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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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RICHARD WYDICOMBE or WITHECOM first appears in the North Bovey registers with the burial of his son Thomas in 1594. The parish registers go back to 1572 and there are no earlier instances to this surname in any of its variant spellings. The gap of 22 years is sufficiently small for Richard to have been born in North Bovey before these baptismal records begin. On the other hand, Thomas’s baptism has not been found in the parish, so Richard may have come from elsewhere.

The earliest known instance of this surname is the birth about 1214 of Robert de Widecombe, son of Robert of Bolonia. This took place in Widecombe, five miles from North Bovey. Robert of Bolonia appears to be a Norman from Boulogne on the north French coast. His son took his name from the English village where he was born and which became his home. Richard may be descended from this family, or the surname may have been given at a later date to someone else who came from Widecombe.

There is no firm evidence of Richard’s parentage, but on 24 December 1598 Gregorye Wedicomb was buried in North Bovey. He could be Richard’s father. There never seem to be more than two Withecomb men raising families in North Bovey at the same time, so it is likely that they were a closely related family.

Richard is likely to have been born in the 1560s, in the early years of Queen Elizabeth I.

His first marriage took place before 1594, and apparently not in North Bovey. His wife’s name was Alse, an early form of Alice.

Their son Thomas is known only through his burial.

Burial. North Bovey.
1594  Wedycombe, Thomas  s. of Richard.  Apr 26

Thomas’s baptism has not been found in North Bovey, though some entries have been damaged by damp. From then on, if not before, he seems to be firmly settled in the village. Four daughters and another son are recorded there.

Baptism. North Bovey.
1595  Wydicombe, Honor  d. of Richard.  Sep 5
1596(7)  Wydicomb, Johana  d. of Richard.  Jan 19
1598  Wydicombe, Richaurd  d. of Richard.  Apr 14
1602  Wydicom, Mary  d. or Richard.  Apr 30


The speculation that Richard’s parents did live in the parish, and that Gregorye may be his father, is strengthened by another baptismal entry in 1602.

1602  Withicum, Rabige  ill. d. of Alse  servt of Widow Withicum.  Aug 25

Widow Withicum may well be Richard’s mother and Gregorye’s widow.

This unmarried servant is clearly not Richard’s wife Alse. It seems unlikely that she was known by this surname simply because it was her employer’s. She may have been a relation who came to work for Widow Withicum, before or after Gregorye’s death. The keeping of a servant suggests that the Withecombs were a family of some standing.

‘Rabige’ sounds like an approximation to ‘Rebecca’, written by a rector or churchwarden who was unfamiliar with it as a baptismal name. The use of Old Testament names was popularised by the Puritan movement.

The baby’s father is not named. He may be the Christopher Saunders who appears later in the story, or possibly a member of the Withecomb family. If, as it appears, Alse was still in service with Widow Withicum at the time of the baby’s baptism, then she was not turned out of her employment because of her pregnancy. It is possible, though, that the entry reflects her previous position.

Baby Rabige lived less than a month. She was buried on Sep 24.


In 1604 Richard’s wife Alse gave birth to her last child, a son after four daughters. His arrival would have been a cause of rejoicing, especially because of the earlier death of Thomas.

1603(4)  Wethicom, Nicholas  s. of Richard.  Mar 11

But the birth cost Alse her life.

Burial. North Bovey.
1603(4)  Wethicomb, Alse  w. of Richard.  Mar 23

As so often, it is only at her burial that we learn Alse’s name.

Richard quickly remarried, this time to a woman from a North Bovey family.

Marriage. North Bovey.
1604  Wythicombe, Richard and Margret Casleighe.  Aug 18.


MARGRET CASLEIGHE may be the daughter of John Casleighe, baptised in North Bovey on 8 May 1585. If so, she was 19 when she married the widower Richard. But there is a later marriage which could also be this girl’s. Another possibility is that she might herself have been a widow.

She bore Richard another five children, as well as looking after at least five from his first marriage.

Baptisms. North Bovey.
1605  Wethicom, John  s. of Richard.  May 4
1607  Wethicom, Margret  s. of Richard.  Apr 17

The following year, Widow Withicum’s servant Alise was again in trouble, this time with twins.

1608  Wethicom, Peter & George  ill. ss. of Alise, rep. father being Christopher Saunders.  Sep 13

Under the Poor Law, an unmarried pregnant woman was questioned before magistrates and had to affirm under oath the name of the baby’s father. His family, and perhaps hers, had to give assurances that the baby would be provided for and not become a burden on the rates.

This time, Alise is not said to be Widow Withicum’s servant. Personal information is rare in the North Bovey registers, so it is unclear whether or not this was the case.


Richard and Margret named their next daughter Allse, perhaps after Richard’s dead wife.

1608(9)  Wethicom, Allse  d. of Richard.  Feb 19

In 1611 there was a baptism for a daughter of Humphrie Withicom, possibly a brother of Richard, but maybe an incomer. There are no other records of him.

1612  Withecombe, Joane  d. of Richard.  Nov 1
1615  Withycom, Michaell  s. of Richard.  May 7


After Thomas in 1594, none of Richard’s large family seems to have died in infancy. There is a burial in 1626 for Margaret, daughter of Richard Withecombe. She would have been eighteen.


There is a likely burial for Richard Withecombe on 25 Dec 1630.

Margret’s death has not been found.






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