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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)



ROBERT BROOKE. Since Robert’s first child was baptised in 1679 we should expect a birth date for him in the 1650s, in the Commonwealth period following the Civil War.

His baptism has not been found in Winkleigh, where he raised his family.  There is a baptism in Hatherleigh, seven miles away for Robert, son of Sammuell Brooke on 1 Feb 1659/60, but this would make him rather younger than expected when he married.

The Brookes appear only occasionally in the early Winkleigh registers. Alce Broke married there in 1575. Richard Brocke fathered Maria in 1592, Edmund in 1597 and Haniball in 1597. He or another Richard Brocke married Redigund Tawton in 1607. There are marriages for Johan Brocke in 1635, Marran Brocke in 1636, Abigall, daughter of Michaell Brooke of Winkleigh in 1654, and Johan Brocke of Winkleigh in 1655. No Brooke burials are recorded in this period. Perhaps those that were parishioners of Winkleigh lived on the edge of the parish and found a neighbouring church more convenient.

The 1641 Protestation Return for Winkleigh shows John Brocke and Marshall Brooke. One of these could be Robert’s father or grandfather, though he did not use either of these names for his sons.

The 1674 Hearth Tax Return for Winkleigh shows only one Brooke. Agnes Brook was taxed for 2 hearths. It is possible that she was Robert’s widowed mother. There are also several illegible entries.


SUSANNA GERDIN.  She appears in the marriage register as Suzana Gerdin. No other examples of this surname have been found, though there are many variations of Gordon. None of them offers a plausible baptism for Suzana. She was probably born in a parish whose 17th-century registers have not survived.


The couple married at All Saints, Winkleigh, on 23 Oct 1677.

Winkleigh is a small market town on a hilltop between the rivers Taw and Torridge, north of Dartmoor.

Winkleigh [1]


Here the couple set up home. They had six children.

Baptisms. All Saints, Winkleigh
1678(9)  Robert son of Robert Bruke 16 Mar
1681  Mary  29 May

1684(5)  Suzanna  11 Mar
1687(8)  Jone  8 Jan
1690  Richard  15 June
Jone was buried on 11 December 1700, just before she was three. Two weeks later, nine-year-old Mary was buried on Christmas Eve.
1692  Grace 19 June

When their eldest son married in 1706 he was a day-labourer. It is therefore probable that this was Robert’s occupation too. He would have been paid less in winter than in summer, when the working day was longer, with the highest daily rate at harvest-time.

“The labourers who lived out occupied little cob-walled cottages. These would have been built by the farmer or the landlord in the cheapest possible way, and they have all perished completely long ago. What we call an “olde-worlde” cottage today, even if it is genuine, was not a cottage at that time. It would have been the home of a husbandman or small farmer. We simply do not know what kind of house the labourer’s cottage was. No genuine cottages survive in Devon older than about 1700. It is very likely, however, that these cob cottages had only two small rooms open to the rafters. There was no upstairs, but one end of the cottage may have been boarded over so as to make a kind of loft, reached by means of a ladder, and up there some of the children would have slept and the family would have kept its odds and ends.
   The best we can say about such cottages is that they were probably warm in winter. The thick cob walls would have retained the heat from the single fireplace, but the windows were very small and living conditions must have been as unhealthy as they could be. Labouring families could only have survived these conditions because they spent all their waking hours out of doors. Even so, the death-rate among small children must have been high, and the labourer himself, and his wife, were often crippled by rheumatism before they were forty, through living in a damp cottage and working in all weathers.”

W.G. Hoskins. Devon and Its People.


While the Brookes were raising their family, Sir Bartholomew Gidley, the principal local landowner, founded an almshouse for four poor widows in 1681. “It had no endowment except for the upkeep of a small piece of land for growing and keeping it in repair of £4.” [2]

Former Almshouses. [3]


Suzana died in 1705, probably aged around 50.

Burial. All Saints, Winkleigh
1705 Dec 10. Susanna wife of Robert Brook.

Only one burial has been found in Winkleigh for Robert Brook, so we cannot be sure whether this was Suzana’s husband, who would have been around 70, or their eldest son.

Burial. All Saints, Winkleigh
1728 Apr 27  Robert Brook.


[1] Jackie Freeman Photography. http://jackiefreemanphotography.com/images/Village_View_Web_Crop_Good.jpg
[2] Winkleigh Village History. http://www.jackiefreemanphotography.com/winkleigh_devon_page2.htm
[3] Winkleigh Village History. http://www.jackiefreemanphotography.com/images/Winkleigh_Almshouses_000.jpg




Sampson Tree