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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 WHITINGE was the eldest son of John Whitinge and Joan Kirkham.[1] Sir William Pole says that his mother was Alice Kirkham, but he has confused her with John senior’s first wife, Alice Hake.[2]

There was an earlier son, also called John, by this first marriage.

John, son of John and Joan, was born in 1408, the year Percy, Earl of Northumberland, was killed leading a rebellion against Henry IV.  He had at least one sister, Juliana.

John’s father was lord of the manor of Woode in Kentisbeare, and owner of many other estates. John would have grown up at Woode manor house.


On his father’s death in 1428, John inherited the considerable Whiting estates and became lord of the manor of Woode. From the dates given in the Whiting pedigree by Richard Whiting, John would appear to have been 20 when his father died, but Whiting’s text gives his age as about 24.

His older half-brother John had married into the Browne family of Essex. John’s widowed mother made a second marriage with another of this family. Thomas Browne lived at Abbess Roding in Essex, between Harlow and Chelmsford, and Joan made her new home there. This, in turn, was to lead to John choosing a wife from Essex. It is unusual to find an ancestor on the Sampson side of our family from outside the West Country.


AGNES TORRELL was the daughter of Thomas Torrell and Katherine Beauchamp, of Torrells Hall in Willingale Doe, Essex. At one time her father was Sheriff of Essex and Hertfordshire. He was descended from a long line of Torrells who held the ceremonial office of Serjeant Naperer at the king’s coronation. Her mother was the daughter of Lord Beauchamp of Bletsoe in Bedforshire.

She had at least one brother, John, who is cited erroneously by Pole as her father.

Willingale Doe is only three miles from Abbess Roding, where John’s mother made her home after her second marriage. Agnes no doubt met John when he visited the Brownes there.


Agnes and John seem to have married in the late 1420s, when England and France were at war over the sovereignty of French territory.

Their eldest son Robert was born in 1430. There were also two daughters, Joanna and Ann.


John’s father had been granted a licence in 1408 to hold divine service at Woode. On 3 Mar 1435 the Bishop of Exeter granted a new licence to Thomas Baker, rector of Kentisbeare, to celebrate divine service in the chapel of St Anne at the manor.

It was probably this John Whitinge who, in 1436, arranged a quitclaim with William Porter in exchange for a grant of parcels of land in Heavitree.[3] On 4 Oct 1437 William Porter quitclaimed to John all his rights to common pasture on the lands owned by John at Ringswell. In return, John granted him the lease of lands on the moor nearby. John’s uncle, Henry Whiting, witnessed the deed.

From 1437-39 there was litigation in the Mayor’s Court at Exeter to recover from John and others a house in the city. The property had been held by John and his associates on behalf of a third party. Richard Whiting says the action may have been a legal fiction in order to convey property to the plaintiff, the Master of St John’s Hospital.

In 1438 we have the last documentary reference to Woode’s chapel. On 31 March a licence was granted to John Crugge, previously rector of St Leonards in Exeter, who had recently been inducted into the living at Kentisbeare, to celebrate divine service in the chapel of St Mary in the manor of Woode on the saint’s feast day. The previous licence had been for the chapel of St Anne. Either one of the names was a mistake, or the chapel had been rededicated, though there is no mention of this in the Bishop’s Register.

The family chapel appears to have been demolished a century later at the Reformation.

The following year we see John and his rector John Crugge witnessing a property deed for John Walrond, the Whitings’ near neighbour at Bradfield.


Agnes’s father, Thomas Torrell died in Essex in 1442, leaving Agnes’s brother John as his heir at the age of 15. John Whiting and Richard Shiply handed over custody of the young John Torrell until he came of age to Thomas Browne, John Whiting’s stepfather, who also lived in Essex. He was clerk of the Bench.

In 1443, we find John leasing the Heavitree property of 30 acres to Nicholas Mountsteven of Wonford for 26 years.[4] The annual rent was 9s. John Whiting’s seal is affixed to this deed. It is a W in a rope-edged octagonal design. This suggests that the original heraldic seal used by Nicholas Whiting in the 14th century had gone astray. It may have been retained for safe-keeping by John’s mother when she married Thomas Browne.


