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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)



WILLIAM VICARYE.  From the 1569 Muster Roll for Rose Ash, it seems likely that William Vicarye is the father of Henry Vicarye and the grandfather of Charitie Vicarye of Rose Ash.

Assuming that Henry Vicarye, a harquebusier in the same roll, is his son, we might expect William senior to have been born in the early decades of the 16th century. If so, he should be a taxpayer in the 1540s. Only two Williams have been found in the 1543-1545 Lay Subsidy Rolls for North Devon.

One is William Vycary of Bishops Nympton, assessed for the lowly sum of £1. If he was a younger son, not yet well established as a yeoman farmer, this is possible. There were also John Vycary senior, at £20, and John Vycary de Yeo junior at £24. William might be the son of one of these. There is also a John Vycary at £5, perhaps William’s brother.

The other is William Vycary of North Molton at £2. He is one of 10 with that surname in the parish, including two women. The highest are Thomas Vycary at £20 and John Vycary at £16.

Rose Ash is adjacent to Bishops Nympton, so that seems the more likely provenance. But North Molton is on the other side of Bishops Nympton, not far away, so it remains a possibility. William Vicarye was one of the leading parishioners in Rose Ash in 1569, so descent from the affluent John Vycary of Bishops Nympton would be appropriate. [1]

Bishops Nympton [2]

William was probably not old enough to be a taxpayer in the Subsidy Rolls of the 1520s.[3]

There are no Vicaryes in Bishops Nympton in the 1524-1527 Lay Subsidy Rolls. But in the neighbouring parish of North Molton there are 6, the largest number for that area. This may be where our Vicaryes originated. They include John Vycary senior assessed for goods at G6 and John Vicary junior at G2. We must be careful about assuming that these are the two Johns of the 1544 Bishops Nympton Subsidy Roll. John was a common name, and the designations “senior” and “junior” changed, as older people died and younger ones grew to adulthood. Nevertheless, it would make a plausible scenario that William was the son of one of these, and that this branch of the family moved to Bishops Nympton before 1544.

It is reasonable to assume that both John Vycarys were the sons of well-to-do men, since they were highly rated in 1544. The highest rated Vycarys in North Molton in the 1520s were Thomas Vycary at G20 and Robert Vicary at G10. Thomas was also assessed at G20 in 1544. If this is the same man, he would have to be of a considerable age by then to be the father of John senior and the grandfather of William.

We can only speculate about William’s parentage and place of birth. The first hard evidence comes from the Muster Roll for Rawse Aishe, or Rose Ash, in 1569.[4] William must have moved there, leaving his parents behind. There seems to be just one nuclear family of Vicaryes in Rose Ash at this stage.

William Vicarye was the first of the four Presenters sworen. The others were William to Beare, Alexander Tacle and James Dodge. This marks William out as one of the most important parishioners.

He will also be the William Vycarye who is one of 6 men required to supply arms and armour above the normal level. This obligation on the more affluent parishioners was determined by their wealth. This might be measured in land or in goods. The rate was in inverse order to the value of goods or land held. For goods, the highest, G1, meant the possession of goods worth 1000 marks (£666.13.4d) or more. The lowest, G7, was £10  – £20. Those worth less than £10 were not specially charged.

In Rose Ash, four men, including William Vycarye and James Dodge, were assessed at G6, which meant £20 – £40. One other was assessed at G7. G6 parishioners each had to supply 1 almain rivet, 2 bows, 2 sheafs of arrows, 2 steel caps and 1 bill. Almain  meant German. The rivet was armour consisting of a breastplate and apron. The bow was the powerful longbow, which stood about 6 ft tall.  A sheaf contained 24 arrows. The bill was similar to the bill hook used in farming. The cutting edge was long and slightly hooked, fastened to the side of a black shaft, 6 ft long. There was usually a spike on the end. It was used for infighting, especially against cavalry, replacing the spear.

In addition to this general requirement, William Vycarye was ordered to supply 1 caliver and 1 murrion. The caliver was a firearm, the precursor of the musket. The murrion, or morion, was a helmet with a central ridge and a narrow brim, worn by pikemen and harquebusiers.

There is a third mention of William Vycarye in the Rose Ash Roll. He is one of four archers. This may be the same as the well-to-do presenter, if he was still able to bear arms. Or it could be a younger man, possibly his son.

There is also Henry Vycary, one of four harquebusiers, who also bore firearms. Again, he is probably William’s son. We know that William and Henry Vicarye were brothers.

The existence of two sons, William and Henry, would fit well with the subsequent evidence for the Vicaryes of Rose Ash.

If the presenter William and the archer are the same, he was probably a younger man, and Henry’s brother rather than his father. In that case, their father is unknown. But it seems more likely that one man with two sons moved to Rose Ash, rather than that two brothers moved together.

There is a will of William Vicarie of Roshashe als Asheraft dated 7 October 1583 [PCC 75 Leicester]. It was proved in London on 16 October 1589 by the procurator of the relict and executrix Joan Vicary..[5]

The names and date suggest that this is more likely to be the will of William junior, the archer in the 1569 Muster Roll, than William senior. The largest bequest is to his son Alexander, £100, while the residue goes to his wife Joan. This suggests he was a man of some wealth. He leaves sheep and cows to some of his legatees, but there are no bequests of land. This suggests he was a prosperous tenant farmer.  This was probably William senior’s status too.

A move from Bishops Nympton to Rose Ash is supported by William junior’s bequest to the poor of Rose Ash and of Bishops Nympton.

The testator is not referred to as William Vicarie junior. We may presume from this that William senior died before 1583.


[1] T.L. Stoate (ed), Devon Lay Subsidy Rolls 1543-1545 (www.thebookshop.org.uk)
[2] http://www.footstepsphotos.co.uk/Devon/dev0168fs-bishops-nympton.jpg
[3] T.L. Stoate (ed), Devon Lay Subsidy Rolls 1524-1527(www.thebookshop.org.uk)
[4] T.L. Stoate and A.J. Howard (eds),The Devon Muster Roll for 1569, (www.thebookshop.org.uk)
[5] National Archives, ref: prob/11/74, Image 254; 13. VICARYE Will.




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