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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)


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JOHN WITHECOMBE was the son of Richard Withecombe and Margret Casleighe. He was born in the village of North Bovey on the edge of Dartmoor in 1605.

Baptism. North Bovey.
1605  Wethicom, John  s. of Richard.  May 4

This was the second year of the reign of the first Stuart monarch, James I. Six months later, the country was rocked by the Gunpowder Plot of the Fifth of November, which was intended to blow up the Royal Family and the Government at the state opening of Parliament.

John came in the middle of a large family, in which there were far more girls than boys. His father’s first wife had died the previous year, leaving at least four daughters and an infant son. John was the eldest child of the second marriage. He had three younger sisters and then a brother.

Long before his birth, a half-brother had died, but all of the next ten children seem to have survived. His widowed grandmother kept at least one servant. The evidence points to a family comfortably removed from poverty.


The name of John’s first wife was Susan. The marriage seems to have taken place outside North Bovey and we may assume that it was in Susan’s parish.


John and Susan had five children at intervals of two to three years.

Baptisms. North Bovey.
1632  Withicombe, John s. of John.  May 3
1634  Withycombe, Susanna  d. of John.  Dec 28
1637  Withecomb, Thomas  s. of John.  Apr 2
1639  Withecomb, Isett  d. of John.  May 26
1641  Withecombe, Joane  d. of John.  Dec 12

Susan died soon afterwards.

Burial. North Bovey.
1641(2)  Withecomb, Susan  w. of John.  Jan 24


In 1641-2, every man in the country over 18 had to take the Protestation of loyalty to the Protestant religion against “Popery”. In North Bovey, John Withecombe was the only one of that surname. His brother Nicholas must have died or moved elsewhere. There were 139 men listed in North Bovey. No one refused to take the Protestation oath.

The country was then plunged into Civil War. Most of Devon was for Parliament, but some of the more remote parishes around Dartmoor were Royalist. However, North Bovey may have sided with the nearby wool town of Moretonhampstead, which was strongly Parliamentarian. North Bovey’s rector does not appear to have been ejected from his living, as happened to High Church and Royalist clergy. Thomas Withecombe, whose relationship to John is uncertain, had a daughter in 1640 baptised Naomi. This Old Testament name may indicate that he, at least, was a Puritan. He died in 1643 and could have been a casualty of the war.

A major battle was fought near Bovey Tracey in 1645, when General Fairfax beat the Royalist army.


Unless another John Withcombe entered the parish, then John remarried sometime before 1651. Again, this marriage has not been found and probably took place outside North Bovey. A partly illegible burial record makes it possible that the name of his second wife may also have been Susan, though this is more likely to be his daughter-in-law.

Two children followed, both born during the Commonwealth period, when the country was ruled by Oliver Cromwell as Lord Protector, following the execution of Charles I.


Baptisms. North Bovey.
1650(1)  Withecombe, Richard  s. of John. Mar 7

On August 17 of that year, John, son of John Withicomb, was buried. He appears to be the oldest son of John’s first marriage, who was then aged 19.


Very few of North Bovey’s parish records have survived, but there are Poor Rate assessments for 1654 and 1661. These were made in April by the churchwardens and the Overseers of the Poor. In 1654 John Withicomb is the only one of that surname listed as a ratepayer. He was assessed at 1s 10d. Other householders’ rates range from 6s to 3d. John is about the middle of the rank order, based on the size of the rate to be paid.


Five years after Richard’s baptism, there is a second child called John, replacing the older boy who had died.

1656  Withecomb, John  s. of John.  Sep 21


It is possible that there were two men called John Withcombe, having families before and after the Civil War, but the evidence is consistent with this being the same man.


In 1660 the monarchy was restored under Charles II. Another rate assessment has survived for 1661. Neither John nor any other Withecombe appears on it. It may be that in April he was already too ill to make a contribution. He was buried in July, aged 56.

Burial. North Bovey
1661  Wethecomb, John.  Jul 4

There is a possible burial for his widow in a damaged entry for 1669

1669  Withicomb, Susan  w……   June 15

But their son Thomas married Susana Lawrie, and it seems more likely that this is her death, especially if it is for a wife, rather than a widow. There is another burial for Ann Whithycomb in 1687, but again this could be the wife of Thomas or of a younger John.






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