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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)



JOHN BEARE. The marriage between John Beare and Maude Nott took place in 1595, three years after the start of the earliest surviving Rose Ash register. It is thus difficult to know much about John’s birth, parentage and childhood. There are burials for Richard Bear in 1600, for Johan Beare in 1609 and for Agnes Beare, widow, in 1613. It is possible that Richard and Agnes are John’s parents, but they could be other relations of his. Marrian Bear, who married two years after John, could be his sister.

There were several Beares in the 1581 Subsidy Roll for Rose Ash. They were assessed for goods at a rate between the highest and the lowest.

We can assume John was born around 1570, since couples usually married in their twenties. This was the reign of Elizabeth I. John would have lived through the exploits of the Devonian seamen, Drake, Raleigh and Hawkins. In 1580 Drake sailed into Plymouth Sound, having completed the circumnavigation of the globe in the Golden Hind. In 1588, John would have cheered the defeat of the Armada.


MAUDE NOTT came from an established Rose Ash family. There are burials for seven people of this name from 1592-1614: Edward in 1592, Jane in 1594, John in 1595, Abraham son of John of Yerscombe and Elizabeth ‘wief of the said John’ in 1597, Tamazen in 1605 and John in 1614. If the couple at Yerscombe were still having children, it is more likely that they are Maude’s brother and sister-in-law, or her cousins, than her parents. Edward or one of the other Johns may be her father. There are a child of John Nott of Lapford christened in Rose Ash in 1605, and a marriage in 1625 for John Nott of Lapford, Co. Devon, Yeoman. It suggests there was another branch of the family in Lapford, ten miles to the south-west, who kept in touch with their Rose Ash relations.

There is only one Nott in the 1581 Subsiday Roll for 1581. John Notte is assessed for goods at £4. This  is one of the lower values. He may be Maude’s father.

References to the family at Yerscombe, later Irishcombe, suggest that they had a farm there. Irishcombe Farm lies in the far south-east of the neighbouring parish of Meshaw, and south of Rose Ash. Whatever the precise relationship of these Notts to Maude, it seems that she came of yeoman stock.


The couple married in Rose Ash in 1595.
1595  Beare, John & Maude Nott  2 July

There were apparently four children.

Baptisms. Rose Ash.
1597  Bear, Richard  s. John  8 May
1600  Bear, Thomas  s. John  3 Aug
1603  Beare, Agnes  d. John  16 Oct
This was the year Queen Elizabeth died and was succeeded by James I.
1611  Beare, John  s. John  16 Nov

Given the eight-year gap, it is possible that John was the son of a different John Beare.

In 1606 and 1607 the register concludes: ‘Teste me  John Venner clic  John Beare warden’. In 1608 and 1609 the certification is ‘John Venner clerke  John Bear warden’. ‘Clerk’ here means a clerk in holy orders, in other words the Rector. John Beare was churchwarden. This could be the father or uncle of our John, but since by now he was an established householder, there is no reason why it should not be him.

The office of churchwarden is a lay ministry, legally recognised in England by the 13th century. From the 14th century, responsibility for repairs to the nave, and for furnishing the utensils for divine service, was settled on the parishioners, with the clergy responsible for the chancel and sanctuary. Churchwardens took on these duties on behalf of the congregation. By the 15th century, churchwardens were chosen in every parish by all the adult parishioners at an annual parish meeting, usually in Easter week, to care for the property of the church and to be guardians of morality. There were usually two, though the smallest parishes might make do with one. All resident householders of the parish were eligible. In the 18th century, the Rector of Rose Ash drew up a rota, listing 49 houses, each to supply a churchwarden in turn. Since John Beare served for four years, that was apparently not the case in the seventeenth century.

Churchwardens are legally responsible for the fabric and contents of churches, for maintaining good order in the church and churchyard, for allocating seats and the collection of the offertory, and for the provision of public worship during periods when there is no incumbent.

They are technically officers of the bishop. At the start of their year of office they take an oath at the archdeacon’s court and account for their stewardship of the church’s goods at the end of the year. They are charged with giving offenders into custody and the presentment of offences against ecclesiastical law. They work closely with the incumbent for the welfare of the parish.

Stocks in Rose Ash church [1]

Three years after the birth of John junior, Maude died.

Burial. Rose Ash.
1614(5)  Beare, Maude  w. John  23 ffeb

John survived her. There is a probable burial for him in 1637.
1637  Beare, John  10 Oct

By then he had at least eight grandchildren in Rose Ash.


[1] British Listed Buildings.




Sampson Tree