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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)



THOMAS HOLWAYE.  The earliest Holway ancestor for whom we have direct evidence is John Holway of East Buckland, whose life spanned most of the 17th century. It is likely that his father was John Holway senior, whose estimated birth-date is around 1580. Before that, we can only speculate on the basis of tax and muster rolls.

The 1569 Muster Roll for ‘Eastbucklande’ was presented by three men, of whom the second is Thomas Holwaye. He also appears on the roll as the first of three men in the parish specially charged with providing weapons and armour beyond the normal requirement. He was assessed in the category G7. This means he had an estimated annual income of £10-20, from goods rather than land. It was the lowest category attracting a special levy, but typical for the most affluent parishioners in this area. He was a comparatively wealthy man and obviously a leading figure in East Buckland.

There are no other Holways on the Muster Roll, which should show every able man between 16 and 60, as well as all the wealthy householders. There may have been other Holways who were ‘unable’, but the impression is of a single family, headed by Thomas, who had no sons over 16. He may have been the first of this surname to move to East Buckland and the founder of this line of the family there.

East Buckland stands on the south-facing foothills of Exmoor, seven miles from Barnstaple and five from South Molton. The local economy depended on the flocks of sheep pastured on the hills. Tudor times were the heyday of the Devon wool industry. Farmers, shepherds, spinsters, weavers, those who finished and traded the local serges, all had some share in this prosperity.

Exmoor sheep [1]

The will of Thomas Holway of East Buckland was proved in 1576. His estate was valued at £157.10.4d, a not inconsiderable sum for those days. Unfortunately we do not have details of his bequests, which would have told us more about his family.

In the 1581 Subsidy Roll, the only taxpaying householder of that name in ‘Estbuckland’ is Bartholomew Holwaye. He is assessed as having an income from goods of £5, average for the parish. The logical deduction is that Bartholomew is Thomas’s son, perhaps still a comparatively young man and not yet particularly well-to-do.


[1] http://www.oxenleazefarm.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/sheep..jpg




Sampson Tree