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)
JOHN SAMPSON first appears in the Winkleigh registers at his marriage in 1677. The parish registers go back to 1535, and there are no Sampsons recorded there before John. He was probably born in another North Devon parish in the mid-17th century, either during the Civil War or shortly afterwards, under Oliver Cromwell’s Commonwealth.
His baptism has not yet been found in any of the surrounding parishes. The most promising family of Sampsons is in the neighbouring village of Broadwoodkelly, about 2 miles SW. There are intermittent records there from 1609, which include the baptisms of Edmond , son of Edmond Sampson , in 1615, and George, son of Edmond Sampson, in 1620. Edmond senior died in 1626.
There is then a gap in the baptismal register from 1635-54. This includes the period around 1650 when we would expect John to be born. When the register recommences, there are baptisms for three children of Edmond Sampson, presumably the one born in 1615: Edmond 1655, Richard 1657, and Sarah 1660. It is likely there were more children born before them. From the late 1660s there are children for William Sampson, and in 1678 for Robert Sampson. Both of these could be older sons of Edmond, and it is possible that John was, too.
The fact that John named his second son Edmond strengthens the likelihood that this is the right family. There are other parishes in the area whose records do not go back that far, but as yet the best concentration of Sampson names seems to be in Broadwoodkelly.
John moved to Winkleigh. Since he not only married, but raised his family there, we may presume he was already working in Winkleigh by 1677. At the time of his wife’s death he was a day-labourer, and this was probably his occupation throughout his life.
Edmond Sampson died in 1675. There is no firm evidence for John’s mother’s name. In 1679 there was a burial in Broadwoodkelly for ffrancis Sampson. Despite the spelling, this could be female, though the register does not say that it was a widow.
Winkleigh lies on high ground north of Dartmoor, between Hatherleigh and Chulmleigh.
W.G. Hoskins describes it as ‘an ancient village on a lofty hill. It was one of the nucleated villages founded in the early days of the Saxon occupation of Devon, and gave its name to a hundred.
‘Court Castle seems to have been a small Norman castle-site. At the SW end of Castle Street is a smaller mount known as Croft Castle, which probably served a similar purpose. The buildings may have been fortified manor houses rather than true castles.
>‘Winkleigh had the only park recorded in the Devon Domesday. It also had a 500-acre wood of which the present Winkleigh Wood is probably a remnant.
‘At some unknown date, Winkleigh acquired a fair and a market and became one of the numerous seignorial boroughs of Devon. Its borough court sat until 1848. The hamlet of Hollocombe, 2½ m. N., also had a medieval market and fair.
‘Winkleigh remained an important local centre for its remote district until late Victorian times.’
( W.G. Hoskins, Devon )
GRACE PADDON ’s baptism has not been found in Winkleigh either. The most promising parish found for her so far is Ashreigney, three miles north of Winkleigh. Grace was married in 1677, so we should expect a birth date around 1652. The Ashreigney registers begin at 1654, probably just too late for Grace’s baptism. There are no Paddon baptisms in the first twelve years, but in 1666, Caleb Paddon married and began to raise his family, and the following year, Jone Paddon married there. Caleb named one of his daughters Grace. Two of Grace Paddon’s babies were named Caleb. Caleb is an unusual name, and the similarity of naming suggests a family relationship. Caleb and Jone may be Grace’s brother and sister.
There are no clues to Caleb’s father, but in 1674 Thomazin Paddon , widow, was buried in Ashreigney. She may be his mother, and Grace’s, too.
Since Grace married a decade after Caleb and Jone, and there were no baptisms after 1654, Grace, if she was their sister, was probably one of the youngest in the family.
At some point she moved to Winkleigh. There are several branches of the Paddon family there, going back to the earliest records in Elizabethan times. John Paddon was a farmer who died in 1657, when Grace was a small child. His will records his house, crops, livestock and implements.
His house was a very simple one with a hall and parlour on the ground floor and three bedrooms above. There may also have been an ‘entry’ and a buttery… In the hall was a long table and a form to sit on, a little cupboard, a couple of chairs and some stools, and some pewter pots and pans. Apart from the fire-irons and the crocks in the open fireplace, this was all the furniture in the principal room. In the parlour, there was one bedstead with a feather bed and bolster and bedclothes. The only other furniture was a chair, a chest, and a truckle bedstead where perhaps the smallest child slept.
On the floor above, the three bedrooms were very sparsely furnished. The “hall chamber” had a bedstead with a feather bed, other little bedsteads for children, and a side-saddle and a bundle of wool. It looks as though John Paddon and his wife slept in the parlour, while the children occupied the “hall chamber”. The “parlour chamber” contained nothing but a bedstead and bedding, and the “men’s chamber” had two bedsteads with bedding. In the buttery, there was butter and cheese, and other foodstuffs, and there was also “victuals at the rooffe and in the salt”. In John Paddon’s house, some meat was hung up on the rafters and was cured by the smoke that was always hanging about in the room, and some had evidently been salted down in a great trough.
(W.G. Hoskins, Devon and Its People )
We do not know how Grace was related to the Paddons of Winkleigh. But it is quite possible that she went to work for a cousin or uncle there. Weddings usually take place in the bride’s parish, so it seems that she, as well as John Sampson, was working in Winkleigh before her marriage and it had become her parish of settlement.
Here, in the 15th century church of All Saints, with its richly carved wagon roof, John Sampson married Grace Paddon on 10 Oct 1677.
The baptisms of seven children are recorded, two of the boys dying young.
Baptisms. All Saints, Winkleigh.
1678 Grace 12 May
1679 Elizabeth 25 Jan
1681(2) John 8 Jan, buried 16 Jul 1696 when he was in his teens.
1683 Edmond 29 Dec
1685 Caleb 30 Nov. Buried 16 Nov 1690, aged 5.
1690 Richard 20 Oct
1692 Caleb 24 Jul
Their daughter Grace died when she was 24 and still unmarried.
Burials. All Saints, Winkleigh. (DCRS transcript)
1702 Samson, Grace, single woman. 11 Nov
The older Grace died four years later.
1706 Sampson, Grace w of John, day labourer. 8 Aprill
John is a common name in the Sampson family, but there is a burial which could be Grace’s husband.
1735 Sampson, John. 26 Feb.
If so, then he was probably in his eighties when he died.
NEXT GENERATION: 9. SAMPSON-BROOKE