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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)



JOHN KEYNES. According to the 17th century pedigree compiled by Sir William Pole, John was the son of Nicolas Keynes, in the succession of lords of the manor of Winkleigh Keynes.[1] The manor had been hands of his family since the 12th century. We have no information about his mother.

His date of birth is not known, but estimating from the birth dates of his son and his great-grandfather, a date around 1452 is likely.[2]

This was in the reign of Henry VI, the last of the Lancastrian kings. In the 1450s the Wars of the Roses broke out, resulting in the overthrow of the House of Lancaster in 1461 and the replacement of Henry by Edward IV, Duke of York. Henry briefly returned to the throne in 1471, but was defeated again and died in the Tower, probably murdered by Edward and his brother Richard, later Richard III. Whether John, as a young man, played any part in this bloody feud, we do not know.


JOAN. We know the surnames of many of the Keynes’ wives, but not Joan’s. Pole’s pedigree of the Keynes family does not mention her. We know of her through her IPM.[3]


Their son and heir, another John, was born in 1472-73, so we may presume that the couple were married around 1470, around the time when Edward IV made certain that the House of York would hold on to royal power by eliminating the captive Henry VI.


We do not know when John’s father Nicolas died, but he seems have become lord of the manor quite young, certainly before June 1476.[4]

In his great-grandfather’s day, the Keynes family had owned extensive estates in four or five counties, including properties in several parts of Devon. John appears to have had property in Dorset, though details of this are not given in the abstract of his IPM. But the property in Devon has shrunk to Winkleigh Keynes itself. Some of this loss may have happened when his great-great-uncle, another John, died, leaving no son. It is possible that the bulk of the estates passed to his daughter, Joan Speke, and that John’s great-grandfather Richard Keynes, his brother and male heir, inherited only Winkleigh Keynes.[5]

The reduction in fortunes does not stop there. On 10 June 1476 John handed over the manor to William Yeo and Otho Gilbert, apart from four areas of land, some with houses, for which he continued to receive rent and services. For reasons which are unclear, the manor reverted to John, Joan and their heirs by a charter dated 24 Dec 1478.[6]

By the 15th century there was a breakdown of the old manorial system, where serfs provided their lord with labour and dues in kind. Their relationship was now one of money rents and wage labour. Lords became landlords and serfs were now tenants.

Law and order had largely broken down in the period of strife abroad and at home. The gentry were more inclined to have their way by resorting to armed force than seeking justice through the courts. We do not know how well John fulfilled his manorial responsibilities.

The family probably continued to live at Winkleigh Castle on its mound to the east of the village.


John died on 24 June 1479, when his son John junior was only six. Many of the Keynes men died when their heirs were young children. It is possible that some of these early deaths were the result of warfare.

The IPM for his Devon estate was held in Exeter. The escheator in charge of the investigation was Otho Gilbert, one of the two men to whom John had handed over the fief of the manor. It is therefore significant that this first IPM does not mention that the manor had since reverted to the Keynes family.

KEYNES, John.                            20 Edw.IV. [1480]
Chancery Inq. p.m. Edw.IV. File 77 (75)
m.1. & 2. Dorset.
m.3.       Writ dated at Westminster 20 Feb.19 Edw.IV. [1479/80]
m.4.       Devon.

Delivered into Court 14 July by John Kyrton.

Inquisition taken at Exeter 26 June 20 Edw.IV. [1480] before Otho Gilbert, escheator, by the oath of Richard Chechester, Robert Pomeray, John Bere, of Hunsham, John Denyok, Walter Ralegh, Walter Coplestone, John Speccote, esquires, John Speccote, jun., John Colle, John Appulton, John Peuerell, John Prous, Robert Knyghtston, William Tremayn, William Sampford, Robert Parys & William Smyth: who say that John Keynes was seised of the manor of Wynkelegh Keynes. And that Ralph Copleston was seised of one carucate of land in Penyston in that manor, held of John Keynes by knight’s service & 7s. rent. Walter Gorvyn was seised of a messuage & 40 acres in Towe & Bykebeare held of the same manor, by knight’s service & 15d. rent. John Gambon of Moreston held 15 acres in Richemersshe of that manor, by knight’s service & 3s 10½ d. rent. William Aysshelegh held 2 messuages, 60 acres of land, 3 of meadow, 40 of heath in Aysshelegh of that manor, by fealty & 5s. 6d. rent.

John Keynes enfeoffed William Yeo & Otho Gilbert of the said manor of Wynkelegh Keynes long before his death, & they became seised thereof, except of the rents & services of the said 4 tenants. The said Manor is held of the King’s honor of Gloucester, worth by the year, clear, £6. 13s. 4d.

