Albino paid 12d. in the 1332 lay subsidy at Pickwell. The name is also listed at Parracombe. This may be Isabella Cruwys’s widowed mother.
On 20 Jan 1334 the escheator for Somerset, Devon, Cornwall and Dorset was ordered to take into the king’s hand ‘the lands of the late Alexander de Cruwys, deceased, tenant in chief’. The practical significance of this is not clear.
The foundation deed of the Haccombe Archpresbytery, dated around 1341, lists Isabella amongst those for whom the chantry priests are required to pray for the repose of their souls. There is another list for living members of the family to be prayed for.
This early death date does not agree with the record of Sir Robert de Cruwys as Isabella’s co-patron of Georgeham in 1344 and 1349.
There is a tomb in Haccombe church which is thought to be that of either Isabella or Cecily. Given Isabella’s move to Cruwys Morchard, the latter seems more probable, certainly if Alexander was still a child when Isabella died. If she lived longer, she might have chosen to end her days with her daughter at Haccombe when Alexander took over Cruwys Morchard House.
Robert Cruwys has the distinction of meriting a chapter in John Prince’s The Worthies of Devon, written about 1700. The entry begins:
[Flor. A.D. 1346 R.R. Edw. 3]
CRUWYS, Sir Robert Kt was born at the antient seat of the name and family, in the parish now called Morchard, in the hundred of Witheridge, about five miles to the west of Tiverton in this county.
There follows a lengthy discussion of the origin of the names Cruwys and Morchard, and an account of the previous history of the family. Prince returns to Robert:
who was the eldest son of Sir Alexander Cruwys, that was unhappily engaged in a duel with Carew: of which before. Whose father having greatly exhausted and incumbered his estate, this young gentleman betook himself to the wars; which he chose rather to do, as became a man of honour; when by serving his King and country, he might get profit and renown abroad, than to lie rusting at home in sloth and luxury: and like a true bred English gentleman, however some effeminate beaus ridicule them by the name of grinning honours, and honourable scars, he rather sought danger than declined it: and having acquitted himself well, returned back to his native country with great reputation.
The campaigns in which Robert fought were the early stages of the Hundred Years War with France. The causes were threefold. (1) successive English kings claimed large territories in France through their descent from William, Duke of Normandy, and from Henry Plantagenet’s queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine. (2) They also laid claim to the crown of France, because of the intermarriage between the French and English royal houses. (3) France was a rich country, offering unrivalled opportunities for plunder.
The scene on which he acted his part was France: and the general under which he served was that famous captain, the Lord Walter de Manny; who tho’ a foreigner by birth, had a great estate in England, and some in Devonshire. For we are told, South-Huish, near King’s-bridge, was his, in the reign of K. Edw. 3. If we would then know what particular exploits our Sir Robert Cruwys was engaged in, we must enquire into the actions of that great commander; in most, if not all which, we may suppose him to have a share.
In the 14th of Edw. 3, this lord made great spoil in the north parts of France, slew more than a thousand soldiers, and burnt three villages. In the 15th of Edw. 3, he came to the castle of Conquest, which the French had won the day before; saying, ‘He would not go thence, till he saw who were in the castle, and how it had been won:’ and at length finding a breach in the wall, entered thereat. About that time also, he attended upon K. Edw. 3, to the siege of Nanty; when the King made him several grants of priviledges and emoluments, for the support of himself and 50 men at arms, with 50 archers on horse back, in that expedition then made into France. His own wages as a banneret was 4s per diem, the knights (which are twelve) 2s a piece; the esquires, 1s and the archers 6d.
In the 18th of Ed. 3, being one of the mareschals of the host to the Earl of Derby, he went with him to the assault of Bergerath (says Dugd., which I take to be Bergerac a city of Perigord) in France, which being made by sea and land; the town then yielded. After this in the 19th of the same King, he was at the relief of Auberoche; where falling on the French in their tents, he utterly vanquished their whole host. Shortly after, he was at the taking of Mauleon, where he did great service.
In the 20th of Edw. 3, he was and most likely Sir Robert Cruwys also, in the famous Battel of Cressi, being an eminent commander in the van of the English army: a little before the battel began, what is somewhat remarkable, ‘tis said, that shoals and clouds of baleful ravens, and other birds of prey and ravin (as fore-shewing the harvest of carcasses at hand) came flying over the French hoast. Here the English obtained a glorious victory; which the historian makes a controversy of, whether ‘twas owing to the exemplary manhood of the English, or their singular piety. ‘Great was the victory’, says he, ‘great was the prowess, and great the glory: but they, like christian knights and soldiers, forbore all boast; referring the whole thanks and honour to God.’ [Speed. Chron.] Soon after the battel K. Edward went and sate down before the strong town of Calais, which the Lord Manny knowing (being now, as I suppose, with the Duke of Lancaster in Guien) among his prisoners at Cressi, having taken a French Kt., who offered three thousand crowns for his ransom, he remitted the whole sum for a pass, which he obtained from the K. of France, thatt he might ride through part of his country, with twenty of his company, to Calais, then besieged by the English.
Whether Sir Robert was one of this twenty that accompanied the Lord Manny is uncertain; most likely he was not, but rather stayed behind with those forces he had left, with Henry of Lancaster, Earl of Derby; who (the Duke of Normandy being sent for by the King of France, to come to the relief of Calais, which yet they were not able to effect) was left Master of the Field in Guyenne. And having a considerable army there, of 1200 men at arms, 2000 archers, and 3000 other foot, took in most of the towns of Xantoigne and Poictou; and in the end, besieged and sacked Poictiers: and then returned to Burdeaux, with more Pillage than his people could well bear. So Sir R. Baker expressly tells us.
