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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)



WILLIAM AYSHFORD was the son and heir of William Ayshford of Ayshford in Burlescombe and the wealthy heiress Emma Ferrars of Churston near Brixham.[1] His parents were married around 1400, so we can assume that William junior was born at the start of the 15th century.


JOAN CARY was the daughter of Sir William Cary and Jane Hankford.

Heather Ayshford writes that this family was “much concerned with support for the House of Lancaster when it, in the shape of Henry Bolingbroke, usurped the throne from Richard II in 1400. If he gave the political question any attention at all, William [Ayshford] might have recalled that it was Richard’s council who had sold his grandfather’s rights to the predatory Percehay.” This is a reference to the time when that older William Ayshford had been a ward of the king, after his father died when William was still an infant.

Joan Cary’s family, on the other hand had been loyal supporters of King Richard. When Richard was removed from power by the Lords Appellant, Joan’s grandfather Sir John Cary was convicted of treason and exiled to Ireland. Her father Robert Cary was similarly accused of plotting against Henry IV, but escaped punishment because of the influence of his brother-in-law Richard Courtenay, Bishop of Norwich. He subsequently earned the favour of King Henry.

William and Joan’s lives were lived out in the reigns of Henry IV, V and VI. In 1415, after a 14-year truce, the long war with France revived. Henry V tried to end it by the Treaty of Troyes, which proposed that he marry Catherine, daughter of the French king Charles VI, and become heir to the French throne. But the South of France backed the Dauphin, and Henry V died in 1422. Joan of Arc helped the Dauphin to victory at Orleans. The Hundred Years War finally ended in 1453, with the English surrender of Bordeaux.

Heather Ayshford goes on to say: “The old pedigrees give Margaret Cotterell as the mother of William’s two sons John and William, but there is some difficulty with this since Joanna Cary was still alive in 1438 and John the heir was born before 1441 and his younger brother William was ordained a priest around 1448 when he should have been at least 25. Perhaps the records are defective.” She does not quote the document of 1438 which proves that Joanna was still alive.


On the death of Joanna, sometime after 1438, William married again, to Margaret Cotterell.


It is hard to know when William’s father died and he took over the Ayshford inheritance. There is a reference in the Register of Bishop Edmund Lacy to the institution of a priest for Thurlestone in 1442. One of the patrons then is William Ayshford, husband of the deceased Emma Ferrers and therefore father of this younger William. Another record in 1448 concerns the clerk (priest) “William Ayshford junior”, who is the younger son of William and Joanna, not Joanna’s husband. This may imply that the eldest William had died by 1448.[2]

References  between these dates could be to either man.

On 22 Feb 1445/6, following the death of Master William Gambone, Sir Nicholas Stockere, chaplain, was instituted to the living of Thurlestone. The ceremony was performed at Chudleigh in the person of Edward Hylle, clerk, his Proctor; patrons, Richard Yerde and William Ayssheforde.

This appointment only lasted a few months. Following the resignation of Nicholas Stockere, William travelled to Bishop’s Tawton for the institution of his successor, Sir John Yerd, subdeacon, on 3 Sep 1446. Patrons again: Richard Yerde and William Aysschforde.

Two years later, the incumbent Sir John Yerd died. Having favoured the Yerde family last time, the patrons now gave the living to an Ayshford, William’s younger son. On 19 June 1448 William Aysshforde, junior, clerk, was instituted into the Thurlestone living at Radeway, in the person of Thomas Hays, substitute of John More, his Original Proctor. Patrons: Richard Yerde and William Aysshforde,

This act of nepotism, however, led to disgrace. On 28 April 1453 the revenues of the rector William Ayssheford, were sequestered by the bishop because of the dilapidated state of his houses. Provision was made for a chaplain to have the care of the parish.[3]


It may have been in this William’s time that the 15th century parish church at Burlescombe was built, on the site of an older one. This image on the churchyard wall facing the church door was a perpetual reminder of mortality.


[1] Source, except where otherwise stated: F. & H. Ayshford, Notes Towards a History of the Ayshford Family of Devon. Typescript booklet.
[2] Register of Edmund Lacy
[3] Register of Edmund Lacy.





Sampson Tree