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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)



Burke’s Landed Gentry (1858) says of the Southcomb family of Rose Ash:

It appears from records in the possession of the family, that they are derived from that of Combe de la Combe, in the co. of Somerset, whence they removed, and at an early period settled in the co. of Devon in many parts of which they have held possessions beyond what they still enjoy. Westcote, who wrote his View of Devonshire in the latter part of Queen Elizabeth’s reign, mentions their having held demesne lands in Cheldon, which, before he wrote, had passed to the family of May. Westcote’s statement is confirmed by the family pedigree. We next find them holding lands in Satterleigh, where in 1574, George Southcomb m Maria Pawlett; and in Marley or Mariansleigh, where Robert Southcomb, Gent., who m Eleanor, dau of John Cruwys, of Cruwys Morchard, Esq. appears in the list of free tenants made by Hoker temp ELIZABETH. Until the year 1823 they possessed lands in Holcombe Burnell and appear to have been connected with the adjoining parish of Dunsford, the will of Joan Southcomb of Dunsford having been proved in the principal Register Office at Exeter, in the year 1601, George S, lost.

Arms: Arg. a chevron erm, between three roses, gu.
Crest: A dove holding in its beak an olive branch, all ppr.


Helen Saunders, in a lecture to the Devonshire Association, gives the date of their arrival as 1550, but cites no evidence for this. There were certainly Southcombes in Devon before that.

There is reason to believe that Henry Hyll alias Southcombe is probably the father of Hugh Southcombe, who died in 1539. In 1493 Henry and his heirs received a grant of lands from his brother John. There is a considerable overlap between this list of properties and those held by Hugh at his death.

Information from Hugh’s Inquisition Post Mortem suggests that he was born around 1470.  This would put Henry’s birth around 1445.  This was the reign of Henry VI, when Richard of York was the heir presumptive to the throne, before the birth of Prince Edward, which was to lead to the Wars of the Roses later that century.

The earliest record of Henry found so far is the Inquisition Post Mortem of John Radford, esq, who died on 21 Nov 1478. The IPM for his Devon estates was taken at Exeter on 21 April, 1479, the 19th year of the reign of Edward IV. In listing John Radford’s properties, it says that Thomas Kympelond, Henry Hill, otherwise Southcomb, Richard Hunt and Robert Grendon severally held an estate consisting of 4 messuages and 3 carucates, which were a parcel of the manor of Poughill. It had been demised to Joan, daughter of Gilbert Yerde, esq, for her life. It had been previously been one of the properties of John Radford’s father, Judge Nicholas Radford, who was murdered at Upcote Barton, Cheriton Fitzpaine, in 1455. The lands had been released “to John Radforde & his heirs for ever.”  It is not yet clear how Henry was related to the Radfords.

Henry would have been around 40 when we next hear of him in a deed dated the Friday before the Exaltation of the Cross, 9 Henry VII [13 September 1493][1]. It concerns the brothers John and Henry Hyll alias Southcombe. John is presumably the elder brother. He is making a grant of considerable lands in Devon to Henry and his heirs. Possibly John was in ill health and likely to die without an heir. Rather than wait until his death, he may have been handing on the family property to Henry, who was better able to administer it.

In this deed, John, and therefore presumably Henry, is said to be the kinsman and heir of Thomas Radford. The relationship is not stated. It may be that their mother was a Radford. We know from leases to the property of Binneford in Stockleigh English that the Bynneford family had sold these lands to Nicholas Radford in 1423.[2] In 1454 the owners were Robert Wilford, John Way and John Radford.[3] Presumably Thomas Radford was the son of John Radford.

Henry was presumably the second son.

We may speculate that he married in the 1460s or early 70s.


MAUD.  We do not have proof of the identity of Henry’s wife. But there may be a clue in the 16th century Lay Subsidy Rolls for Devon. These assessed householders for tax in the reign of Henry VIII. The records have not survived for all parishes, but of the surviving assessments in the 1524-7 returns there are only two Southcombes listed as being taxed for land. One is Hugh Southcombe of Crediton, taxed in 1524 at L8. The other is Maud Southcombe of Chawleigh, assessed in 1524 at L1. A comparison of the properties Hugh held at his death, and those which John Hyll alias Southcombe granted to his brother Henry in 1493 shows a considerable overlap. This suggests that Hugh was Henry’s son. Hugh’s IPM shows that his largest estate was in Cheldon, where Westcote, in his View of Devonshire  particularly mentions the Southcombes’ demesnes. Chawleigh is the adjacent parish. It is listed among the places where Henry Hyll alias Southcombe held land. It seems reasonable to believe that Maud may have been the widow of Henry and the mother of Hugh.

