Charlotte image

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)

Sampson  Tree


JOHN CRUWYS was the second son and the youngest child of Alexander Cruwys, lord of the manor of Cruwys Morchard, and his wife Juliana. We do not know his mother’s married name, but she was the widow of John Bromford. He was born about 1381, when his mother was probably about 40 and his father around 50.

His brother Robert was about 14 years older, and he had four older sisters. It was around the time of John’s birth that Robert married.

John was about one year old when his father died and the teenage Robert became lord of the manor. Within a year, their mother Juliana remarried, to Matthew Hordelegh. She probably moved out of Cruwys Morchard House and took John and at least some of his sisters to a new home with their stepfather.

Robert and his wife Margaret produced two sons and two daughters. John grew up with no expectation that he would ever become lord of the manor. His mother was a wealthy woman, acquiring lands as a result of her marriages, but as a younger son, his own future was uncertain.[1]

He was probably still living with his mother in his early 20s. There is a deed dated 1404, ordering John Cruwys, his stepfather Matthew Hordeleigh and others to arrest and bring to gaol at Exeter the King’s enemies attached to Owen Glendower, who were seeking and carrying away arms.[2]

This King was Henry IV, son of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster. He took the throne in 1399, seizing power from his cousin Richard II, who was forced to abdicate. Henry was himself to suffer from constant plots and rebellions. In addition, the Scots and Welsh harried his borders.

Owen Glendower was the last independent prince of Wales. When Richard II was on the throne, Owen had sided with the ambitious Henry. But when Henry came to the throne, his oppressive rule threw the Welsh prince into the arms of his opponents. Chief among these were the Percy family, led by the Duke of Northumberland and his son Hotspur.

1404 saw Owen Glendower’s power at its height. He declared himself the ruler of all Wales and made an alliance with Charles VI of France.  But the tide turned against him the following year and the English gradually reconquered Wales.[3] John Cruwys must have played a small part in his downfall.

In the War of the Roses, later that century, the Cruwys family remained loyal to the house of Lancaster.

Some two years after the expedition against Owen Glendower’s men, around 1406, John’s brother Robert died and his nephew Humphrey inherited the manor. Humphrey was still a minor.

Robert had married in his teens John remained unmarried until his late 20s. Younger sons could not be assured of estates and income, and often had to make their own way in the world. They might go to war in the hope of returning with prize money. We do not know what option John took. The evidence from 1404, coupled with his mother’s independent wealth, means that he was probably able to stay at home.


JOAN. We have no information about her, except her baptismal name.

T.F. Johns places the marriage of John and Joan in 1408, when John would have been about 27.

John’s young nephew Humphrey did not remain lord of the manor for long. He seems to have been dead by 1411. He left no son to succeed him, and the terms of a document John’s father Alexander had drawn up in 1380 provided that, in such a case, the succession should not pass to Humphrey’s brother Robert junior, but to Alexander’s next male heir, his second son John. No doubt he and Joan moved back to Cruwys Morchard House, which he had left as a baby.

It was on 6 May 1411 that Thomas Payne, John Prowse and Robert Cruwys were enfeoffed in the lands of Christine, widow of John Sewy at Widworthy.

About this time, John’s nieces, Thomasine and Elizabeth, together with their husbands, Richard Pollard and William Norton, began what was to become a long-running family feud over the ownership of Ansty Cruwys on the Somerset border. Shortly before the death of John’s father, Alexander, the girls’ maternal grandfather, Walter Cornu, had stolen Alexander’s seal from his bed. He used it to forge a deed transferring ownership of Ansty Cruwys. Only now, with their father Robert and brother Humphrey dead, did the young women and their husbands produce it. Their brother, Robert junior, was Rector of Rackenford, to which the Cruwys family held the right of advowson, from 1413 to 1422. He took no part in the dispute, probably in gratitude to John, who had given him the living.

