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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)


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JOHN GALLEN was baptised on 12 June 1603 in Sandford, just north of Crediton,. The register is the earliest surviving for Sandford, and John’s is the sixth baptism entered. The first page is headed with an annnouncement that this is


‘The begynnyge of the raigne of our dread Soveraigne James King of greate Brittane ffrance and Ireland. Defender of the true Auncient Catholique and Apostoleke faith, wch was the xxiiijth day of March 1603.’


Three months earlier the last of the Tudor monarchs, Elizabeth I, had died. James, already James VI of Scotland, succeeded as James I of England. John was thus one of the first babies to be born in the Stuart era. He was the son of Nicholas and Anne Gallon.

Baptism. St Swithun’s, Sandford. (DCRS transcript)
1603  Gallen John s. of Nicholas Gallon. 12 June

Since we have no Sandford registers before 1603, John may have had older brothers and sisters, born in Elizabeth’s reign, but there is no evidence of any sisters marrying in Sandford or of brothers bringing up families there, so he may be an only child.


PASCHA ATKYNS. Her delightful and unusual name comes from ‘Pasch, meaning ‘Easter’, which itself derives from the Hebrew word pesakh for Passover.

Pascha’s baptism does not appear in the Sandford registers. John’s is one of the first in the earliest surviving register, which begins in 1603. If Pascha was only a little older than him, and born in Sandford, her baptism would be too early for this book. There are a few Atkins in the Sandford registers between 1613-39. Thomas Atkins was married there in 1611 and George Atkins in 1613. They could be her brothers. George had four children baptised in Sandford. But no Atkins burials have been found there in the first half of the 17th century, so her family may be from elsewhere. Many of the surrounding parishes have registers which begin later than Sandford’s, and so would not show Pascha’s baptism.

By the time of her marriage in 1623, Pascha was a resident of Sandford. Marriages usually took place in the bride’s parish, and if one of the couple was from another parish, this is stated in the register.

Under the Poor Law, everyone had a legal parish of settlement. If they fell on hard times and needed parish relief, this parish, and no other, was responsible for paying it. Settlement could be acquired in five main ways: birth in a parish if a bastard, having a father settled there, marrying a husband there, being hired as a covenant servant for a year there, being apprenticed there, or renting a house in the parish. One way or another, Pascha became a parishioner of Sandford.


Marriage. St Swithun’s Sandford. (DCRS transcript)
1623  Gallen John & Pascha Atkyns.  9 June


They had a large family, though only half the children survived.

Baptisms. St Swithun’s, Sandford. (DCRS transcripts)
1624  Gallen Elizabeth d of John Gallen.  12 September
1626(7)  Dorothy d. John Gallen.  11 Mar

Dorothy was buried on 1 July that year.

1628  John s. John Gallen & Pascha his w.  June 29
1630(1)  Katherine d John Gallen & Pascha his w.  Mar 6
1633  Robert s John Gallen & Pascha his w.  Dec 22
1636  Mort: Josiah & Rachell children John Gallen & Pascha w.  Sep 21

The twins, Josiah and Rachell, died at  birth, perhaps having been born prematurely. They were buried four days later.

1637  Agnes d John Gallen & Pascha w.   ffeb. 27
1639(40)  Thomas s. John Gallen & Pascha w.  in festo St Matthias (24 February)

Thomas was buried less than three weeks later, on 12 March.


By now events were galloping towards the Civil War. John would have been 39 when the fighting broke out in 1642. Devon was predominantly for Parliament, but the county was split, as were local communities, and even families. Cities and areas dependent on the wool trade usually sided with Parliament. Areas where arable or dairy farming were more important, such as the Vale of Exeter, were typically Royalist. This may have been true of Sandford, or it may have leaned towards Parliament, as did its more urban neighbour Crediton.

If the people of Sandford had Royalist sympathies, they must have been severely challenged by the events of 1643. In the 17th century, Crediton lay on the route of armies travelling to and from Cornwall. The previous October, 10,000 Royalist Cornishmen had marched into Devon under Sir Ralph Hopton. They occupied Tavistock, tried unsuccessfully to challenge Plymouth, and then settled down to besiege Exeter in a winter of heavy snow and ice. When they heard that a Roundhead army was advancing to relieve Exeter, the Cornishmen were forced to retreat. They left in an ugly mood.


