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)
THOMAS TORRELL and KATHERINE BEAUCHAMP (19)
THOMAS TORRELL. Richard Whiting says that John Whitinge of Kentisbeare in Devon married Agnes, daughter of Thomas and Katherine Torrell in the late 1420s. Sir William Pole confirms this by saying that John Whiting married Agnes sister of John Torrell of Wellinghall, in Essex. “Wellinghall” is Willingale Doe. This it is certainly credible. After his father’s death, John Whitinge’s mother left Devon to marry Thomas Browne of Abbess Roding in Essex. This could well have brought John into contact with the Torrells of Willingale Doe, only 3 miles south of Abbess Roding.
We have no other record of Thomas and Katherine having a daughter Agnes, but they certainly had a son John. Daughters are often missing from the records.
Thomas was the eldest, and perhaps the only son of Richard Torel of Torrells Hall in West Thurrock, on the Thames estuary, and his wife Alice. He was born around 1396, towards the end of the reign of Richard II.
At the end of the 14th century, the family moved 17 mile north, initially to the inland parish of Shellow Bowells, west of Chelmsford. The move may well have been motivated by severe flooding in the Thames estuary, which we know affected the Torel lands.
Thomas was probably still an infant.
They built a new Torrells Hall in the neighbouring parish of Willingale Doe. Their old home in West Thurrock became known as Home Farm.
The present day Torrell’s Hall dates from the late 16th century but is believed to overlie its medieval predecessor. It stands 1,1000 yards NNE of St Christopher’s church.
Willingale Doe adjoins Willingale Spain. The two parishes each had a church, with adjacent churchyards.
Torrell’s Hall is one of two manors in Willingale Doe.
Nearby is a small moated site. It is too small to contain a large building, but there may have been an associated outbuilding, such as a dovecote or a lodge, in the grounds of the medieval Torrell’s Hall.
Thomas’s father died in 1405, when Thomas was only 8 years old. He was heir to his father’s estates, but was too young to take up his inheritance immediately and became a ward of the king. King Henry IV appointed Joan de Bohun Countess of Hereford, Gerard Braybroke and William Marny, knights, Thomas Feryby and Roger Haldenby, clerks (clergymen), and John Bray of Felstede to be guardians of his lands until he came of age. They had to provide “sustenance for the heir”. They also had the right to determine whom Thomas should marry.
Richard Torel also held the manors of Estcourt and Westcourt in Bepton, Sussex. This united manor was held during Thomas’s minority by John and Walter Tyrrell, who may well have been of the Torrell family .
When he died in 1428, Thomas Torrell was returned as holding 1 knight’s fee in Bepton.
Thomas also inherited two-thirds of the manor of Little Thurrock in Essex, which his father had held by virtue of his service in the king’s household as Serjeant Naperer. His duties consisted of overseeing the royal table linen on the occasion of the coronation.
Young Thomas inherited this role, which had been in the family since at least as far back as 1130.
Thomas attained his majority when he reached the of age of 21 in 1417. Proof of age had to be established before he could claim his inheritance. Witnesses were called upon who said that they could remember the day of his birth.
His inheritance spanned several counties. He held the ancestral manor of Torrells in Little Thurrock, Essex, as well as the adjacent West Thurrock, Stifford and two-thirds of Shellow Bowells, as well as Willingale Doe and Roding Berners in Essex, the manors of Eastcourt and Westcourt in Bepton, West Sussex, Bertrams in Standon, Hertforshire.
Like many generations before him, Thomas’s father had held his lands in Little Thurock in return for the service of Serjeant of Napery at the king’s coronation, with a value of £8. Thomas, too, held this hereditary office of Serjeant Naperer.
KATHERINE BEAUCHAMP was the daughter of Sir Roger Beauchamp, Lord of Bletsoe in Bedfordshire and his wife Mary. Her father was one of the richest men in the county, and one time Member of Parliament for Bedfordshire and Sheriff of Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire
The marriage shows that the Torrells’ social circle was not confined to Essex.
The couple had a son John, born around 1423.
There was also a daughter Agnes.
