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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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Sandford, north of Crediton, has the reputation of being the most fertile parish in Devon. The Lane family there goes back at least to the first half of the 16th century. The Subsidy Rolls for 1524-7 list Sandford along with Crediton, because it did not then have its own parish church. There were three Lanes: Ralph, John and Robert. We cannot be sure whether they lived in Crediton or Sandford, but there is reason to believe that it was the latter.  Ralph was assessed at £3 in goods. John and Robert were poorer and of a lower social status, at £1 each in wages. None of them appear to be landowners.

In the 1543-5 Subsidy Rolls, ‘Sampford’ is listed seperately. Robert Lane is assessed at £4 and John Lane at £2.

Four years later, Thomas Lane appears on the scene:

Court of 4 October 1 Edward VI [1547-8]

West Sandford. Presented that Margaret Gallyn, widow, who held of the lord one tenement in West Sandford for the term of her life, according to the custom of the manor conjointly with Thomas Lane, died since the last court whereby there accrues to the lord as heriot one white sheep which delivered to the stock of Gilbert Gale farmer there, which belongs to him by tenor of his demise. And nothing presented in damage. And that the aforesaid tenement with the appurtenances remains to the aforesaid Thomas Lane by right of annexion and he is admitted tenant thereof and does fealty to the lord. They present Thomas Lane to the office of reeve there this year who is sworn well and faithfully to perform that office.

Sum of the Court 12d beyond the heriot delivered to the farmer.[1]

The heriot was a fee in kind paid to the owner of the property when the lease changed hands. It was usually the ‘best beast’.

The reeve was a manorial steward, charged with supervising the daily affairs of the manor. Thomas was thus a man of standing and responsibility. The lords of the manor were the Davies family of Creedy Park.

We do not know the relationship between Margaret Gallyn and Thomas Lane which led to their sharing the tenancy. It was common in Devon for property to be leased for the duration of three named lives. It is possible that the widow Margaret Gallyn was Thomas’s sister.

Thomas may also be an ancestor of Wilmot Hill, granddaughter of Siblie Lane, who married Gilbert Gallen in 1703, showing an ongoing relationship between these two families.[2]

The Sandford Lanes are probably related to the Lanes of Crediton.[3]

Stowford – Court of 4 October 1 Edward VI (1547-8)

Agnes Ley, widow, having died since the last court a heriot of one young bullock, worth 13s 4d accrues to the lord of the manor. Roger Lane is admitted for his life. John Hole sworn as reeve.

Sum of the Court is 13s 4d

Pruscombe (= Priestcombe) – Court Tuesday 4 October 1 Edward VI (1547-8)

Robert Lane presented to office of reeve and duly sworn.

Priestcombe is a farm between Crediton and Copplestone. It is located about 2 miles from the town, hidden away without any near neighbours. The house is thought to date from the 16th century and has some lovely period features including open fireplaces and baking ovens. Built of stone and cob under a reed-thatched roof. Unusually, the rooms have higher ceilings than others of its age. [4]

More than 30 years later, in 1581, we have Thomas Lane assessed at £4 in goods, John Lane at £3 goods, and Joan Lane, widow, at £1 for land. It is not certain whether this was the same Thomas or the next generation.

These early Lanes span a turbulent period in English history. Henry VIII broke from the Roman Catholic Church at the Reformation in 1534, the monasteries were dissolved and the English Bible introduced into churches. When the boy king Edward VI imposed more changes in the style of worship many Devonians joined the Prayer Book Rebellion of 1549 and besieged Exeter, until they were defeated in bloody battle at Clyst Honiton. The Devon rebellion began at Sampford Courtenay, only 12 miles west of Sandford. The reign of Mary I in the 1550s saw a swing back to Catholicism and the martyrdom of some Protestants. Under Elizabeth I Protestantism was again in the ascendancy. England was threatened by European rivals, particularly Spain, culminating in the defeat of the Armada in 1588.

During this century, Devon’s wool trade, including the Crediton area, flourished until laws had to be introduced to check over-production. Agricultural workers did less well, often losing their small stake in the land to make way for sheep, but the Lanes appeared to have done well in farming.


