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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



PETER STONEMAN. We have not found Peter’s baptism. We should expect it to have been around 1630. The Chulmleigh parish registers only go back to 1634.

In the 1641 Protestation Return for Chulmleigh , Peter Stoneman is the only man of that surname  . Either the Peter Stoneman who married in 1656 was over 18 then, or this was his father. The date of his marriage makes latter more likely.


The next evidence of Stonemans in Chulmleigh is the will of Mary Stoneman, widow, in 1649. We have not found her burial. Peter and Agnes named two of their children Mary and Peter. Given the strong naming family naming pattern in Devon, it is highly probable that the oldest Peter and Mary are the parents of the second Peter.

We do not have firm evidence of siblings, but we have the baptisms for children of John Stoneman in 1659 and 1661. John may be Peter’s brother.


Peter was probably approaching his teens when the Civil War broke out in 1642. His father died sometime during the war and may have been killed in the fighting. Chulmleigh, like most wool towns, was strongly Parliamentarian.

There was also a strong Puritan element in Chulmleigh, but given the lack of Old Testament names, the Stonemans do not appear to have been among the most fervent.

Throughout the Civil War, armies of either side crisscrossed Devon, attacking or retreating. Depending on whether or not his father was already dead, young Peter was doubtless excited by these troop movement. Royalists and Parliamentarians clashed in a minor skirmish at Chulmleigh in 1645. The following year, General Fairfax’s Parliamentary army camped in Chulmleigh on its way to the Battle of Torrington, which virtually ended the war in the south-west.

His mother died either shortly before the end of the war, or soon after Charles I’s execution in January 1649. Her will was proved that year.

Peter was probably orphaned before he reached the age of majority at 21.



AGNES FENNER. There are no Fenners in the Protestation Return for Chulmleigh, but there are four Venners, an alternative spelling of the name. This is a high number of adult males for a small town. It probably indicates an extended family that had been in Chulmleigh for some time.

They are: Humphrey, James, Robert and Thomas. One of them may be Agnes’s father.

As with Peter, Agnes was probably born just too early for the Chulmleigh registers. There are no records of Fenner baptisms in Chulmleigh until 1681.

There are two marriages in Chulmleigh in, for Margaret Fenner and Robert Fenner. This is not long after Agnes’s own wedding. They are probably her siblings or cousins.

In the parish register, the spelling is usually Fenner. Humphrey Fenner was buried in 1654 and Robert in 1659. There is also a burial in 1659 for Margaret, wife of Thomas Fenner. We cannot say if any of these are Agnes’s parents.

Like Peter, Agnes would have spent her early adult years under the Republican Commonwealth of Oliver Cromwell.


 Marriage. Chulmleigh
1655/6 Jan 18  Peter Stoneman and Agnes Fenner were married by Justice Wood.

During the Commonwealth period, marriages were civil ceremonies.


We know of four baptisms at the parish church. They spanned the end of the Commonwealth and the early years of the Restoration under Charles II.

St Mary Magdalene, Chulmleigh
Anglo-Norman carving [1]


Baptisms. St Mary Magdalene, Chulmleigh
1657 borne Mar 21 bapt Apr 12  Mary
1658 Jan 30  Peter
1661 Jun 9  Jone
1665 Sep 12  Richard


We do not know Peter’s occupation. If he was engaged in the woollen trade, on which Chumleigh’s prosperity was founded, then he may have begun to feel the effect of declining business in the 17th century. Other trades would also have suffered from the reduced sales, as would sheep farmers in the surrounding countryside. There are several later records which point to other Stonemans being farmers.

Peter’s will was proved in 1676. He was probably only in his forties. We do not have his burial.

We have no record of Agnes Stoneman’s burial. There is a marriage in neighbouring Eggesford on 29 Nov 1680 between Peter Parsmoor of Chulmleigh and Agnes Stonman of Chulmleigh. This could well be a remarriage for Peter Stoneman’s widow. Peter Passmore had married Amie Hernaman in 1654, shortly before Agnes’s marriage. His wife died in 1657. No burial has been found for Agnes Passmore.


[1] https://www.britainexpress.com/images/attractions/editor/Chulmleigh-5508.jpg




Sampson Tree