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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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WILLIAM ASCOTE. The most likely parents for John Arscott of Drewteignton, who married in 1679, are William Ascote of Drewsteignton and Jone Pethybridge of Chagford.

William is probably the son of William Ascott and Joane Easterbrooke, who married in Drewsteignton in 1637. There is a gap in the Drewsteignton baptisms between 1632 and 1663.


JONE PETHYBRIDGE. Jone was unusual in marrying in her bridegroom’s parish of Drewsteignton, rather than in her own. She is said in the marriage register to be of Chagford.

Her baptism has not been found in Chagford, but there were a number of Pithebridges in the neighbouring parish of North Bovey. Joane the daughter of Mathew Pithebridge was baptised there on 11 December 1625. At nearly 30, this would make her rather old to be a bride in 1655, but it is not impossible.


They married in 1655, during the Commonwealth period following the execution of Charles I in 1649.

At this time, marriage was a civil affair, presided over by a registrar.

William and Jone’s entry in the marriage register reads as follows:


p[er] Simon weekes Regest of the p[ar]ish of Drewistenton in the County aforsaid haue p[ro]clamed the contract of marage betweene william ascote of Drewestenton in the said County and Jone pethybridge of Chagford in the same County three lords dayes Folowing at the Close of morning Excercise accordding to the late acte of p[ar]liment in that behalfe p[ro] vidid and there was noe Contradiction or deniall of the same and there upon were thy married by Rowland Whyddone Esqr and Justice of the peace within the said County the 3 of July in the yeare 1655

Signature of Rowland Whyddone

Witnesse to this marriage:

John Westcott [sign]
John Dicker


The marriage took place in Drewsteignton, and not in the bride’s parish of Chagford as was usual. We assume that the couple set up home there. But the Drewsteignton register shows no baptisms for their children.

Births were also the subject of civil registration in the Commonwealth period, and the records do not always survive. But Drewsteignton has a number of births for this period. The Ascotts are not among them.

They may have been using a different church, or they may have had no children.


In 1667 there is a marriage for Joan Arscott, servant to Will. Ponsford of Ford, both of this parish. But this Joan would probably be too old to have been born after 1655, though it is true that 12 was the minimum age for girls to be married.


William and Jone (or whoever John Arscott’s parents were) would have grown up during the Civil War of 1642-1651. Drewsteignton was one of a group of central Devon parishes which were fiercely Royalist. The parson at that time was Dr Anthony Short.

Like the puritan ministers, conservative clergymen attempted to influence the  political behavious of their parishioners. A fascinating description has survived of the way in which Anthony Short read out a Parliamentary declaration in 1642. According to the man who reported him Short recited this document in ‘a disdayneful manner’, descanting upon it at length. Thus when he came to the part of the text which mentioned the Lords and Commons assembled in Parliament, Short commented, ‘How many be then there, 14? I am sure there are not 40, and of all the Cornish burgesses which hath most of any county in the Kingdom, ther is but one.’ When he came to Parliament’s claims that ‘religion and liberty are already supprest’, Short ‘lifting up his hands and eies to the heaven, said, “O what damnable lies doe they divulge”’. When he came to claimes that royal agents had tried to kill Sir John Hotham, Short averred that they would have been fully justified in doing so. And when he read out the MP’s solemn declaration ‘that they propose to alter nothing in the church government … [without] having first had consultation with reverend and learned divines’, Short could not resist altering the last line to ‘reverend and cockscomblike divines’! Throughout the war Short did his utmost to whip up support for the King, and indeed, it was later claimed that he had gone so far as to threaten ‘damnation to the Parliaments partie’. Clearly puritan ministers did not have a monopoly on hellfire.

Mr Garnett, vicar of neighbouring Dunsford, was also implicated in a plot to organise pro-Royalist disturbances.


We read what followed in John Walker’s Sufferings of the Clergy.

After the war, High Church Royalist clergy were frequently ejected from their livings.

Anthony Short was required to answer “seuerall articles alleaged agaynst him by John Knapman

On 9 March 1646/7 an Order of the Standing Committee of Devon  required him to remove himself from the parsonage house.

He was replaced by the Presbyterian Richard Herring, who was evidently unwilling to pay the agreed compensation to Mrs Short for goods lost in the takeover.

On 31 Oct 1648 the same committee, on hearing the difference between Mrs Short and Mr Herring, the present incumbent at Drewsteignton, ordered that Herring pay “fifths” to Mrs Short. A further order, dated 30 Nov 1648, noted “Inasmuch as Richard Herring has not complied with the foregoing order, the profits of the living are to stand sequestered from him until the required sum be paid”.

Complaints were made by the parishioners of Drewsteignton against Herring, probably presented at the Restoration. On 17 Oct 1660 (the year of the Restoration of the monarchy), the Commissioners of the Peace declared that the complaints against Richard Herring had been proved. On 12 Jan 1660/1, Richard Herring wrote a letter to William Reede, “preacher of ye word, at his brother’s house in Exon” intimating his willingness to leave before Candlemas next, provided that he be allowed to take certain property with him.


It was not only Short who was ejected from the living at Drewsteignton. After the Restoration, Richard Herring, who had taken his place, was only protected from prosecution by the fact that he was an old college friend of the bishop. He was found to have instructed schoolboys in grammar, an illegal act after he had been evicted from his living. More crucially, he had failed to subscribe to the Act of Uniformity.

Some of the Puritans who were drafted in to fill Royalist vacancies were not sufficiently educated for their tasks. Clearly, Richard Herring was not among these. Someone like William Arscott may well have been taught grammar by him.


It was not only the parson who was a Royalist supporter. At the Restoration of the monarchy, soldiers who had been maimed fighting on the King’s side could petition for compensation. Drewsteignton is eighth highest on the list of Devon parishes for the number of petitioners as a proportion of the adult male population. The rate was 1:30. Chagford was next on the list with 1:32. William and Jone would have seen these men, who had been reduced to destitution by their injuries.






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