This would place Henry’s death before 1524.


The Southcombes mentioned in the rolls range from Kenton, on the seaward side of the Haldon Hills, to Mariansleigh, on the edge of what was then Witheridge Moor. The distribution, from south to north, was as follows:





Kenton John



G 5

G 20


Dunsford Edward


G 4


Spreyton Richard
Crediton Hugh L 8
Down St Mary Richard W 1
Broadwoodkelly Richard
Iddesleigh John
Chawleigh Maud L 1
Meshaw William W 1

G = goods, L = land, W = wages. The amount is the annual income in £s.


We do not know what other children Henry and Maud may have had, if indeed they are Hugh’s parents. Some of those listed in the more northerly parishes, may be theirs, though they could also be Hugh’s, and therefore Maud and Henry’s grandchildren.

Down St Mary lies between Crediton and Chawleigh. Richard, who is taxed in that parish, could be the son of Maud or of Hugh, or neither. Hugh certainly had a son William, who would have been in his 20s in that subsidy roll, and could be the William of Meshaw. Or this William, too, might be Maud’s son.


Their older children would already have been grown up by 1493, when Henry’s brother John handed over a large number of estates to him and his heirs.[4]

(1) John Hyll (alias Southcombe), kinsman and heir of Thomas Radford.
(2) Henry Hyll (alias Southcombe), brother of (1).
Manor of Poughill and all lands of (1) in Poughill, Uppcote, [in Witheridge?], Uppehome, Trendelmore, Bareheyss, Witheridge, Minchendown [in Woolfardiworthy in Witheridge Hundred], Stickeridge [in Cruwys Morchard] Binneford [in Stockleigh English], East Chedeldon [Cheldon], Newland [in Witheridge]. Radeford [? Raddiford in Puddington], Langlegh, Granytlond, Crispin Down [Winkleigh], Cadeleigh, Stockleigh, Luscombe, Stockleigh English, Sutton Sachville, Winkleigh Tracy, and Chalvelegh [Chawleigh].
Recites that the premises are granted to (2) and to his heirs in perpetuity, but subject to a rent of 10 marks, payable to (1) during the life of (1).
Fragmentary seal of (1).


The following year, Henry leased one of these properties to the Radfords, with whom the Southcombes were frequently involved.[5]

20 January 9 Henry VII [1494]

Lease (? or counterpart), for 80 years or 3 lives.

(1) Henry Southcombe.
(2) William Radford, Agnes his wife, and Richard their son.
All lands and messuages of (1) in Oakford, East Tapps, and Spurway.
Rent: 3s. 4d.
Lives: the lessees.
Attached are 3 seals, one showing an animal (possibly a rabbit), the remaining 2 showing merchant’s marks.


Confusingly, the same year we find a similar lease in John’s name, granting land in the parish of Oakford to William and Alice Radford and their son Richard.[6] It is likely that this should be dated 1493.

Lease  1494

John Southcombe, kinsman and heir of John Radford late of Upcote to William and Alice Radford and their son Richard.
“Okeford Estaps” [East Tapps] and Oke Spray, with haybote, housebote, firebote and foldebote. Timber excepted
Term: 80 years.
Rent: 13s 4d


These properties were owned by Henry’s son Hugh in 1539.

In these leases John and Henry are both surnamed Southcombe, without the alias Hyll.


Maud died before the Subsidy Rolls of 1544. If she was born around 1450, she would already have been of a good age in 1524.


[1] A2A: Shelley of Shobrooke (DRO)  Z1/48/20
[2] A2A: Shelley of Shobrooke (DRO)  Z1/30/15&16
[3] A2A: Shelley of Shobrooke (DRO)  Z1/30/17
[4] A2A: Shelley of Shobrooke (DRO)  Z1/48/20
5] A2A: Shelley of Shobrooke (DRO)  Z1/21/1
[6] A2A: 1186M/L 1  




Sampson Tree