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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)



ROBERT WHITYNG was the eldest son of John Whityng, lord of the manor of Woode in Kentisbeare, and Agnes Torrell from Willingale Doe in Essex.[1] His will mentions silver decorated with the image of cows. This may have come into the Whiting family from his mother, whose family coat of arms and crest featured the faces of bulls.

Robert was born in 1430. The following year, Joan of Arc raised the siege of Orleans in a successful bid to have the Dauphin Charles crowned king of France, and overturn English claims to French territory.

There is a possibility that Robert was educated at Stapledon College in Oxford, as one of the founder’s kin. After his death, his sons procured the services of a Doctor of Divinity at Oxford, and this may be the connection.

As a young man, Robert saw the end of the Hundred Years War, when England lost most of its possessions in France. This was followed immediately by the War of the Roses, when Richard of York and his son Edward sought to wrest power from the Lancastrian King Henry VI. We do not know for certain which side the Whitings took, but there are indications that they were viewed favourably by the House of York.


ISABELL CLIVEDON. Sir William Pole describes her as ‘daughter and coheire of John Clivedon’.[2] His wife, Isabell’s mother, was Alice.[4]

Her father was lord of the manor of Zeals Clevedon in the Wiltshire parish of Woodborough. She was the youngest of three sisters.


From the date of their children’s births, Robert and Isabell appear to have married around 1460. That was the year when the Earl of Warwick, the most powerful man in the kingdom, turned against Edward IV and supported Margaret of Anjou, queen of the deposed and imprisoned Henry VI. For a year, the Lancastrian King Henry was reinstated, but he only reigned for another year.  Warwick was killed at the Battle of Barnet, Queen Margaret’s forces were crushed at Tewkesbury, and King Henry died in the Tower. The Yorkist rule was confirmed.

In 1461, Robert’s father was commissioned by the king to muster ships in East Devon for the war with France, so he was presumably in good standing with the House of York.

At home, this was a time when there was much lawlessness among the gentry. With the highest powers in the land occupied elsewhere, local squires could do pretty much as they liked without royal interference.


Their eldest son George was born in 1462. He was followed by Christopher, 1472, Elizabeth, John, 1474, Jane, and James, around 1480.

At his father’s death in 1466, Robert became a landed squire himself, having the manor of Woode, with the Whiting family mansion in Kentisbeare, and the manor of Proudhomisle, also in East Devon, as well as extensive estates in five counties and a house at Stratford atte Bowe in London. He added to these estates half the manor of Tresparret in Cornwall for £50, buying the other half from Thomas Greenfield.


Throughout his lifetime, Robert was involved in managing the property of other gentlemen through the system of enfeoffment, where trustees were appointed to look after estates. In 1475, Robert and others were enfeoffed in the lands of John Hough. On 12 June 1479, Robert, with William Milford, a lawyer of South Devon and London, committed to the custody of John More the lands of William Bampfield, who had recently died. They were to be held during the minority of William Bampfield’s son Andrew. Robert was living at his London house when the papers were signed. We know from his will that he had many dealings with his neighbours there. He acted as a moneylender, accepting pledges of silver and clothing.

From 1480 we have a receipt for rents due from Robert Whytyng to Wilton Abbey, Wiltshire.[5] In the next century, Robert’s granddaughter, Jane Whiting, became a nun at Wilton.

The manor of Wonford, just outside Exeter, was held jointly by Robert Whiting and Otho Gilbert. In 1481 these two granted a lease for 80 years on lands and tenements in St Loyes to four sidesmen. The sidesmen would have made smaller grants of these properties to individual tenants. Shortly afterwards, Otho Gilbert died. Robert and others, as trustees of his lands, granted premises in Heavitree to Richard and John Wayte. Similarly next year, as feoffees of John Dynham, Robert and others delivered seisin of lands at Fleete Lucy in Lincoln to John Dynham’s heir.

In 1483, Robert is described as a knight when he witnessed a deed in Totnes. He frequently visited Totnes and did business there. In 1500, the borough owed him 20s.

Otho Gilbert’s son and heir died that year. Robert was one of those who administered the will. Otho’s widow, Catherine, later married Walter Ralegh and became the mother of Sir Walter Ralegh.

In 1485, the first Tudor king, Henry VII took the throne, after defeating and killing Richard III at Bosworth Field.

On 24 October that year, John Drake leased three houses and 140 acres of land in Axminster to John Spyne and Robert Whiting. On 17 November, the two re-granted these to Richard Frankcheyne, with reversion to John Drake. That same year, John Byconnell enfeoffed Sir Giles Daubenay, Sir William Courtenay and Robert Whiting in his manors in South Devon, to hold for his use.

Robert rented a toft and 100 acres of land at Over Yea and Nether Yea, in Payhembury, to William Malherbie, lord of Feniton manor. The annual rent was a pound of pepper. Robert was a trustee of William’s lands. After William died, he transferred them to the daughter Johanne.

On 27 1495, his son George was enfeoffed with William and Henry Walrond, John and Maurice More, and John Kirkham, in the Devon lands of John Keynes. The Whitings intermarried with most of these families. George, with John Kirkham and others, recovered land at Totnes and Teignmouth from John Rowe, serjeant-at-law, who was another relative. The case was heard at Westminster by means of a fine, or settlement.

