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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 FARRIER is believed to be the middle one of three children of David Farrier of Weare Giffard. It is possible that his father was Welsh, but by the time John was born he had moved from of Berrynarbor, near the North Devon coast, to Weare Giffard, a village on the banks of the River Torridge, 3 miles upstream from Bideford.[1]

We have no certain proof that David was John’s father. John’s baptism has not been found, because there is a long gap in the Weare Giffard baptismal register for the 17th century. But in the 1642 Protestation Return for Weare Giffard, David is the only Farrier, and the marriages of three other Farriers there in the 1670s leads us to suppose that they are his children.

John is believed to have been born between 1645-55, a date range calculated from the date of his marriage.

John was probably born after the Civil War, 1642-9. But he would have grown up in its aftermath. His father was a husbandman, and the small farm would have suffered depradations, first from Royalist troops quartered in the village, then from the victorious Parliamentarians. The last great battle of the first phase of the Civil War was fought at Torrington, only two miles away, in February 1646. There was minor fight in Weare Giffard, where Lord Wentworth had occupied Weare Hall, the manor house, with his Royalist cavalry. John would have seen how the Hall, next to the Church of the Holy Trinity, had had its outer defensive wall demolished, though the house itself and the gatehouse were left intact. The church had part of its Jesse Tree window shot away by Roundhead soldiers.

After the war, John grew up in a countryside left devastated and its people impoverished.

John’s father was a husbandman and younger John Farrier, who we presume to be his son, was a yeoman farmer. It is almost certain that John earned his living by farming, but we do not know whether this was on a small holding like his father’s or a larger one.


MARY ROBBINS was born 2 ½ miles away, in Littleham by Bideford. She was the daughter of Charles Robbins and Mary Ley. Mary was baptised on 10 Dec 1653.

She was the younger of two daughters. Her older sister died when Mary was 11.

Since she was married in Weare Giffard, we can assume she had moved there before then, probably to find work.


John and Mary married at the parish church of Holy Trinity on 21 June 1675, when Mary was 21. By now, the Stuart monarchy had been restored and Charles II had been on the throne for 15 years.


A Farrier family tree credits them with 6 children. Only three of these have been found in the Weare Giffard baptismal register, and two in the burial register.

John, baptised 7 Mar 1675/6, Weare Giffard. 
This John is said to have died the same year. His burial is not recorded in Weare Giffard.
John, born 1677-1686, Weare Giffard.
This is presumably the John Farrier who appears in the burial register as an adult.
Phinehas, born 1679-1695, Weare Giffard.
Phineas was buried in Weare Giffard on 16 Sep 1695, when he was still a boy.
Joan, baptised 10 May 1681, Weare Giffard.
Thomas, born 1683-1691, Weare Giffard.
Thomas does not appear in the Weare Giffard records, but there some years later there  is a solitary Farrier, Thomas, in the neighbouring parish of Littleham, where the children’s mother, Mary Ley, was born.
Richard, baptised 24 May 1686, Weare Giffard.


Mary died early, in 1698. She was 44.

Burial. Weare Giffard.
1698/9  Mary wife of John ffarrier  16 Mar.

The Fortescue family were lords of the manor of Weare Giffard. Their manor house was Weare Hall. They were also lords of the manor of Filleigh. In 1684, shortly before Richard was born Arthur Fortescue began to build a huge mansion on the site of Tudor manor house in Filleigh. Later, John and Mary’s son Richard moved the 12 miles to Filleigh. He married Margaret Squire there in 1711.

On 29 May 1712, Thomas Farrier married Margery Sergent in Littleham. Since he is the first Farrier in the Littleham register, and the only one raising a family there, it is not unreasonable to suppose he came from neighbouring Weare Gifford, and was John and Mary’s son. He was buried in Littleham on 20 May 1734.

John lived to see the end of the Stuart monarchy. The first Hanoverian king, George I, came to the throne in 1714.

John was buried in Weare Giffard in 1719.  He was probably around 69.

Burial. Weare Giffard.
1719  John Farrier  14 July

The following month, on 19 Aug, their daughter Joan married Rice Hopton at the parish church. Unfortunately she died the same year.


[1] Farrier family tree researched by David White.






Sampson Tree