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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)

Sampson  Tree



JOHN DUNN. Little is known about John Dunn (de Dunne, de Duyn). He is mostly mentioned in documents relating to his wife.

He is thought to have been born in the East Devon village of Halberton, just east of Tiverton, around 1294. Edward I was then on the throne.           

We do not know his parents’ names.

He does not seem to have been lord of the manor of Halberton. This was brought to the family when his grandson Henry Burton married Alice de Boys.


ELEANOR KNOVILL. We know considerably more about Eleanor, thanks to her mother’s Inquest Post Mortem and other documents relating to her estates.

Eleanor was the daughter of John de Knovill and his wife Alice Wallis. She was the second of three daughters. In the absence of a brother, she and her sisters Cecily and Amy were joint heirs of their parents’ estates.

She is thought to have been born in 1299.

The family home was the March of Wales. This was the border area, where the descendants of Norman lords kept an uneasy frontier against the hostile Welsh.

Among her mother’s estates was Redwick, in Monmouthshire, across the Bristol Channel from Avonmouth. Her father is thought to have been born in Chepstow, on the River Wye.

St Thomas, Redwick, and the Bristol Channel[1]

Eleanor’s father died young, in or before 1317.

Both John and Eleanor came to adulthood in the difficult period of the early 14th century. This was the time known as the Great Famine. Torrential rains in late 1314 were followed by a very cold winter. More heavy rain the following spring led to the death of many sheep and cattle. The terrible weather went on until 1321, leading to a succession of bad harvests. Exports of wool, which were important to Devon’s revenues, dropped dramatically.

John and Eleanor married in the 1320s, after Edward II had come to the throne.

They had at least two, possibly three children, a daughter Isabell, a son John and possibly a second daughter.

In 1329 a writ was taken to prove that the sisters Cecily, Eleanor and Amy had come of age and could take possession of their father’s estates. By then, all three were married.

The following year, John de Knovill’s estates were divided into three equal parts and given to the husbands of his daughters, John de Dunne, Thomas le Ercedekne, and Peter Achard,

We do not have a certain death date for John Dunn, but it may have been in the 1330s. His heir was his only known son, John.

There are family trees that have Eleanor then marrying Guy St Aubyn in Cornwall, but that Eleanor de Knovill is said to be of a Cornish family, whereas we know from her mother’s IPM that the family of John Dunn’s wife were from the Welsh Marches.

In 1354 an inquest was held into the lands of Eleanor’s mother, Alice, late the wife of John de Knovill.  Redwyk in Magor (Redwick) was divided into three portions. One third went to John Dun, son of Eleanor, daughter and another heir of the said John (Knovill).

Alice had died on 10 July 20 Edward III (1346)

Eleanor is thought to have died some twenty years later in 1368, aged 69.


[1] Let’s Go For a Walk: Redwick and the Levels/South Wales Argus




Sampson Tree