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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)



JOHN COCKRAM may have been born in Sandford, just north of Crediton, before the beginning of the earliest register in 1603. But since there are no records of Cockrams there until John’s marriage in 1628, and he then appears to be the only man of that name raising a family in the parish, it is very likely he came from elsewhere. Many of the parishes around Sandford do not have registers going back that early, so we shall probably not be able to trace his parents. In 1613, in the neighbouring parish of Upton Hellions, Henry Cokeram signed a note of the Parsonage and Glebe Land as sidesman. He could just possibly be John’s father.

At least two of John’s grandsons were serge weavers. This may have been John’s occupation.


SIBLIE LANE comes from a well-established Sandford family. Her baptism is recorded in the first year of the earliest Sandford register.

Baptism. St Swithin’s, Sandford
1603  Lane, Sibly  d. Thomas Lane  5 June

This was less than three months after the death of Elizabeth I and the accession of James Stuart, who united the thrones of England and Scotland as King James I and VI.

Since Siblie’s baptism is so early in the register, it is likely she had older brothers and sisters whose baptisms do not appear in it. Before Siblie’s wedding in 1628 there are marriages for Margaret, Elizabeth, Walter, Richard, Agnes (2), Richaurd (f), Robert and Joane Lane. Any of these could be her siblings. In particular, there is an assignment dated 1627 of a lease for three lives, from John Davie, the principal landowner, ‘of 2 messuages at the Shutt in Sandford town’ to Richard, son of Thomas Lane deceased.

There were a number of other Lanes in Sandford. Besides Siblie’s father, Robert and John Lane were raising families at the same time, followed in the next decade by Henry and possibly another John. It is not even certain how many Thomas Lanes there were. At least two were using Sandford church.

Burial. St Swithin’s, Sandford.
1605(6)  A man child unbaptized wch was the sonne of Thomas Lane of Storage.  Jan 22

Baptism. St Swithin’s Sandford
1606  ?Lane, Richard  s. of Thomas Lane of Stocklye.  28 Dec.

The latter almost certainly came from the neighbouring parish of Stockleigh English. He is unlikely to be Siblie’s father. For Poor Law purposes it was necessary to identify a child’s parish of origin, and there is no indication at her baptism that Siblie was from Stockleigh.

The other, Thomas Lane of Storage, or Sturridge, had a farm half a mile north of Sandford village, on the road to Kennerleigh. He may be Siblie’s father, or the name of his farm may have been given to distinguish him from another Thomas.

Thomas Lane of Storage died in 1608. There are no further baptisms for children of Thomas Lane after that. But there are two more burials, both recorded as simply ‘Thomas Lane’, in 1614 and 1625. Any of these three could be Siblie’s father.

Joane Lane, wydow, died in 1614. She could be the wife of Thomas Lane of Storage, or of another Lane, such as Richard who died in 1611. Margery, wife of Thomas Lane, died in 1621. It is likely that she was married to the Thomas who died in 1625. Either of these is a possible candidate for Siblie’s mother.

The Lanes appear to be an extended family of some standing in the community. We have the baptism of a child of John Lane of West Henstill in 1614. In 1623 there is the burial of Anstice, wife of John Lanne of Borage, now Burridge.

In 1620 and 1625 John Lane is churchwarden, and able to sign his own name. So is Roger Lane, churchwarden in 1628, and Robert Lane in 1629 and 1630. In 1643, after the start of the Civil War, John Lane of Yeolland is buried. There is reason to think he may be Siblie’s brother. By 1650 we start to get references to Mr Richard Lane, and in 1655 to Mr Symon Lane.

The overall impression is of an extended family, farming a number of properties, all in the northern half of the parish. The leading men, at least, are literate, and some eventually move from being yeoman farmers to gentry. This does not necessarily mean that every branch of the family shared the same status.


Sandford was certainly a good place in which to farm. James Ford, writing in 1851, says “it is quite a treat, coming from the barren regions of the North Devon, to gaze upon the verdure and luxuriant fertility that everywhere meets the eye. The soil in this neighbourhood is red which is, I understand, a characteristic of its goodness.

Mate’s Illustrated Devon, 1906, goes further. “Sandford is a sweetly pretty village in the valley of the Creedy … It is considered the most fertile Parish in Devon.

The geologist F.G. Collins agreed. He said in 1909: “Corn could almost grow in the roads.” He explained that the detritus of volcanic rock had weathered into a most productive material, matching the lava from Vesuvius.

We cannot be sure whether Siblie grew up on such a fertile farm, but it seems probable. The other main occupation of Sandford was weaving the serges for which Devon was famous. If she was the daughter of Thomas Lane of Storage, her father died when she was five. We do not we know what happened to her after his loss.

The next we hear of her is her marriage to John in 1628, at the age of 25.


Marriage. St Swithin’s, Sandford.
1628  Cockram, John & Siblie Lane  28 Oct


They had eleven children, but only six of them lived to be adults. The first died at birth.

Baptisms. St Swithin’s, Sandford.
1629   Mort.  Thomsin d John Cockram & Siblie his wife.  June 29
The note ‘Mort’ in the margin seems to indicate that the baby was baptised immediately she was born and died soon after, or may even have been baptised in the womb during a difficult birth. But no burial has been found for this infant, and there is a burial for a daughter Thomasine more than seven years later, whose baptism does not appear elsewhere, but it is safer to assume a stillbirth or neo-natal death. Their second baby also died.

