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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

                              ANTHONY SNELL and ELIZABETH TAKELL (12)                            


ANTHONY SNELL. Henry Seale married his wife Grace in 1616 in the small North Devon village of Chawleigh. The marriage register does not give Grace’s surname. Information about her parentage comes from a document, dated 12 April 1616. Before Henry Eyme alias Zeale, yeoman of Bishops Nympton, married Grace he took out a lease on part of Rose Ash Barton. The lease is for two lives: his own and his intended wife’s. She is named as “Grace Snell, the daughter of Anthony Snell of … in the County of Devon, yeoman”. The name of the parish is on a crease of the document and the ink is worn, but the best reading seems to be Chawleigh. This tallies with the entry in the baptism register for St James, Chawleigh.

1594/5  Grace ye Daughter of Anthony Snell was Baptized ye xiith day of February.

Chawleigh is a small village between Crediton and South Molton above the Little Dart. As late as 1850 the village had only ten houses.

In 1590 Henry Snell, yeoman of Chawleigh, left a will from which it appears that he had more than14 children and 40 grandchildren. Anthony is the only son named. Henry appoints his son Anthony as an executor. He appears to be the oldest surviving son. The eldest son was John, but he predeceased their father in 1585.

Anthony first appears in the 1569 Muster Roll for Chawleigh, and was probably born in the 1530s, in the time of Henry VIII. This may seem to make him rather old to be the father of Grace in 1595, but by then he had been married twice and had a string of children.

Anthony’s father Henry appears in the 1544 and 1581 Lay Subsidy Rolls as the highest rate taxpayer in Chawleigh. His will shows him to have extensive farmlands in several Devon parishes. Anthony grew up in the most affluent family in Chawleigh.

We do not know who his mother’s was. Anthony gave the name Grace to daughters from both his marriages. It is possible that this is his mother’s name.

In the 1569 Muster Roll Anthony Snell is among those charged with providing arms over and above the norm. He is assessed for arms at G7. This required him to provide a bill, a bow, a sheaf of arrows, and a steel cap. He was additionally required to provide a harquebus. He is also listed as an archer.[1]

In the 1581 Lay Subsidy Roll, Anthony is one of three Snells in a total of 21 taxpayers. His father Henry is the highest taxed at G10, followed by Anthony at G6 and his brother John at G5. Despite not yet inheriting from his father, Anthony is clearly already a prosperous yeoman farmer.

Anthony Snell is named again in 1585, this time as one of the executors of his brother John’s will.[2]

Marlene Williamson, who has done a great deal of research into the Snell family, believes that Anthony married twice, and that the children whose names are given in his will before that of his then wife are the offspring of this first marriage. They are William, Grace and Edmond. There may have been others who predeceased their father.

This first wedding seems to have taken place before 1561, when we have the baptism of Edmond

Baptism. St James, Chawleigh.
1560/1 Jan 1  Edmunde son of Anthonye

The order of the children’s names in his will suggests that William and Grace were born before Edmund, putting the marriage in the 1550s, around the time of Queen Mary I.

We have no record of this first wife’s name. There is a burial in Chawleigh on 11 Aug 1562 for Rycherd Snell. No further details are given. Richorde was then a woman’s name, so it is just possible that this is Anthony’s wife, but it is more likely to be one of his previously unnamed brothers. Their grandfather’s name was Richard.

Anthony married Elizabeth Takell in 1592. His first wife had probably died not long before that.


ELIZABETH TAKELL. She was probably considerably younger than Anthony. From the date of her marriage in 1592 we should expect her to have been born in the 1560s. Although this is too early for many parish registers, her father is likely to appear in the 1569 Muster Roll.

We know from Anthony’s will that Elizabeth had a brother Jeffrey TakellJeffery lived in Rose Ash. There are only six Takells in the Devon Muster Rolls, and three of those are in Rose Ash. It seems likely that this was Elizabeth’s home before her marriage. The three are Alexander Tacle, one of the presenters of the Roll, Alexander Tacle, harquebusier, who may be the same man or more probably a younger one, and Robert Tacle, archer. Alexander Takell has already appeared in the 1544 Lay Subsidy Roll for Rose Ash, so it is likely that the two younger men are his sons. We have the will of Alexander Takell of Rose Ash in 1589. He does not mention Robert, Elizabeth or Jeffery . This makes it probable that it is not the will of the older Alexander, but of the younger one. If Elizabeth came from Rose Ash, then it would appear that Robert Takell is her father and the older Alexander Takell her grandfather.

