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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)



The earliest member of the Robbins family found so far is Margaret. We have no certain record of her birth or her parentage.

There are at least three possible baptisms for her:
21 Aug 1599, Hatherleigh, Margrett d. of Phillip Robins
1 May 1603, Shebbear, Margaret d. of John and Johan Robyns
1601 Apr 11  Tawstock, Margaret Robbyns base borne of Petrenell Robbyns
10 Feb 1604/5, Bradford, Margarett d. of Humfry Robins.

Tawstock is the nearest to Littleham, where she settled, at 8 miles, Shebbear is 9 miles, Bradford 10 miles, Hatherleigh the furthest at 13 miles. The early registers for the little parish of Landcross, adjacent to Littleham, are faded and hard to read but do not appear to contain the name Robins. There is a gap between 1608 and 1617.

Given that Margaret herself had a baseborn child, the Tawstock baptism seems most likely, but this is by no means conclusive evidence.


In 1626 Margaret brought her fatherless baby to the church of St Swithuns in Littleham by Bideford  to be baptised.

Baptism. Litteham by Bideford.
1625/6  25 Jan  Charles son of Margaret Robings.

Littleham is a well-wooded parish south of Bideford. The River Torridge forms its eastern boundary and the River Yeo its southern.

When the church of St Swithin was being restored in the 19th century, a number of wall paintings were discovered. They had been plastered over and replaced by texts. This may have happened at the Reformation in the 16th century or under the 17th century Puritan Commonwealth following the Civil War. If the latter, then Margaret would have seen them every Sunday when she came to church.
On the eastern wall of the north transept was a painting of St Swithin, a 9th century Bishop of Winchester. “The Bishop is shown wearing a dark red chasuble – a long sleeveless outer vestment worn when celebrating Mass – together with red gloves. He holds a pastoral staff in his left hand while his right hand is raised in the attitude of blessing with the two fingers and thumb extended.”[1] This can be still seen today.
Paintings of St Christopher, St Margaret and St Laurence could not be saved. Nor could the figure on the north wall, just west of the transept. It was probably of Christ, but the symbolism remains enigmatic. “This is a standing figure full face to the spectator and naked with the exception of a loin cloth. The head and face is in good preservation, short hair with small pointed beard. The elbows are close to the sides with the palms of the hands turned outwards towards the spectator and in each hand is a mark which may be meant for the scar of the nails. The left foot has a very distinct stigma, black, with yellow rays of glory round it. The right foot is nearly obliterated. On the left side is an immense elongated diamond shaped patch which presumably is intended to represent the Wound in the Side, but the puzzle of the picture consists in the surroundings of the Figure. In the upper left hand corner above the Head are a pair of scales and something else; on the right of these are two small flasks, while down the left side are a pair of pincers, something which might be a blacksmith’s anvil, an old-fashioned curved saw, a hammer, a pair of large long handled tongs, and two or three odd shaped things which may be anything.

St Swithun’s church, Littleham [2]


Seven years after Charles’s baptism, Margaret married John Hill.

Marriage. Littleham by Bideford.
1632/3  30 Jan  John Hill and Margrett Robbins

Less than a month later a daughter was baptised.

Baptism. Littleham by Bideford
1632/3  22 Feb  Marie d. of John Hill.

Whether John was Marie’s father is uncertain. If he was, and he was willing to marry Margaret, it is surprising that he did not do so earlier. The Overseers of the Poor would sometimes pay a man to take a woman off their hands who would otherwise be an unmarried mother in need of parish support.

Another daughter was born two years later.
1634/5  Feb 27  Ellin


There is a burial in Littleham on 1 March 1644/5 for ‘John Hill Clarke of Littleham’. This could mean that Clarke was his surname, but it seems more likely that he was John Hill, and that he was the parish clerk. If so, then he was in charge of the orderly running of the services, and would have helped to lead the singing.

His death would have been at the height of the Civil War in Devon.

If Margaret was widowed then, she would have had the support of her son. He married three years later. Unfortunately, one of her two granddaughters died the year before Margaret.

After Margaret’s death, the villagers contributed to a collection for “the Redemption of ye Xtian Slaves in Turkey’. Charles was among those contributing the lowest amount, 6d, showing he had a low income. Paul Hill contributed 1s and his wife 6d. Whether they took any share in supporting the widowed Margaret we can only guess.


Margaret died in 1665, five years after the Restoration. She was probably in her sixties.

Burial. Littleham.
1665  Margaret Hill  20 May



[1] Herbert George Morse. The Church of S. Swithin, Littleham. London: Pickering & Chatto (1900).
[2] http://www.littleham-landcross.org.uk/imitchell/Genealogy/littleham/morse/9bishop.jpg




Sampson Tree