Baptism. St Swithin’s, Sandford.
1630  John s. John Cockram & Siblie his wife.  Nov 21
This child lived just over a year. He was buried on 16 Jan 1632

In the old calendar, this death would have fallen within 1631, since the year ended on March 25. That year, John Cockram signed the parish register as churchwarden. He was able to make his signature in his own handwriting and was therefore literate. Sandford does not appear to be one of those parishes where all the ratepayers took turns at the office of churchwarden. John evidently commanded some respect with his fellow parishioners to be elected. The churchwardens are only sometimes recorded, so John may have performed this office in other years as well.

For the two previous years one of the churchwardens was Robert Lane, a relative, perhaps a brother, of Siblie.

They did succeed in raising a family, but not without more heartache.

1632  Thomas s. John Cockerham & Siblie his wife.  July 29
1633 (4) John s. John Cockerham & Siblie his wife.  Feb 2
1635(6)  Walter s. John Cockerham & Siblie his w.  ffeb 2

There was probably a second Thomasine, whose baptism has not been found, unless it was that first infant. She was buried on 16 Mar 1636(7). The following year, a third daughter of that name was born.

1637(8)  Thomasine d. John Cockerham & Siblie wife.  ffeb 13

The determination to have a daughter called Thomasine may mean that it was the name of John’s mother.

1640(1)  Christopher s. John Cockerham & Siblie wife.  ffeb 2

There is a burial on 20 Jan 1641(2) of Margery, daughter of John Cockeram. Her baptism has not been found either.

1641(2)  Elizabeth d. John Cockerham & Siblie w.  Jan 26

Elizabeth lived less than a month, and was buried on 20 February.

This was the year when every man in country over 16 was required to take the Protestation Oath of loyalty to the Protestant religion. Those who refused to do so, usually Catholics, were labelled ‘recusants’. In Sandford, John Cockerham took the oath, along with six men of the Lane family: three Johns, Nathaniel, Robert senior and William.

That year, the Civil War broke out. Sandford probably fell within that band of wool-producing and weaving parishes which sided with Cromwell’s Parliamentarians, but communities and even families were split, with loyalties divided between King and Parliament.

1643  Sybell  d. John Cockreham.  Apr 9.

In this year the neighbouring town of Crediton suffered grievously when Cavaliers pillaged it and ‘took away the poor people’s weaving tools’. If John was a weaver himself, he would have felt that keenly.

In the same year, John Lane of Yeolland, probably Siblie’s brother, died. We do not know if his death had anything to do with the war.

John Cockram survived.

In 1652, Elizabeth Lane, widow of John Lane of Yeolland in Sandford, and previously of Mark Way of Stockleigh English, left a small bequest to the Cockerham’s daughters, Sybly and Thomazine. No relationship is stated, but a reasonable guess is that they were her nieces by marriage. It was part of an extremely lengthy will, which included the large sum of £40 for her funeral, as well as 20s ‘To Mr Beckett, to preach my funeral sermon’, and 10s ‘To Mr Hopkins of Stockley to permit Mr Beckett to preach.’ Elizabeth Lane appears to be a wealthy widow, with a long list of bequests, though it is uncertain how much of her wealth derived from either of her husbands or from her own family. The funeral expenses were ‘to be taken from my goods at Yeoland’. Since John Lane of Yeolland was buried in 1643, this appears to have been his property. It is therefore somewhat ironic that his estate should have paid for her funeral, since she left orders that she was to be buried, not in Sandford with him, but  ‘in the church yard of Stockley English near my late husband Mark Way his tomb’. Her will confirms the impression that the Lanes were a family of some standing with at least moderate wealth.


John Cockeram died in 1655, while Cromwell was still ruling the country as Lord Protector. He was buried on Christmas Day. This may seem strange, but the Puritan laws forbade any special celebrations for that day.

Burial. St Swithin’s, Sandford.
1655  John Cockeram  Dec 25

We do not know John’s birth date, but if, as was usual, he was of a similar age to his wife, then he would have been about 52.

It is eleven years later, in the year of the Great Fire of London, that the family next appears in the Sandford registers.

Burial. St Swithin’s, Sandford.
1666  Sibill  d. Sibill Cockerham wid.  May 3

This was their youngest child, aged 23, and unmarried. The fact that this young woman is still recorded as Siblie’s daughter suggests that she and her mother were living together in Sandford.

Siblie was still in Sandford in 1674. The Hearth Tax for that year shows that she paid tax on three hearths, which was an average figure for the parish, if we exclude the stately homes of men like Sir John Davy, Bart, with 20 hearths.

Some of her sons remained in Sandford to raise their own families. But some time in the next two years, the widowed Siblie apparently moved a few miles south to join her married daughter and son-in-law, Thamzin and Thomas Hill, in Colebrooke. Perhaps they looked after her in her last illness. She died ten years after the death of her youngest daughter.

Burial. St Andrew’s, Colebrooke.
1676  Sabella Cockram  buried ye 20th of December.

She was 73.




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