On New Year’s Day 1643 the Cornishmen abandoned their positions before Exeter and trudged back along the snow-filled lanes to Crediton. They were angered by their reverse, and determined to revenge themselves on the inhabitants of Crediton, whom they suspected of favouring the Parliamentary cause. As the ragged Cornish troops passed through the town, they embarked on an orgy of plunder, breaking into houses, and carrying off everything they could lay their hands on. Many of the townsfolk were ruined as a result. Letters reported that Crediton had been ‘miserably pillaged by the beggarly Cavaliers’, who ‘took away the poor people’s weaving tools’.

Devon and the Civil War. Mark Stoyle.


Sandford is only two miles from Crediton, and some of its farms even nearer.


In May that year, the tide of war swung again. Following a resounding victory in Cornwall, the Royalist army marched back through Crediton, bound for Somerset.

Hopton passed out of Devon altogether, leaving something of a power vacuum behind him. Most of the major towns (Exeter, Plymouth, Dartmouth, Barnstaple and Bideford) were still held for Parliament, as were North Devon and the South Hams. In Central and East Devon, however – the districts in which popular support for the King was strongest – it was the Royalists who were in control. Having summoned the militia regiments from these areas, and gathered together as many volunteers as they could, the king’s local commanders now began a blockade of Exeter.

Over the next three months Devon was riven in two as the rival factions struggled to gain control. Broadly speaking this struggle was waged between the local partisans of King and Parliament. Admittedly, both sides received a certain amount of help from outside the county. Several Royalist regiments were sent back to Devon by Hopton, for example, while the Parliamentary navy brought help to Plymouth and Dartmouth and even attempted to raise the siege of Exeter. By and large though, it was the Devon gentry who directed the conflict during Summer 1643 and the Devon countrymen who supplied the majority of the soldiers.


By the summer of 1644, Parliament was on the offensive in the South West. The Earl of Essex led his army through Crediton en route for Cornwall. But close on his heels came the King himself. Charles stopped at Exeter, where his daughter had just been born, then reviewed Prince Maurice’s troops at Crediton.

Essex was defeated in Cornwall, but the following year came the crushing victory of Fairfax and Cromwell over the Royalists at Naseby. The Parliamentary commanders drove westwards in the late summer of 1645. Fairfax was given the task of relieving the cities and towns of Devon. He was in the middle of a council of war in Crediton in October, when “Lieutenant-General Cromwell happily came in”, bringing much needed reinforcements.

In the subsequent fighting, houses from country mansions to cottages were damaged, sheep were looted, woollen merchants and shopkeepers lost large stocks of goods.

Particularly bitterly remembered were the Cavalier horsemen of Lord Goring. Thousands of them had been driven out of Somerset in July 1945 and they committed terrible depredations in Devon. A century later they were still remembered with abhorrence. The term ‘a Goring’s Crew’ was used to mean a drunken, disorderly rabble.

The Crediton area saw the preliminaries to the Royalist defeat at the Battle of Bovey Tracey at the beginning of 1646.


Thursday Jan. 8. All things being prepared in readiness for a March, the Horse and Foot (with their Ammunition on horse-back) set forward to Crediton; and at the same time, Sir Hardresse Waller with two Regiments marched from Crediton to Bow, as if the Army had bent towards Okehampton, (where the Enemy had both horse and foot) when as indeed, it was only to amuse them; For at the same instant, a Bridgade of horse and foot marched that night to Crediton, and the next day (though very cold, and much snow upon the ground) the same Brigade marched to Bovey-Tracy (then the Enemies quarters) Liet.general Cromwel going in person with them, who about six at night fell into their quarters at Bovey, (where part of the Lord Wentworths Brigade then lay), took about 400 Horse, seven colours, one of them the Kings colours, with a crown and C.R. upon it.

Joshua Sprigge, England’s Recovery (Anglia Rediviva), being the history…. of the army under the immediate conduct of H.E. Sr. Thomas Fairfax, Kt, Captain-General, 1647.


Fairfax won a final battle at Torrington in February 1946. In April Exeter surrendered and Cromwell rode into the city. By May the war was over in Devon.

Pascha only lived to see a few months of peace.

Burial. St Swithun’s, Sandford. (DCRS transcript)
1646  Pascha w. John Galling.  Aug 14


John’s burial has not been certainly found. He seems to have survived the war and outlived Pascha, since she is described in the burial register as his wife, not his widow. He had been born under James I, but he was now a citizen of a republican Commonwealth.

There is a burial for John Gallen Senior on 29 Sep 1688, when this John, husband of Pascha, would have been 85. But by that time his elder son John had an adult son of his own, also named John, and this burial seems more likely to be his.






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