There is a deed dated 2 Sep 1412, which records that a bond of £100 was given to Walter Pollard and John Prideaux, arbitrators appointed to settle the dispute between Richard Pollard and Thomasine his wife, on the one hand, and John Cruwys on the other, concerning the manors of Ansty Cruwys and Rackenford Parva. A footnote in Richard Polwhele’s History of Devonshire quotes an extract from Dr Howard’s collection of letters, published in 1753, which states that on the back of this deed, dated 1463, is this curious endorsement:

Margaret, wife of Robert Cruwys, was the daughter of Walter Corun. After death of S. John Cruwys enters, and had issue John and Thomas. The said Walter Corun privily took away said Alexander’s seal of arms, unknown to him, and as it lay with his purse under his bed, that while sick, and counterfeited a deed, as it were by the assent of said Alexander, upon the marriage of his daughter, which said Alexander was never privy to, but died while the deed was making, and this deed was of the manor of Cruys-Ansty and Little Rackenforde, to the said Robert Cruys, and Margaret his wife, and their heirs coming between them, and then said Walter kept said false deed, and let it by till Humphry, son of said Robert, was dead without issue. Then came John Cruws, brother of Robert, and uncle to Humphry, by force of a limitation therein mentioned, to the heirs male entered, and upon that entry Richard Pollard, William Norton and their wives, claimed said manors by said false deed, made by said Walter, and upon that a day was set up at Kyrton, before John Copstone and Nicholas Rudeforde [Radford], and there in presence of him, and many other worshipful persons, it was openly proved that said deed was counterfeited, and that there passed no living thereby, and said John and Nicholas would have cancelled and destroyed the said false deed. And said W. Norton and R. Pollard went to them, and besoughte atte the reverence of God not to put them to open shame, and they would be sworne never again claim under said deed, but would stand to their award in all things, and then they would be sworn so to do, and thereupon the award was made in writing.

The hearing at Crediton was still some time in the future. T. F. Johns thinks it likely that in 1413 a truce was reached, whereby Richard Pollard paid John £100, and that the dispute then remained dormant until after John’s death. In the meantime, Thomasine and Elizabeth and their husbands would have enjoyed possession of Ansty Cruwys and Little Rackenford.[4]

That same year, in 1413, King Henry IV died and was succeeded by Henry V. Two years later, the young king won the Battle of Agincourt.

John and Joan had at least four sons, whose approximate birth dates were John 1414, Thomas 1416, Nicholas 1418, William 1420. They had at least one daughter, but we do not know her name.[5]

John’s mother, Juliana, was a wealthy woman, doing well from her dower lands. When her third husband died, before 1416, she was still not short of suitors, despite her advancing years. She married for a fourth time, to John Lee. There are a number of deeds in which she grants lands either to her son John Cruwys, or to her grandson of that name. There are discrepancies in dates in Margaret Cruwys’s A Cruwys Morchard Notebook, which make it difficult to be sure who is being referred to.[6]

John’s more peaceable nephew, “Robert Cruwys, clerk (clergyman)”, was one of four trustees who presented an incumbent to Cruwys Morchard in 1418. John himself held the patronage of Rackenford, and presented a new incumbent when Robert died in 1422. John evidently shared the advowson of the disputed East Anstey, because he and his nieces’ husbands, Richard Pollard and William Norton, are all named as presenting a priest there in 1426.[7]

In 1422 Henry V died and was succeeded by his one-year-old son Henry VI. The month before, he had also succeeded to the throne of France. The French claim was disputed. After French victories, Charles VII was crowned at Reims in 1429. The ten-year-old Henry was crowned in Paris in 1431.

John Cruwys was lord of the manor of Cruwys Morchard for about nineteen years. He died in 1430 and was succeeded by his young son John, aged 16. History repeated itself. John junior died in his thirties, without an heir, and the manor passed to John and Joan’s second son Thomas.[8]

Joan survived John by at least 17 years. She evidently took over some of his rights of advowson. In 1438 and 1441 we find “Joan, relict of John Cruwys of Morchard, presented to East Anstey” and in 1447 “Nicholas Radford, by donation of Johanna, widow of John Cruwys, presented to Rackenford. Thomas Cruwys, son and heir of John Cruwys, confirmed.”[9] Joan had lived long enough to see her eldest son die and his brother Thomas succeed him.


[1] T.F.Johns, Crewes of South Cornwall and their ancestors in Liskeard, Cornwall, and Cruwys Morchard, Devon. p.11. [WSL].
[2] M.C.S. Cruwys. Records at Cruwys Morchard. Trans. Dev. Asscn. Vol 84, 1952. 1-19
[3]. ‘Henry IV’, Encyclopaedia Britannica.
[4] Johns, pp.16-18.
[5] Johns, p.9.
[6] Margaret C.S. Cruwys. A Cruwys Morchard Notebook. 1066-1874. 1936.
[7] F.B. Prideaux, ‘Cruwys of Morchard and East Anstey’, Devon and Cornwall Notes and Queries, Vol    13, 1924-5, pp.134-137.
[8] Cruwys, A Cruwys Morchard Notebook
[9] Prideaux.




Sampson Tree