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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



HENRY COLMAN. The East Anstey registers go back to 1596. Henry Colman lived most of his life in the 16th century, so we have to find other sources of information.

We first hear about him in the 1569 Muster Roll for East Anstey.[1] He is the fourth of the four presenters of the Roll. This tells us that he was an influential parishioner, a respected figure in the community.

Twenty-four years earlier, the only Colman in the 1545 Lay Subsidy Roll for East Anstey was John Colman.[2] He does not appear in the 1569 Muster Roll, but we know from the date of his will that he died around 1578. We conclude that by now he was too old and/or infirm to bear arms.

In the early years there only seems to be one nuclear family of Colmans in this parish. We can be fairly confident that John Colman is Henry’s father.

Another will, of 1580/1 is that of Gunnet Colman of East Anstey. There can be very little doubt that she is Henry’s mother.

There is no evidence of siblings. East Anstey is a very small parish. If John Colman was one of the farmers raising sheep on these foothills of Exmoor, then there would only be room for one son to take on the farm.

By the time of the 1569 Muster Roll, Henry is a man of some standing in East Anstey. He is likely to have been born in the first half of the 16th century, in the reign of Henry VIII.


JOANE.  We have no evidence of Henry’s marriage, but his burial in 1609 is followed in 1613 by that of Joane Colman widow. Given the small number of Colmans in this parish, we can be fairly sure that this is Henry’s wife.

In the absence of the early registers, the only record we have of Joane is her burial in 1613.


We do not know how many children the couple had. In 1597, John Colman married Christian Hoopper in the neighbouring parish of Molland, where Christian was born. They raised their family in East Anstey. Following the custom for this family, John’s is the only Colman household in East Anstey in this generation. We can be fairly certain that he is Henry and Joane’s son. He was probably born in the early 1570s, soon after the Muster Roll. We do not know if there were older siblings born before him. As with Henry, we would conjecture that any brothers left East Anstey to earn a living elsewhere.


In the Muster Roll the first two presenters, William Blackemor and Thomas Croke, are specially charged to provide additional arms, besides what was required of everyone. The second two, Thomas Hille and Henry Colman, are not. We conclude from this that, while Henry was a respected parishioner, he was not particularly wealthy.

He is also listed as one of four archers. A total of eleven men were required to bear arms.

England was famed for its archers. Henry would have used a longbow made of yew. He would have had to practise at least once a week and would have developed strong arm and chest muscles.

16th-century archer[3]

We next meet Henry in the 1581 tax assessment.[4] There are 11 taxpayers – 9 men and 2 women. All are taxed for goods, not land. There is one at G8, two at G7, three at G6 and five at G3. Henry Colman  is one of those assessed at G6, placing him a little above the average. Thomas Crook and William Blackmore, who were the presenters of the Muster Roll contributing extra arms, are among the highest. Thomas Hill, the other presenter with Henry in 1569, is classed like him at G6. It confirms our impression of Henry’s place in the East Anstey community.


We know of one of the next generation of Colmans who stayed in East Anstey. John Colman married Christian Hoopper in 1597. By good fortune, this is one year after the East Anstey registers begin, so we are able to trace the children who we believe to be Henry and Joane’s grandchildren. This follows the pattern of just one Colman family in East Anstey in each generation. There were probably others in the surrounding parishes.


Henry and Joane lived most of their lives under a succession of Tudor monarchs, mainly in the long reign of Elizabeth I. They lived to see the accession of the first Stuart monarch of England, James I.


Burials. St Michael, East Anstey.
1609 May 10  Henry Collman
1613 Apr 18  Joane Colman vid. (widow)


[1] The Devon Muster Roll for 1569. Ed.T.L. Stoate and A.J. Howard. https://www.westcountrybooks.com/
[2] Devon Lay Subsidy Rolls 1543-1545. ed. T.L. Stoate. https://www.westcountrybooks.com/
[3] http://www.northhillhistory.co.uk/images/031_1569_banner.jpg
[4] Devon Taxes 1581-1660. ed. T.L. Stoate. https://www.westcountrybooks.com/




Sampson Tree