That Sir Robert Cruwys was in this Action and a great contributor to the success thereof, is more than probable; in that I find it recorded of him, “That he gave his acquittance for his wages at Burdeaux,” an. 20 Edw. 3, which was the same year the victory was obtained at Cressi, with the slaughter of 11 princes, 80 barons, 1200 knights, and 3000 common soldiers of the French.
That Sir Robert Cruwys should fight under the command of Lord Manny, let none esteem it as a disparagement to his honour; when K. Edward himself, and the Black Prince, his son, either in the taking (as Dugdon) or defending (as Baker) of the town of Calais, fought under his banner. In all, or most of whose exploits, this our countryman was so signally assisting, that he received the honour of knighthood upon that account; tho’ whether from the general or the King’s hand immediately, is not mentioned. For so we are expressly told, “That Sir Robert Crews, of Crews-Morchard, as they are vulgarly called, was knighted for his valiant service done in France, under the leading of Lord Walter Manny, in the age of K. Edw. 3.”
The siege of Calais had lasted eleven months. When it was finally broken, King Edward ordered the burghers of Calais to come out wearing only their shirts, and with ropes round their necks. Their lives were saved by the intervention of Edward’s queen, Philippa of Hainault.
Margaret Cruwys tells us that Sir Walter Manny had 19 knights, 141 archers on horse and 74 archers on foot. Hugh Courtenay, Earl of Devon, had 8 esquires and 8 archers. Robert Cruwys may have been doing his military service as payment for the estate of Rackenford under Courtenay’s command. This information comes from an Elizabethan copy of the Calais Roll, which she describes as ‘the gem of the Cruwys Morchard collection’. It gives ‘names and armes of the Principall captaines as well of Noblemen as of Knightes that were with the victorious King Edwarde the thirde at the assiege of Callis the twenteth yeare of his regne which was in Anno Domini 1346.’ She says that John Cruwys of the Elizabethan era with the ‘fondness of nobility and gentry for everything relating to heraldry’ (Rowse. The England of Elizabeth) may have procured this copy.
The Calais Roll gives a list of the ‘battle’s magnificently stern array’. There are hand-painted shields, lists of wages, lists of the North and South Fleets, ports from which they were supplied, lists of servants, domestic and otherwise, including Queen Philippa’s butler, who no doubt provided for the Calais burghers after she had saved their lives. Outside the walls, when Queen Philippa ‘joined her lord at Calais she took with her a great company of ladies, and there was feast and revelry around those beleaguered walls’. The minstrels were: ‘trompetts 5, citolers 1, piperes 5, taberetts 1, clarons 2, makerers 1, fidelers 1, waytes 3.’
Sometime after this he quitted the wars; and being paid off, we may well suppose, Sir Robert Cruwys returned into his own country loaden with trophies of honour, and the military spoils of the declared enemies thereof:- whose rents also being carefully improved in his absence, at home, and his purse well filled by his services abroad, he became able to take off the incumbrances on his estate, and to pay his just and honest debts, under which he lay. And this he did, as I am told by the present heir of the family, in the church, or rather the church-porch, belonging to his parish soon after his arrival home. Wherein he shewed no less Christian policy, than integrity, in that no one can justly expect, that that estate should continue long in his posterity, or that God should ever bless it, which he possess by fraud or violence; and with the cries and curses of miserable orphans and widows, undone and ruined by his non-payment of his just and honest dues. But ‘tis not so here; for the estate of Crewis-Morchard hath continued ever since in his name and posterity, now twelve generations following: which we look upon as an argument of God’s particular favor, and that justice and honesty, which had hitherto been so conspicuous in this family.
If Isabella was already dead, it It must have been a bittersweet homecoming, with the Cruwys fortunes repaired by booty, Robert knighted, and the manor lands thriving again, but no wife to share his renewed prosperity.
Prince refers to Robert as ‘this young gentleman’, but at the time of the siege of Calais in 1346 he had already been lord of the manor for 15 years, and was probably the father of a growing family. We know only that Robert and Isabella had at least one son, Alexander.
Prince concludes his story of Robert’s exploits with speculation about his burial in Cruwys Morchard:
How long after this Sir Robert survived, I do not find, nor where he lieth interr’d; altho’ most probably, it is in an old chappel belonging to the house now wholly demolished. In which, that there were some funeral monuments heretofore may appear from some broken pieces of alabaster, that have heretofore been digged up there. As for the church, the old being wholly destroyed, and the present built but about the 20th K. Hen. 8, there are no vestiges or tracts found, of any antient monuments. And before the late flagration by lightning (which happened an. 1689, so dreadful, that it wrent the steeple, melted the bells, lead and glass, nothing escaped but the communion plate) there were only orates for some of the family, with coats of arms inting’d or painted on the glass.
Though Prince was unable to establish the date of Robert’s death, Margaret Cruwys places it in 1362, when his son Alexander succeeded him.
 A. W. Searley, “Haccombe, Part I, (1086-1330)”, Transactions of the Devonshire Association, 1918.
 .F.Johns, Crewes of South Cornwall and their ancestors in Liskeard, Cornwall, and Cruwys Morchard, Devon. p.11. WSL
 John Prince, Vicar of Berry-Pomeroy, The Worthies of Devon, c.1700.
 Johns, p.9
 Johns, pp.11-12.
 Margaret S. Cruwys, A Cruwys Morchard Notebook. 1066-1874. 1939.
 F.B. Prideaux, ‘Cruwys of Morchard and East Anstey’, Devon and Cornwall Notes and Queries, Vol 13, 1924-5, pp.134-137.
 George Oliver, Ecclesiastical Antiquities in Devon
 Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1972 ed. Vol. 11, p.844.
 Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1972 ed. Vol. 11, p.846.
 Records at Cruwys Morchard
 Records at Cruwys Morchard.
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