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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)


Cory Tree




The Cory surname was once thought to be of Gaelic origin. Recent research has shown that it is more likely to be English. There are no early records of it in Scotland, Wales or the North of England. The earliest occurrences are in the south-west, and even there it appears to be Anglo-Saxon rather than Celtic.

Our branch of the family is descended from a nucleus of Corys in the village of Harpole in Northamptonshire. This lies near the meeting of the Roman Fosse Way, running from south-west to north-east, and Watling Street, north-west to south-east. It is possible that Corys moved from the West Country along this busy trade route, but no evidence has yet been found connecting the two groups, and the surname may have arisen independently.

The name is first recorded in Northampton in 1432, when Thomas Cory was a fletcher (maker of arrows) and a bailiff of the town. Other Corys became maltsters in Northampton and shoemakers in the village of Harpole, four miles west of the town.[1]

A Thomas Cory who made his will in 1503 may well be the earliest known ancestor of that name in Harpole. He may be the son of the bailiff of Northampton of that name, but this is no more than speculation.

His will is only partially legible. It names three sons: William, Robert and Nicholas. There are probably other sons and daughters whose names are lost. William receives six marks (a mark was 2/3 of £1, or 13s 4d). Since he is one of two executors, he may be the second son. There are also bequests to illegible beneficiaries of eight marks and six marks. Robert is an apprentice in London and therefore probably a teenager. The amount of his legacy in marks cannot be read. It is possibly he who receives a ninth part of Thomas’s goods. The residual beneficiary, after the discharge of debts and specific bequests, is Nicholas. This suggests two things: that Thomas’s wife is dead and that Nicholas is his eldest son. This assumption is strengthened by the fact that Nicholas and William, in that order, are named as Thomas’s executors.[2]

This could well be the Nicholas Cory who acquired property in Harpole in 1485.


HARPOLE. Close to the centre of England in the county of Northampton and not far from the intersection of two ancient roads, Watling Street and the Foss Way, lies the small village of Harpole.
   The red ironstone church contains a Roll of Honour commemorating eight Corys who served in the first World War. Also in the church, under a notice board proclaiming a local charity, is the name of John Cory, a church warden in 1748.
   Until 1968 a local property had been in the [Cory] family’s ownership since 1485. A deed of that date, inscribed on pig skin and conveying the property to a Nicholas Cory, is still in existence [the authors were unable to trace it]. From even earlier times the prominent families of the village were the Starmers, the Frosts and the Corys. Until 1960 successive generations of Corys had owned and run the village shop.[3]


Members of the Harpole Heritage Society have seen records showing that a large home in Harpole, now called Fernville, was built by an unknown Corye, circa 1435. Records giving the names and other details about the ancestors of Nicholas Corye before 1500 are either not available or not readable.[4]
1435, the date of this house, was in the reign of Henry VI, the last of the House of Lancaster to hold the throne of England. The country was in the closing stages of the Hundred Years War with France.

In 1460 Northampton saw the decisive battle in the War of the Roses, when Richard of York defeated the Lancastrian forces. Local Corys may well have been caught up in this fighting, or had troops billeted in their village.
Later that year, Richard was killed attacking the queen’s forces in Yorkshire. His son was proclaimed King Edward IV, the first monarch of the House of York.
Henry VI was briefly restored to the throne in 1470-71, but defeated and died in the Tower. He was succeeded by the boy king Edward V, and then in 1483, after the murder of the Princes in the Tower, by Richard III. In 1485 Richard was defeated and slain at Bosworth Field by Henry Tudor, who became Henry VII and the first Tudor king.

It was against this violent background that the Nicholas Cory mentioned in the 1485 deed acquired the property in Harpole. It is likely that he is the father of the first Nicholas Cory who appears in the Harpole parish register in 1538, and who is believed to have been born around 1490.



[1] Michael and Vernon Cory, The English Corys: Their History and Distribution.(The Cory Family Society 1933).
[2] Marilyn Cory
[3] ibid.
[4] www.coryfamsoc/com/harpole





Cory Tree