Robert was also trustee, with John More and Humphrey Courtenay, of lands and premises in Tiverton, for Thomas Boys, who died in 1496. Robert Whiting, John Ashford and Robert Gambon were enfeoffed by John Bere and William Daly in lands at Zeal Monachorum and Cullompton. On 12 April 1496 they passed these to John Knollys and his wife Anne for her lifetime.

As the eldest son, George was brought up in the expectation that he would be a landed gentleman, inheriting the Whiting estates. On 14 July 1487, at the age of 25, he was one of the feoffees, together with William Walrond, Thomas Greenfield and John More, entrusted with the lands of Robert Batyn. Robert witnessed the deed. George may also have been the executor of the will of John Bernfield of Essex in 1497. There was a link to this Essex family through Robert’s mother, Agnes Torrell.

Meanwhile, the youngest son James was being prepared for a very different life. A file relating to other documents about the Devon Whitings has the indenture of apprenticeship in 1488 of Jas. Whityng, son of Robt.W., gent., to John […], citizen and skinner of London, for 10 years.[6] We know that the family had property in London, at Stratford atte Bowe, and that Robert was frequently there. This younger son was expected to make his way there, rather than in the south-west, where the older sons would inherit estates. James was probably about eight when he was indentured.

The third son John also became a wool merchant, but he remained in Devon.


By charter dated 29 Sept. 5 1489, Robert enfeoffed a number of men to take responsibility for all his Devon estates except Woode. Such arrangements were sometimes made to evade taxation.

His bailey was John Walrond, yet another member of the landed family whose senior branch were near neighbours of the Whitings at Bradfield mansion in Uffculme. Robert himself appears from his will to have kept very detailed accounts of all his transactions, both the money he owed and the many debts others owed him. Some of these documents were held at his London house. Many more were in a coffer in Exeter. He was very anxious that these affairs should be properly settled after his death, with pledges returned to their owners if the debts were paid.


Sometime in the 1480s or 1490s, Isabell died. A painted oak shield in the Whiting aisle of Kentisbeare church shows the arms of her Clevedon family, together with the Whiting arms. Robert married again to Elizabeth, whose maiden name is thought to be Hake. The first wife of Robert’s grandfather, John Whiting, was Alice Hake. Two uninscribed shields in the Whiting aisle show marriages to female members of the Hake family. The mention of a stepson Rowe in Robert’s will suggests that at the time of their marriage Elizabeth was the widow of William Rowe.

Elizabeth herself is only mentioned in Robert’s will with the provision for prayers to be said for her soul and that of his first wife Isabell. We may therefore assume that she, too, predeceased Robert.


Robert, his son George, William Ashford and John Kirkham were patrons of the rectory of Washfield, a village near Tiverton. On 10 May 1500, they presented John Turney to the vacant incumbency.

George, the heir, was then still unmarried at the age of 38. He moved to Shaftesbury, in Dorset. No doubt Robert intended that he should oversee the Whiting estates in Dorset and Wiltshire.

But soon after, on 9 Sept 1500, Robert died, leaving George as heir to his lands and manors. His second son Christopher was given a life interest in 108 acres. All four sons were named as executors of his will. They were instructed to find a discreet Doctor of Divinity and find from him how best to discharge Robert’s obligation of religious services owed to his uncle John Torrell, of Willinghale in Essex, who died in 1468. Why the priest was to be from Oxford is not clear, hence the supposition that Robert may have gone to Stapledon College.

Writs were issued for inquisitions into his lands to be held in Devon, Cornwall, Somerset, Dorset and Wiltshire. But two months later, George died without issue, before he could be confirmed as possessing these estates. They went instead to the second son Christopher. However, he, too died the following year, also without issue. Against all expectations, it was Robert and Isabell’s third son, the wool merchant John, who succeeded to his wealth and lands, becoming lord of the manor of Woode.

Robert’s will refers to a number of written agreements he had made with another John Whiting, a cousin from a cadet branch of the family. Robert had evidently made him loans amounting to over £100, a large sum of money in those days. Robert bequeathed the money owed to his two younger sons, John and James, but it is unlikely they ever saw it.


In 1510, Robert and Isabell’s daughter Elizabeth married Thomas Payne, gent. The marriage settlement required him to give her lands in Somerset having a yearly income of at least £20, in return for a payment from her brother John of £100.[7] The following year, a deed of feoffment, detailing these lands, includes the names of both her surviving brothers John and James Whitynge.[8]

Their other daughter Jane married Walter Reynall.

There is no record of James marrying, and he, too, probably died without issue.


[1] Source, except where otherwise stated: Richard Whiting. Whiting of Wood: A Mediaeval Landed Family

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

[3] a2a: DD\WHb/2190

[4] a2a: DD\WHb/2174

[5] A2A. org.uk: DRO: 1926 B/W/E/30/6

[6] A2A. org.uk: DRO: DD\SF/1520

[7] A2A. org.uk: DRO: AC/D/11/40

[8] A2A. org.uk: DRO: AC/D/11/41





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