John Keynes died 24 June 19 Edw.IV. [1479].

John, son & heir, aged 6.


Joan survived John by fifteen years, holding held the manor during her eldest son’s minority.


In 1483, Edward IV died and was succeeded by his brother, Richard III. He was so vilified by Tudor propagandists that it is hard to get a real sense of the man he was. A portrait was overpainted to give him an exaggerated hunchback, since a deformed body was supposed to be evidence of a warped character.

Richard’s right to the throne was challenged by Henry Tudor, who had married the only surviving child of Edward IV, sister of the murdered Princes in the Tower. In 1485, Richard was killed at the Battle of Bosworth Field. Henry Tudor took the throne as Henry VII.


In 1493, the question of the true ownership of Winkleigh Keynes manor surfaced again. John junior was approaching his majority at 21. Would he be the rightful lord of the manor? A commission was set up in December 1493 and an enquiry was held at Exeter in April 1494.

In the meantime, Joan died. There is conflicting evidence about the date. The enquiry into the handover of Winkleigh manor says she died on 20 March 1493. But the IPM into her death puts it at 20 March 1494. The date of this IPM, in October 1494, makes the later date far more likely.

When the inquisitors met in Exeter, they satisfied themselves that the grant of the manor to William Yeo and Otho Gilbert, made in 1476, had been reversed two years later. John, now 21, was, indeed, lord of the manor.

KEYNES, John.                                            9 Henry VII. [1494]
Chancery Inq.p.m.  Ser.II.  Vol.23. (22)
m.1.  Commission directed to Robert Willoghby, Knt., lord de Broke, John Biconell, Knt., Amyas Paulet, Knt., Walter Enderby, Morgan Kydwelly, Thomas Greynvile, Roger Holand, John Heyron, John More, William Twyneho, Richard Elyot & John Michell, to enquire as to concealed lands in Somerset, Dorset, Devon, Cornwall, & Wilts. Dated at Westminster 9 Dec. 9 Hen.VII. [1493]
m.2.  Devon.

Delivered into Court 9 May by Walter Enderby.

Inquisition taken at Exeter 10 Apr. 9 Hen.VII. [1494] before Walter Enderby & John More, by the oath of Richard Pomerey, Knt., William Fortescu, Robert Yeo, Nicholas Yeo, Robert Pomerey, Thomas Wurthe, esquires, John Chamberleyn, John Sawle, William Cosby, John Boudon, Ralph Pudsey, Nicholas Kyrkeham, William Bernehous & William Tankerat: who say that John Keynes was seised of the manor of Wynkelegh Keynes, & by his charter dated 10 June 16 Edw.IV. [1476] enfeoffed thereof William Yeo & Otho Gilbert & their heirs.

At the request of John Keynes they demised the same to said John, Joan his wife, & the heirs of John, by their charter dated 24 Dec. 18 Edw.IV. [1478]. The manor is held of the King’s honour of Gloucester, by knight’s service, worth &c. £10.

Joan survived her husband, & died seised thereof 20 March 8 Hen.VII. [1492/3].

John, son & heir of the said John & Joan, then aged 20.


The IPM into Joan’s death was held later that year. It, too, confirms that John senior was rightfully lord of the manor of Winkleigh Keynes when he died.

KEYNYS, Joan wife of John Keynys.     10 Henry VII [1494]
Chancery Inq.p.m.  Ser.II.  Vol.10. (103).
m.1.  Writ dated at Westminster 26 Aug. 10 Hen.VII. [1494]
m.2.  Devon.

Delivered into Court 18 Nov. by John Kyrton.

Inquisition taken at Exeter, 19 Oct. 10 Hen.VII [1494], before John Takyll, escheator, after the death of Joan Keynes, by the oath of Richard Pomerey, Knt., William Fortescu, Robert Pomerey, John Vautard, John Speccot, esquires, William Wyllford, John Gove, John Boudon, John Lotyn, Richard Leuermore, Richard Wode & Thomas Seman:- who say that John Keynes was seised of the manor of Wynkelegh Keynes, &c.[7]

Joan Keynes died 20 March last past [1493/4].[8]

John, son & heir, then aged 21.


[1] Sir William Pole (d.1635), Collections Towards a Description  of the County of Devon,(1791), p.432.

[2]; IPM John Keynes 1480, [WSL].

[3] IPM Joan wife of John Keynyes 1494.

[4] IPM John Keynes 1494.

[5] IPM John Keynes junior 1420.

[6] IPM John Keynes 1494.

[7] See Ch. Inq.p.m.  Ser.II. Vol.23 (22).  John Keynes.

[8] sic:  “ultimo preterito” written over an erasure.




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