On 11 July 1444, John, together with his step-father Thomas Browne, John Gambon, John Holbeme, from his grandmother’s family, and John More, was appointed custodian of Robert, son and heir of Robert Kirkham of Blagdon. John’s mother was the daughter of an older Robert Kirkham. Young Robert died unmarried in 1451. He was succeeded by his brother Nicholas, described at his death as ‘a lunatic with lucid intervals’.

Family affairs were closely intertwined. On 4 Mar 1445. John Torrell, probably Agnes’s brother, and John Orchard of Bideford committed to John Whiting lands at Madford, Corwell and Mackham in Hemyock. These had reverted to the Crown when Sir William de Hasthorp died without heirs. The deed required John to maintain the buildings and enclosures. The previous owner had been John Hake, citizen and draper of London. He was undoubtedly a member of the Devon Hake family, who were granted these lands in 1438. John’s father’s first wife had been Alice Hake.

Property transactions continued. On 18 Aug that year, John Furneaux and his son William quitclaimed their rights to land at Newland and Cullompton to John Whiting.

On 5 Oct 1446, Sir Henry Bonville gave John Whiting and John More all the messuages he owned in Cockinghaye in Buckerell in perpetuity.

Next year, John, together with Baldwin and Thomas Browne, John More and John Torrell, was granted the manor of Alverton in Somerset by William More of Nailsea, with descent to Baldwin’s heirs. It was a devious way of conveying the manor to Baldwin Browne.

19 Oct 1449 saw John quitclaiming the messuage in Cockinghayes with the reversion of Forde in Uffculme, to Sir William Bonville.

In 1455 a longstanding dispute between the Earl of Devon and Sir William Bonville over the stewardship of the Duchy of Cornwall came to a head. Nicholas Radford of Sampford Peverell, Sir William Bonville’s attorney, was murdered by Sir William Courtenay, the Earl’s son. Two days later the two sides fought at Clyst Heath. Bonville was defeated and driven back to Exeter. The Earl and his son followed. They looted the Cathedral, holding the canons to ransom. John’s uncle Henry Whiting was involved in the affair. Sir William Bonville was his godson and Nicholas Radford his neighbour.

In 1458, John gave the copyhold of a tenement and land on his manor of Upton Prodhome to his tenant Elias Smith and his son William, who were living there. In 1460, he signed a 100-year lease on Playsset Park, in the manor of Upton Prodham and the parish of Payhambury, to Elias Smyth and John his son.[5] The lands of Upton Prodhomme had been brought into the family by the marriage of Margaret Prodhome to Nicholas Whiting a century earlier.

John and Agnes’s daughter Joanna married John Fry, one of the celebrated Fry family of Yarty.

1461 saw the House of Lancaster defeated in the Wars of the Roses and 19-year-old King Edward IV take the throne for the House of York.

On 24 July that year, John was commissioned by the Crown to organise a muster of ships and victuals in East Devon, together with the Bishop of Exeter and William Duke, in preparation for war with France. He was instructed to appoint collectors of money and supplies and to pay their fees himself.

His property interests around Kentisbeare extended into the parishes of Uffculme and Cullompton. He acted in association with other neighbouring landowners. In 1464, Robert Wyllesford, Nicholas Pyne, John Gambon and John Whiting held property in Uffculme and Cullompton for John Walrond, esq.

Next year, on the feast of St Peter, these same men gave John Walrond seisin of all the lands they held for him. [6]


John Whytyng made his will in 1465. [7]  He died in 1466, in his late 50s.


We do not know whether Agnes was already dead or survived him.


[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.org.uk: DRO:1926 B/W/ET/8/1
[4] A2A.org.uk: DRO:1926 B/W/ET/8/2
[5] A2A.org.uk: DRO:1926 B/W/ET/12/1
[6] A2A.org.uk: DRO:1926 B/W/ET/14/14
[7] A2A.org.uk: DRO:DD\SF/314





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