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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)



HUMFRYE SOUTHCOMBE was the son and heir of Robert Southcombe, gent, and Elinor Cruwys.[1] His mother was the daughter of the lord of the manor of Cruwys Morchard. Humfrye was therefore descended from generations of Cruwys antecedents, who were lords of many Devon manors, some of whom could trace their ancestry back to the Norman Conquest.

His parents are believed to have married about 1560. [2] In 1562 and 1566 his sister Thomasyne and brother George were baptised in the church of Bishops Nympton. Since George was still alive in 1596, when Humfrye was named as Robert’s heir, he must have been a younger son.[3] This means that Humfrye was born before 1566, shortly after Elizabeth I came to the throne.

Despite the Bishops Nympton baptisms, it is likely that the family were living in Mariansleigh, a village 3 miles SE of South Molton. Humfrye was almost certainly baptised in Mariansleigh’s parish church, though the loss of the early registers makes it impossible to prove this. In adult life, Humfrye owned Yeo Barton, and evidence suggests that this may have been the family home since his great-grandfather came to Mariansleigh.[4]  Yeo Barton lies in Mariansleigh parish, but alongside the Crooked Oak brook, which forms the boundary with Bishops Nympton. The latter’s church is only half a mile away, up the hill across the brook. Mariansleigh’s church is nearly two miles off by road. If the family were living at Yeo Barton, then Bishops Nympton church would have been more convenient.

                                                        Bishops Nympton from Yeo Barton


The Southcombes were the leading family in Mariansleigh. Humfrye’s grandfather, Robert Southcombe was one of the three parishioners presenting the 1569 Muster Roll for the parish. He was sufficiently wealthy in goods to have to provide armour and weapons over and above the normal requirement. Humfrye’s father Robert Southcombe is listed on the roll as an archer.[5]

Later that year, when Humfrye was eight or less, Robert and Elizabeth, with their young family, moved five miles west to the village of Satterleigh.[6] His uncle George, then a teenager, may have moved with them, since he married in this parish.

Humfrye grew up as the son of landed Elizabethan gentleman. In the 1581 Subsidy Roll for Satterleigh, when Humfrye was in his late teens, his father owned land with an annual income of £4. The next highest in the parish was £1.[7]


JANE BEARE. Nothing is known as yet about Jane Beare’s origins. Since she married in Satterleigh, we suppose this was her home parish. The parish registers from 1574 begin too late to show her baptism.


Humfrye and Jane married in Satterleigh in 1586.

Marriage Register. St Peter’s, Satterleigh.
1586  Humfry Southcombe & Jane Beare were married the ?th Daie of September. Ano Dmi

They seem to have begun their married life in the village of Westleigh, on the east slopes of the Torridge estuary, near Bideford, unless they were on a visit there when their first child was born. Here, their daughter Marie was baptised. They were sufficiently unfamiliar to the parish for Humfrye’s name to be recorded inaccurately and then corrected.

Baptismal Register. St Peter’s, Westleigh.
 1587  Marie the Daughter of John Humphrey Southcombe was baptized the 9 Daye of September

They did not stay in Westleigh. This is the only reference to the Southcombes in that register.

The following year, this seafaring part of Devon, and the port of Bideford, would have cheered the news that the invading Spanish Armada had been thwarted and many of its ships wrecked. The admiral of the English fleet was Charles Howard, but no doubt in Devon the credit went, as it still does today, to the Devonian Francis Drake.

Around this time, Humfrye and Jane, with their baby, moved either to Bishops Nympton or, more likely, to Mariansleigh. They used Bishop Nympton church, as Humfrye’s parents had, but they were certainly living in Mariansleigh by 1596.[8] The registers should say if someone comes from another parish, but they were not always meticulously kept in this respect at this period.

Like generations of Southcombes before him, Humfrye now had the status of gentleman.

Baptisms. Bishops Nympton. (DCRS transcripts)
1589  Southcombe, Margarett  d. of Humfrye gent & Jane  9 June
1592  Southcombe, John  s. of Humfrye gent & Jane  31 Mar
1599  Southcombe, Roberte  s. of Humfrye & Jane  24 Aug
1605  Southcombe, George  s. of Humfrie & Jane  28 Apr

It is likely they were living at Yeo Barton, on the boundary with Bishops Nympton. Humfrye’s grandfather had died in the 1570s and his grandmother Margaret in 1580. Since Humfrye’s parents remained in Satterleigh, he and Jane may have been the next Southcombes to take over the farm.  They certainly owned it towards the end of their lives.

It is possible that other children were baptised at Mariansleigh’s church, whose records are lost to us. An anonymous researcher, who compiled a large Southcombe pedigree, credits the couple with two further sons, both named Humphrey, suggesting the first one died. No dates or sources are given for this information.[9]

Humfrye’s uncle George was High Constable of Witheridge Hundred. In 1595, he was riding a colt to Witheridge Fair when he came across two men sword-fighting. As he rode in to stop them, his inexperienced mount took fright and threw him. He was taken back to his home in Rose Ash and died within a few hours. An urgent message must have reached Humfrye, because he was there at George’s bedside, with his father from Satterleigh, to witness his uncle’s will.[10]

The property document which proves Humfrye and Jane were living in Mariansleigh by 1596 also gives crucial evidence of Humfrye’s parentage, which has not been found anywhere else.[11]

17 February 1596 38 Elizabeth

Lease for lives of lessees.
(1) Robert Southcombe of Satturleigh, gent., and Humfrye Sowthcombe of Marrynaleigh, gent., his son and heir apparent.
(2) Joane Bradforde, the wife of George Bradforde of Kennerleigh and Robert Bradforde the younger, the son of the said George Bradforde.
Messuages, lands and tenements at Bynneford.
Consideration: £45.
Rent: 26s. 8d., and a capon
Heriot: Best Beast.

