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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




The name Nympton comes from the ancient Celtic word nymet , meaning a sacred grove. There are a other Nymptons in the area: Kings Nympton and George Nympton. They suggest that there was once a forest in North Devon considered as sacred, to the east and south of the present town of South Molton. This village is called Bishop’s because it was an estate of the bishops of Exeter.

We cannot trace the Fookes of Bishops Nympton back further than 1556, when the  surviving parish registers begin. Our earliest known ancestor in this line is Henrie Fooke, who married in 1564 and was probably born around 1540, in the reign of Henry VIII. But there were Fookes in the parish before that who were probably his forebears.[1]

 Bishops Nympton [2]


In the 1524 Lay Subsidy Rolls for Bishops Nympton, when Henry VIII needed to raise taxes, we find William Foke assessed for G3 and Walter Foke for G 2. [3] G means goods, rather than wages or land. This places the Fokes towards the lower end of the economic scale.

A generation later, in the 1545 Subsidy Rolls William and Walter no longer appear. We now have Richard Fowke, assessed at £2. The highest assessment was 12, so again we are looking at a very modest income, though not so low as to be exempt from tax altogether.

There may be other Fookes whose incomes were too low for taxation.

There are no Fookes in the Elizabethan 1581 tax assessment, although we know that Henrie Fooke was alive then and living in Bishops Nympton.[4] Nor does he appear in the 1569 Muster Roll for the parish. [5] We have speculated that he may have been unfit to bear arms and too poor to be taxed.

Henry may be the son of Richard Fowke and the grandson of either William or Walter Foke, though we cannot rule out the possibility that there were other Fookes who do not appear in the tax records.

The general impression is that the Fookes were managing on a somewhat low income.

We have no evidence of their occupations.


[1] Parish registers on Findmypast.
[2] http://media.rightmove.co.uk/dir/crop/10:9-16:9/124k/123586/48393549/123586_TAL170015_IMG_01_0000_max_476x317.jpg
[3] Devon Lay Subsidy Rolls 1524 – 1527, ed. T L Stoate. www.thebookshop.org.uk.
[4] Devon Taxes 1581 – 1660, ed. T L Stoate. www.thebookshop.org..uk
[5] The Devon Muster Roll for 1569, ed. T L Stoate & A J Howard. www.thebookshop.org..uk






Sampson Tree