There is an internet family tree that names her parents as Robert and Johane Takell and this seems to be borne out by the burial in 1620 of Johane Takell widow. It gives Elizabeth three siblings, Jeffery, Katheren, and one other.[3]

If this identification is correct, then Elizabeth came from a well-respected family in Rose Ash, but not a particularly affluent one. Alexander Tacle presents the Muster Roll, but is not one of those sufficiently wealthy to be required to provide extra arms and armour.

Her father was probably a yeoman farmer, like the Snells.

Since she married in Chawleigh, we assume that she had moved to live there before then. There was also an Alexander Takell having children in Chawleigh soon after this. He may be her brother. Elizabeth may have accompanied him when he moved to Chawleigh from Rose Ash.


 Elizabeth and Anthony married in 1592.

Marriage. St James, Chawleigh.
1591/2 Anthony Snell & Elizabeth Tukle his wife were marryed ye xith day of Feburyie.


We know of eight children from this marriage.

Baptisms. St James, Chawleigh.
1592  Aug 14   John. He does not appear in his father’s will and may have died in infancy.
1593 Oct 24   Elizabeth. She too is not named in Anthony’s will, but one of the executors is Anthony’s son-in-law Robert Kelland. Robert and Elizabeth were married in Chawleigh in Nov 1614.
1594 Nov 29   Grace. Grace Cory is mentioned in Anthony’s will, but this is probably the daughter of his first marriage.
1596 Oct 2  Anna. She was buried nine days later, on 11 Oct.
1597 Aug 23   Anthony
1599 Nov 5   Charity
1601 Jun  Robert
1603 Apr 21  George

Their family was thus complete in the year Queen Elizabeth died.

When Anthony witnessed his aunt Joan’s will in 1595 he signed with his mark. It may seem surprising that a man of Anthony’s standing could not write his name. One of his nephews attended a school in neighbouring Chulmleigh, but Anthony evidently did not.

In 1613 a terrier of the glebe lands in Chawleigh was made. It includes the following information about land owned by the Snells.

“ther is certayne grounds belonging unto the psonage of Chawleighe, called the Beare about some 3 score acres, lying towards the West from the towne remote from the Towne but a lyttle, bounded on the West side by the lands of John Snell; on the North side by the lande of Anthonye Snell, …. on the South side by the lande agayne of John Snell, of Nethercote…

“on other peece of ground called Newmans pke [park], about the vallew of 12 acres; part whereof is marishe grounde, situate nere Chawleighe Beacon, bonded…. on the West side by the lands of William Snell.”

Chawleigh Beacon would have been used to signal the approach of the Spanish Armada in 1588.

We do not know where Anthony and Elizabeth lived for most of their married life, but not long before he died, Anthony had a new house built at Fiddlecott. This is an isolated farm at the end of a long lane south of the village. The high ground commands views to Dartmoor.

Thatching in Chawleigh [4]

Anthony Snell of Challey als Chauley, yeoman, made his will on 1 Mar 1613. He was buried in Chawleigh on 22 Jan 1617/8. His will was proved on 28 April 1618.

He begins by giving land, some held on very long leases (up to 2000 years) to his sons William, George, Robert and Anthony.

William gets half of the tenement at West Docombe in Chawleigh, held on a 1000 year lease.

George gets the remainder of Anthony’s 2000 year lease on half of Wood als Woodhouse, half of East Tottley (rented out), half of Hill als East Hill (rented out), all of which are in Chawleigh, as well as parcels of the manor of Chawleigh, the other half of Wood als Woodhouse, which is leased. If George predeceases him, George’s share will go to his wife or child, if is married by then, or else be divided equally between Anthony jun and Robert.

To Robert he leaves the other half of Tottley and Hill als East Hill. There is a similar provision for any wife or child if he predeceases Anthony. The implication is again that he is not yet married. Failing this, his share goes to Anthony jun and George equally.