Stockleigh English is a village 4 miles north of Crediton and 13 miles from Mariansleigh. Other leases show that Bynneford, a farm beside Binneford Water on the boundary with Kennerleigh, had been in the Southcombe family for five generations.

In 1603, Humfrye’s father died. This was also the year of Queen Elizabeth’s death, when the Stuart king, James I, came to the throne. As the eldest son, Humfrye would have come into a sizeable inheritance.

In 1605 there was a “Covenant between Humfrey Southcombe, gent., of Marley, otherwise Marleigh (Devon), and John Radford the younger of Okeforde (Devon) that the said Humfrey will before Pentecost next levy a fine unto the said John Radford of the messuages, etc., called Eastapps and Okehayes, otherwise Eastapps and Okespraye, situate in Okeford aforesaid, to the sole use and behalf of the said John Radford, his heirs and assigns. Dated 4 March, 2 James [I].”[12]

In 1606 and 1607 there were more transactions concerning the Southcombe property in Stockleigh English. Humfrye was now the sole owner:

On 20 December 1606, Humphrey Southcomb of Marrynsleigh, gent, agreed a bargain and sale to John Tuckfeild of Credyton, gent, of messuages, lands and tenements with appurtenance in Bynneforde, Stockleigh English, for a consideration of £90.[13]

The same day, the two agreed a bond of £180 for performance of covenants in a pair of indentures of bargain and sale concerning these lands.[14]

In the Hilary (Spring) Term 1607, there were indentures of fine between John Tuckefyld, gent, plaintiff, and Humfrey Soutcombe, gent, defendant. This concerned 1 messuage, 1 garden, 2 orchards, 20 acres land, 8 acres meadow, 20 acres pasture, 2 acres wood and 60 acres furze and heath with appurtenances in Bynford alias Bynneford and Stockley Englyshe.[15]

Like some other landed gentry of the time, Humfrye was illiterate. On 16 Aug 1610, Richarde Trewycho granted lands at Exminster to Henry Tothill of Peamore. Among the witnesses was Humfrye Southcombe, “who makes his mark”. He was one of four witnesses. It appears that the other three signed their names.[16]

Sometime in the early 17th century, Humfrye and Jane made changes to Yeo Barton. It had been a high quality medieval farmhouse, with a hall the full height of the building. Now, Humfrye divided it into two floors, with a staircase at the rear. There was a series of bedrooms on the first floor opening into each other. Sometime in the 17th century a single-story east wing was added. This room had no fireplace but fine carpentry. The uncertain dating means that it could have been built in Humfrye’s time, or that of his son Robert, or Robert’s son John.

In 1621, a marriage licence was granted for Humfrye Southcombe, gent, of Chittlehampton. It is possible that this was Humfrye and Jane’s son.[17]

The Devon Subsidy Roll of 1624 for Mariansleigh shows 12 taxpayers assessed for land, and 7 for goods. The list of those assessed for land is headed by: ‘Humfrye Southcombe, gent’. The transcript does not give the amount of the assessments. Humfrye is the only parishioner listed as a gentleman. [18] The Southcombes were again Mariansleigh’s leading family.

We meet Humfrye and Jane once more, eight years on, when they were probably in their sixties. There is a lease, dated 1632. The DRO catalogue entry reads:[19]

Lease by Hump Southcomb gent and w. Jane to Peter Rocke yeo., all of Marleigh, of closes called Eastacoars, West Eastacor, East Eastacor and South Eastacor (80a), part of Yeo Barton in Marleigh.

Eastacor is probably the farm known today as Eastacott. It lies to the south of Yeo Barton. It may have been that, in old age, the couple were finding the farm too big to manage and were glad to let some of it.

It is interesting to note that Jane was co-owner with Humfrye. This may have been part of her dower land.

Today, a footpath runs down from Bishops Nympton cemetery to a footbridge over the Crooked Oak at the mill. It then turns across a field and into the back garden of Yeo Barton, emerging on to the drive and out to the road.

Humfrye is not listed in the 1641 Protestation Returns for Mariansleigh, nor for any other parish, unless he is the Humphrey Sercom, gentleman in Atherington. At times, the Sercom and Southcombe surnames seem to be interchangeable. Otherwise, we can assume that he died between 1632 and 1641, when he was probably around 70, We have no information about Jane’s death. They were probably both buried in Mariansleigh, where the 17th century registers have not survived.

Their eldest son John may have died before them. It was Robert who followed the family tradition by becoming a leading parishioner in Mariansleigh. He presented the Protestation Return for the parish in 1641.


[1] A2A.org.uk: Shelley of Shobrooke  Z1/30/23
[3] A2A.org.uk: Shelley of Shobrooke  Z1/30/23
[4] A2A: Cornwall Record Office EN/796
[5] The Devon Muster Roll of 1569 [WSL].
[6] DRO: Course of a will between Hatch & Tucker. 9 Feb 1597.  Moger Series I, No. 87
[7] T.L. Stoate (ed), Devon Taxes 1591-1660, [WSL]
[8] A2A.org.uk: Shelley of Shobrooke  Z1/30/23
[10] Major W.H. Wilkin, Southcomb of Rose Ash. [WSL]
[11] A2A.org.uk: Shelley of Shobrooke Z1/30/23
[12] Deed, 1605
[13] A2A: Z1/30/25
[14] A2A: Z1/30/26
[15] A2A: Z1/30/24a-b
[16] Trans. Dev. Assocn. 1899, p.128.
[17] Exeter Marriage Licences, DCRS collection, WSL.
[18] Devon Subsidy 1624, transcribed by Charles Edward Banks from original in PRO.
[19] A2A: Cornwall Record Office EN/796





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