A Thomas Lane appears in the early registers as the father of Sibly, who was born in 1603.[5] She was probably the next to the youngest child in his family. A ‘man child of Thomas Lane of Storage’ was buried in January 1606. No further baptisms are recorded. Their father could have been the householder who was paying tax in 1581.

In the early 17th century, when Sibly Lane was born, the Lanes seem established as an extended family occupying a number of farms in the north of the parish. One married a wealthy widow and by the middle of the century two others were classed as gentry and known as ‘Mr’. The Lanes played a significant role as churchwardens, etc, and seem to have been of higher status than the Gallen family of Sandford, who were their contemporaries.

Robert Lane of Crediton was a tanner.

In a Court of Chancery of 1622 the defendants were Margery, Philip and Margaret Buckingham, mother, brother and sister-in-law respectively. Complainants – Robt Lane of Crediton and Joan his wife. The solution of the problem can only be guessed at:-

Case. In his last will Philip Buckingham has bequeathed daughter Joan land (about 60 acres) in Crediton of an annual value of £35 – during 3 years. Executrix was his wife Margery, mother of Joan. Overseers were Nicholas Ware and Robt. Buckingham, his son, now deceased. Soon afterwards Joan married Robert Lane. Robert did not know the value of the land. Margery paid him £20 and used the rest herself with Margaret, widow of her son Robert, and her son Philip. When Robert Lane got to know that he should have received £35 annually he demanded the money. Margery promised to pay him provided he would teach her son Nicholas the craft of a tanner. Lane agreed and, moreover, married him to Marie Dolbeare, widow, who brought him a tenement and £30 per annum. Lane asks to send a writ sub pœna to defendants, etc.

Sir Symon Leach and fellow justices were empowered in 1632 to select a High Constable for Crediton Hundred to replace Edmund Pridham. Robert Lane was chosen.

  1. Judging by the inventory of her household effects and farm stock the Civil War did not much impoverish Margaret Lane of Crediton. “Her purse and apparell £6.13.4d. All her linen cloth £1. 8 paire of sheetes and one dozen table napkins 9s; 2 featherbeddes 6 dust beddes with coverlettes and 10 blankets £10; 8 bedsteddes £3.10; one chest and two cofferes in the parlour chamber £13s 4d; 3 table bordes and 2 side-bordes 3 chairs & one settle 3formes 2 joine-stooles and the sielings in the hall. 1 ammery 1 cupbord £2.10s; 4 hogsheades 3 barrelles 7 costes 4 keenes 3 trendelles £2.5s; 3 dozen of pewter vesselles and six sawcers £3; victuals in salt £2; 1 shovell plowstuffe and iron chaines £1.6.8d; working tooles 13s 4d. 4 brasse candlesticks 2 chamber pottes and two chaffinge dishes 6s. All the wooll £7.9s; brasse panes 4 crockes 1 posset (sic) 1 cauldron 1 skillet 1 pestle and mortar £6.13.4d. 3 spittes 2 brandirons 1 paire of andeirons and dogges with one gridiron and toster 13s 4d.

One paire waine wheeles £1. All the corne threshed £10; corne in the barne in threshing £14. Corne in the grounde £6. All the sheepe £18. 2 cowes 3 young bullocks £8. 1 horse 1 colt 2 saddles with crookes and horse furniture £3. All the swine hogges £5.10. 1 side saddle 1 pillion with covering 1 carpet with cuppes jugges and glasses £1. All the wood in the rick and other places £4. All the poultry 10s. Anything left unprised or out of mind £1. Money due £5.10s.    Total £125.12.6d.

Exhibited by Robert Lane 8 May 1646. (Devon Inventories, Cash).

William Pope of Spencecombe (circa 1820) married Betsy Lane of Woolsgrove – A happy climax to the litigious issues of Robert Lane of Priestcombe and Matthew Pope of Sandford way back in the reign of Charles II.

Generations have already come and gone separating Robert Lane of Priestcombe in 1548 from the first of his blood to till the soil hereabouts … From 1670, at least, they sowed and reaped at Woolsgrove in Sandford, for which parish they have often sat in the Governor’s Room of Holy Cross, Crediton. One Lane, indeed, caused a vacancy by breaking his neck.



[1] Venn, Crediton. Typescript in WSL.
[3] Venn.
[4] www.homesandproperty.co. uk.




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