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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 COLMAN.  We have not found John’s baptism, which we would expect to be around 1572.

He married in Molland, but brought up his family in East Anstey. This was presumably his home before he was married.

East Anstey is a hill parish on the fringes of Exmoor, on the Devon-Somerset border. This was sheep-rearing country.

The East Anstey registers only go back to 1596, too late for John’s baptism.

There is reason to believe that he came from an East Anstey family. The Colmans first appear in the parish with John Colman in the 1545 Subsidy Roll.[1] There is reason to believe that he is John junior’s grandfather.

The 1569 Muster Roll was taken around the time of John’s birth.[2] There is one Colman on it. Henry Colman was one of the four presenters. Only two of the four are charged with making a special provision of arms. Henry Colman was not one of them. We assume from this that he was a leading parishioner, but not particularly wealthy.

In the next generation, John’s is the only Colman family in East Anstey. It is reasonable to assume that he is Henry Colman’s son.

Henry was buried in East Anstey in 1609. In 1613 we have the burial of Joane Colman widow. In the absence of any other male Colman in the parish, she is probably Henry’s wife and John’s mother.


CHRISTIAN HOPPER. The name is variously spelt as Hopper, Hoper, Hooper and Hoopper.

 Chrystyan, daughter of John Hopper, was baptised in the neighbouring parish of Molland on 14 Apr 1573. She was the second of four children.

There is a possibility that her mother’s name was Ellyn. After the four Molland baptisms there is one in North Molton for a child of John Hopper and his wife Ellyn. There are no other baptisms in North Molland for this couple, so this may be the same John Hopper who previously lived in Molland.

We have not found a burial for Ellyn Hopper in either parish.

Alternatively, some years after her father’s death, there is a burial in nearby North Molton for Christian Hopper, who could be the younger Christian’s mother.

Christian’s father was a yeoman farmer, and one of the most highly-rated taxpayers in Molland.


Marriage. Molland.
1597 Oct 27  John Colman and Christian Hoopper were joined together in matrimony.


They brought up their family in East Anstey, 5 miles away.

Baptisms. East Anstey.
1598 Jun 24  William
1599/1600 Mar 19  ?Joan
1601 Oct 29  Agnes
1603 Nov 20  John
1605/6 Feb 23  Alice
1607/8 Mar 22 Edward
1610/11 Mar 17  Mary
1613/4 Jan 14  Christian

For the first four baptisms the register records only the father’s name. Alice’s baptism is the first where Christian’s name is given too.

The years preceding John and Christian’s marriage had seen drastic laws enforced against Catholics, as the threats against Protestant Queen Elizabeth grew. There were fines for not attending a Church of England service.

The present church of St Michael bears little resemblance to the one the Colmans attended, following a major rebuilding in the 19th century. But the 15th– century tower remains, as does the yew tree beside it.

Four bells would have called them to worship. The oldest is inscribed: Voce mea viva depello cunta nociva. “With my lively voice I drive away all hurtful things.”

St Michael, East Anstey[3]

Christian senior was a widow when she was buried on 9 Dec 1640. John had evidently died by then, though we do not have his burial.

Christian did not live to see the Civil War of the 1640s, but she would have been aware of the pressures leading up to it. East Anstey was in a part of Devon intensely Parliamentarian. This was sheep-rearing country. England was famous for its woollen cloth and Devon was among the leading wool-producing counties. The cloth industry had made Tiverton, 10 miles south of East Anstey, the largest and most flourishing industrial town in Devon. King Charles’s foreign wars were seriously damaging the international trade in woollen goods. East Anstey’s fortunes depended on wool.

Burial. St Michael, East Anstey.
1640 Dec 9  Christian Colman vid (widow)

There are no Colmans in the 1641 Protestation Returns for East Anstey.[4] If their sons were still alive they appear to have left the village.


[1] Devon Lay Subsidy Rolls 1543-1545. ed. T.L. Stoate. https://www.westcountrybooks.com/
[2] The Devon Muster Roll for 1569. Ed.T.L. Stoate and A.J. Howard. https://www.westcountrybooks.com/
[3] https://ukga.org/images/devon/2670a.jpg
[4] https://digitalarchive.parliament.uk/HL/PO/JO/10/1/87/46





Sampson Tree