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)
FLORIDUS FLOYER and SABINA DUNSTANVILLE (26)
FLORIDUS FLOYER. There is some uncertainty about his name. John Burke’s pedigree of landed gentry tells us of: 
RICHARD, who obtained a confirmation of the lands beyond the Exe, held by his grandfather, from Robert, natural son of King Henry I upon the stipulation of presenting the said Robert and his heirs with a flaggon of wine, whenever they should come to dine on the Isle of Exe. This grant was afterwards confirmed, in more ample form by Reginald de Courtenay. The son and successor of this Richard,
FLOYER, was called FLORIDUS. He m. Sabina, daughter of Geoffry de Dunstanville, of Enscombe, in Devonshire, and had issue,
JOHN, his heir.
Roger, living in 41st Henry III [1256-7].
He died previously to his wife (who was living a widow in 48th Henry III [1263-4]) and was s. by his eldest son John.
Sir William Pole tells us the reason for this uncertainty over his name:
“It appeareth by two other deedes, yt the sonne of Richard, ye son of Nichol, the sonne of Rich. Floier, was called in on of them Floier, the sonne of Richard; & in the other Floridus, ye sonne of Richard.
Unfortunately, Pole does not give us the reference or dates for these deeds.
Floridus would appear to have lived his life in the 13th century, and was probably born near the beginning of it.
He grew up in the ancestral home of Floyers Hayes, on the west bank of the Exe, across the river from the city of Exeter. As the eldest son and heir, he inherited this from his father Richard.
This was close to the bridge across the Exe, a major route into Exeter from the west. This probably goes back to at least Roman times, since there was a Roman road going from the West Gate into western Devon. It was made of timber and was for pedestrians only. Carts and horses crossed by a ford at low tide. The river was wider and shallower than it is now, but the current swifter. When the river was in spate both bridge and ford would have been either dangerous or impassable.
The first stone bridge was probably begun about 1190. The moving spirits were the father and son Nicholas and Walter Gervase. A collection was made nationwide and land was purchased to provide funds for its repair. The width of the river made a much longer bridge necessary than the present one. Some of its arches can still be seen, as well as the ruins of St Edmund’s church which stood on it. There were houses on the bridge as well. It could now carry horses and wheeled vehicles.
No doubt Floridus’s father contributed to the building of the bridge. It would have been in the Floyers’ interests to have a reliable route into the city.
Floridus was probably in middle age in 1249 when a hermit shut herself up on the bridge, obstructing the traffic and causing damage to the city’s trade. The authorities showed remarkable patience. Complaints were made about her for at least five years. Perhaps they feared the hermit would curse them if they tried to remove her forcibly.
The land around Floyer’s Hayes was low lying and intersected by streams which powered mills. A mill is mentioned as being on the manor of Floyer’s Hayes in the time of Henry III [1207-1272], the lifetime of Floridus.
SABINA DUNSTANVILLE. Floridus is the first of the Floyers whose wife’s name we know. Pole tells us of another deed:
“And in on other deede, yt Sabina, yt was the wief of Floier over Ex, gave unto John her sonne & heire, her land in Ernscomb, and yt she was the daughter of Jeffery Dunstanvill, unto whom Willem de Toriton gave on hundred shillings land in the mannor of Ernscombe, wth all the men yt dwelt thereon.”
Sabina’s grandfather, Reginald de Dunstanville, was earl of Cornwall. In one version of the family pedigree he is the illegitimate son of Henry I and grandson of William the Conqueror, but this is probably not the case.
Ernscombe is known nowadays as Yarnscombe. It is in NW Devon, 5 miles from Torrington and 8 mile from Barnstaple.
The fact that Sabina was an heiress, bringing the Ernscombe lands to the Floyer family, probably means that she had no brother to inherit them.
The Floyers may been Anglo-Saxon thanes at the time of Domesday, but they were now marrying into the landed Norman gentry.
Unlike most of the earlier generations of the Floyers, we know the names of more children than the eldest son and heir.
Pole names three sons: John, Roger (living in 1256-7) and William. The dates show that these sons were born in the first half of the 13th century. There were probably daughters too, but we do not hear about them.
Burke tells us that Floridus died before Sabina, in or before 1263-4.
Sabina had inherited her father’s lands at Ernscombe. These she passed to their eldest son John.
Of their three sons, Sir William Pole says:
And anno 41 of Kinge Henry 3 [1256-7], Roger the sonne of Floier, gave unto Willem Floer iis of yearly rent out of the prebend.
John Floyer gave in mariage wth Ellen his daughter unto John, ye sonne of John Hereward, all his land in Ernscomb in frank mariage, and fortie shillings land, wch John Hereward had given in mariage with Fina his sister unto Willem Floyer his sonne. This deede is also wthout date.
I find Roger, sonne of Floer, gave land unto Willem sonne of Floer, anno 41 of Kinge Henry 3 [1256-7].
We do not know when Sabina died.
 John Burke, A Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Commoners of Great Britain and Ireland: Enjoying Terrestrial Possessions or High Official Rank; but Uninvested with Heritable Honours. Colburn 1833.
 Sir William Pole (d.1635), Collections Towards a Description of the County of Devon,(1791).
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