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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)




We can trace our Pettit line back to Richard Pettit of Ringwould in East Kent who lived in the reign of Elizabeth I. He has an estimated birth date before 1550. These are ancestors of Elizabeth Ann May, who married Thomas William Cory in the 19th century.


Pettit is a French name meaning “small”. It is likely to have been given to a number of unrelated men. We find it across the country, from Yorkshire to Cornwall.

When we discover a French surname, our first instinct is to assume that its origin is Norman. In the case of our East Kent Pettits there is reason to believe that they may have originated in Picardy, further east than Normandy.


JOHN LE PETIT. The earliest link we have to north-east Kent is a document from 1299.  John le Petit and Fremin de Millevile, burgesses of Abbeville, petitioned King Edward I for the settlement of a debt owed to them by the burgesses of Sandwich, Kent.[1] Abbeville is in northern France between Rouen and Lille, It stands on the River Somme 12 miles from the English Channel. It lies within the province of Picardy

In 1272, Ponthieu, whose chief town is Abbeville, passed to the king of England following the marriage of the future Edward I to Eleanor, half-sister of the king of Castile. For centuries after, it alternated between English and French rule.

A burgess was a freeman of a borough.

Abbey of St Riquier near Abbeville [2]


It would appear that  John le Petit, burgess of Abbeville, travelled across the Channel and did business in Sandwich. He may eventually have settled there or sent a son there to represent his business interests.


VALENTINE PETYT. The name Pettit or Petyt occurs frequently in medieval documents from Kent. The most significant one for us is dated 1467, in the reign of Edward IV. It concerns property in the Isle of Thanet and names, among others, Valentine Petyt. [3] The Isle of Thanet is the north-east tip of Kent, separated from the rest of the county by the narrow Wantsum Channel. It lies north of Sandwich, where we find John le Petit two centuries earlier.

Richard Pettit of Ringwould, our earliest identified Pettit ancestor, gave the unusual name Valentine to his eldest son. This makes it very likely that the older Valentine is his direct ancestor or a close relation.

1467 is less than a hundred years before the time when we estimate Richard was born.

A family tree on Ancestry has Valentine Pettit born on the Isle of Thanet in 1486.


JOHN PETYT senior,            WILLIAM PETIT and JOHN PETIT. In the same year, 1467, there is a grant of property in Ickham, between Canterbury and Sandwich, which had been a gift from William Petit and John Petit, sons and heirs of John Petyt senior, of Shalmsford in Chartham. Chartham lies just south-west of Canterbury.[4]

The proximity of Ickham to Sandwich links us back to John le Petit of Abbeville, who had dealings with the burgesses of Sandwich around 1299.


JOHN PETYT, gentleman.  Around 1480 John Petyt, gentleman, is one of a number of people who demise “the manor of Chymbeham and of all their lands &c. in Frenyngham, Kyngysdowne, and Mapilscome” to Henry Hall, gentleman.[5] Kingsdown is on the coast just east of Ringwould and is part of Ringwould parish. Ringwould is where we find our ancestor Richard Pettit in the following century.

Shortly afterwards, in 1487, we have a grant of land formerly held by a group of people including John Petit of the Island of Thanet Kent, Gentleman, to hold for the life of Dame Elizabeth Bassett widow for her lifetime and then for her husband’s heirs.[6]

It was on Thanet that Valentyne Petyt was involved with property in 1467. It is possible that John Petyt gentleman is his son.

Ten years later, in 1497, we have a similar document of feoffment, again concerning Lady Bergevenny, formerly Elizabeth Bassett, and John Petyt, Isle of Thanet Kent, Gent.[7]


VALENTINE PETTIT. A family tree on Ancestry has Valentine Pettit born on the Isle of Thanet in 1486. He was the son of John Pettit (1456-1533). He married Joan Beverley, born in 1490. They had a son Henry Pettit (1518-1599). His father is likely to be the John Petyt gentleman of the Isle of Thanet listed above.


WILLIAM PETYTT senior. All of these references involve places in north-east Kent. We come to Ringwould itself, where we find our earliest known Pettit ancestor, Richard Pettit, in a deed of 1525/6. It again involves property in Kingsdown in Ringwould parish.[8]


Kyngesdowne, Jan. 10, 17 Hen. VIII. Suzanna Chylde, widow, late the wife of John Chylde alias Hance of Kyngesdowne in the par. of Rengeweld, grants and confirms to William Naylor of Deale  and William Petytt of Rengeweld, sen., all her lands with appurtenances in Kyngesdowne to be held by the said Naylor and Petytt to the use of Suzanna for the term of her life and on her death to the use of Alice her daughter, wife of Thomas Mylton and the heirs of their body lawfully begotten, and in default of such heirs to the right (rectis) heirs of Suzanna. Warranty against all men. Endorsed: Suzanna Childes grant of all her lands in East Kent to William Naylor and William Petytt.


WILLIAM PETYTT junior. This deed of 1525/6 implies the existence of William Petytt junior. Given that we estimate a birth date for Richard Pettit of Ringwould in the 1540s, there is a strong possibility that William Petytt junior and William Pettyt senior of Rengeweld are either his father and grandfather, or his grandfather and great-grandfather.


[1] National Archives. SC 1/29/170
[2] By Paul Pétau – Web Gallery of Art:   Image  Info about artwork, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15610932
[3] Feet of Fines. http://www.medievalgenealogy.org.uk/fines/abstracts/CP_25_1_117_333.shtml
[4] Canterbury Cathedral Archives. Abstract on the National Archives website CCA-DCc-ChAnt/I/198.
[5] National Archives. E 40/5393
[6] Salters Company. Abstract on the National Archives website H1/21/2.
[7] Salters Company. Abstract H1/4/2/5
[8] Lambeth Palace Library. Abstract on the National Archives website CM 31/140.





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