Anthony junior’s legacy is a quarter of the messuage called Higher Ford als Eastford, and other herediments in Chawleigh. If he predeceases his father without issue, these properties pass to Robert, or else to Anthony senior’s right heirs.

He gives the poor of Chawleigh 40 shillings, or £2.

There is a particularly large legacy of £180 to his daughter Charity. It is likely that his other daughters had already received generous marriage portions and this was to provide the same for the currently unmarried Charity. She married Raymond Sylly in Rackenford on 20 Apr 1619, a year after Anthony died, and Robert Bradford in 1626.

His son William Snell and daughter Grace Cory, children of his first marriage, get 40 shillings each, and the daughters of his son Edmund 20 shillings..

He gives 12d (1 shilling) to each godchild.

His wife Elizabeth receives £20 etc. and the moiety (half) of his plate, etc, in his new house of Fiddlecott.

Four children of his second marriage, Anthony, Robert, George and Charity, share the other half of his plate, etc.

There is no legacy for his daughters Elizabeth junior and the younger Grace. This reinforces the assumption that they have already been generously provided for when they married.

He does not name a residual legatee. This would normally be his wife.

His executors are his son Edmund, his son-in-law Robert Kelland and John Edworthy of Chawleigh. The overseers of the will are John Molford and John Pearse. The will is witnessed by John Molford, John Pearse, Roger Molford (who signs his name) and Thomas Hunt.

There is an undated codicil to this will which is nuncupative. This means that it was made orally and not in writing. This can happen if the testator is so sick or injured that they are in imminent danger of death and cannot make a written will. The codicil was witnessed by Margery Calle and Robert Snell.

He leaves his son Anthony a roan colt &c.

His wife Elizabeth 30 sheep.

His 3 younger sons Anthony, Robert & George the Bends & Bark in Boradge Woods equally.

His sons Edmond & William Snell, the said 6 acres of Bend & Bark in Boradge Woods equally.

His wife’s brother Jeffrey Takell 6/8d

Alexander Takell, William Mogford, Margaret Carpenter, Amy Guest & Elizabeth Tossell, each a lamb.

William Mogford was Elizabeth’s nephew, son of her sister Katherine.

Alexander Takell was having children baptised in Chawleigh in 1602 and 1603 and was buried there in1634. He could be another brother of Elizabeth, whose grandfather’s name was Alexander Takell.

The inventory, transcribed by Olive Moger, of Anthony’s goods was taken on 27 Jan 1617/18 by Robert Bird, John Snell the elder, George Rest, John Snell the younger, & Robert Hill. John Snell the elder was probably Anthony’s nephew and John Snell the younger his great-nephew.

The total value of £1308.4.4d shows how wealthy Anthony Snell was.

It included cattle (meaning any domesticated beast), corn and apparel £4. Leather, furniture, 11 silver spoons £2.4.0. A silver piece & silver slat gilted £4. Lease for years for Woodhouse East Hill …… & West Ducham £600. Owed upon speciality £4:12:0: & without £2:4:0. Clearly there were some items that Moger was unable to decipher.

As part of the administration, on 28 April 1618 a bond was taken out by Edmond Snell of Chulmleigh Yeoman, Robert Yelland of Rackenford Gent & John Eddenford of Chawleigh, Yeoman, for £1000.


Elizabeth was left a widow. If she was the residual legatee she would have been a well-to-do woman.

We have not found a burial for Elizabeth Snell, but there is the following marriage licence.
1626 Oct 13  John Parkhouse of Witheridge  and Elizabeth Snell of Chawleighe widow.

If this is the same Elizabeth, then she would have been beyond childbearing age.

The Witheridge registers begin too late for us to find her burial.


[1] T.L. Stoate and A.J. Howard (eds),The Devon Muster Roll for 1569, (www.thebookshop.org.uk)
[2] Olive Moger, Wills, Coll.8/36, WSL.
[3] https://www.myheritage.com/names/elizabeth_takell
[4] Markk Harrington Master Thatcher https://static.wixstatic.com/media/d256dd_8bb96ba9092d409e9d4a9539001fbfdf.jpg






Sampson Tree