In 1428 Thomas Torrell, following the example of his father-in-law, served as Sheriff of Essex and Hertfordshire.
Katherine died on 6 Nov 1436, and was buried in St Christopher’s church.
Thomas died in 1442. He was aged abut 46. He left his son John, aged 19, as his heir.
“In the church of St Christopher in Willingale Doe there is a brass effigy, slightly mutilated, on the north wall of the chancel. It shows Thomas Torrell, Esquire, in armour with a shield, dated around 1442. The inscription plate and three other shields have been lost.”
“ Suckling, writing in 1845, describes this brass as lying on the floor of the nave which would mean that it has been relocated to the chancel wall at some time. Sir Thomas Torrell lies buried beside his father and wife Katherine near to where the statue of Our Lady now stands. This interesting effigy is of a type represented by only one other example in the county. The slab to which the brass is affixed is large, measuring 91½ by 35 inches. The effigy, which is 37 inches high, represents the warrior in the complete plate armour of the period. The head is bare and the hair has the appearance of being brushed up. Gauntlets cover the hands. The feet rest upon the back of a crouching hound, which looks up into its master’s face. The lower portion of the sword and the hind quarters of the hound are broken off and lost. The inscription has been long lost. Of the four shields, only that in the lower left corner remains bearing the arms of Beauchamp. Another shield existed around the beginning of the eighteenth century.”
“A note in Holman’s Manuscripts states that , “the effigy must represent a member of the Torrell family, as appears by those Escutcheons which remain, viz., on the Dexter Corner, at the top of the Stone, Torrell, impaling a Fess charged with a mullet between 6 martlets [for Beauchamp], and this impaylement is alone in an Escutcheon at the Sinister corner below.” The appearance of the arms of Torrell and Beauchamp on the brass serve to identify the effigy as that of Thomas Torrell, Esquire (one of the Torrells of Torrell’s Hall), who married Katherine, daughter of Sir Roger Beauchamp, of Bedfordshire. She died on the 6th November 1436, according to the following inscription in A Guide to St. Christopher’s Willingale Version 7. Weever wrote in 1631 ” :- Hic jacet Domina Catherina filia Domini Rogeri Beauchamp, militis, de Com. Bedford, nuper vxor Thome Torell, Armig., que obiit vi die Nouemb. Ann Dom. 1436, et Ann. Regni R. Hen. vi post conquest.” Thomas Torrell died, probably, in or shortly before 1442, for his will was proved in that year. In it he directed that he should be buried “juxta hostitium cancelli” in the Church of Willingale Doe. Later on occurs the following passage: Itm: Volo q’ executores mei ordinēt & p’videant tres lapides marmoreas ad jacend’ sup’ ilia tria loca ubi corp’a p’ris mei, Kat’ina nup’ vx’is mei, & corpus meū in dca eccl’ia jacent hurnat”
In the Inquisition held concerning his estates in Essex, held in Aug 1443, Thomas Torell, Esquire, was found to be in possession of:
“Little Thurrock, a manor called ‘Torell’, held of the king in chief by serjeanty of being the king’s naperer on the day of his coronation. In the manor there is a site, worth nothing yearly; 160 a. land, each acre worth 2d. yearly; 40 a. marsh, each acre worth 4d. yearly; 40 a. pasture, each acre worth 4d. yearly; £4 14s. 10d. assize rent from various tenants, received at Easter and Michaelmas; and a court baron held every three weeks, worth nothing yearly beyond the fee of the steward. The manor is therefore worth £7 18d. yearly.
“Berners Roding, the manor, held of the king , of his castle of Pleshey – which is of the honour of Mandeville, parcel of the earldom or county (com’) of Essex – by knight service. In the manor there is a site, worth nothing yearly; 555 1/3 a. land, each acre worth 3d. yearly; 18 a. meadow, each acre worth 20d. yearly; a park containing 100 a., of which the herbage is worth 6s. 8d. yearly; 13s. 4d. assize rent from various tenants, received at Easter and Michaelmas; rent of 2 capons, each worth 2d., and of 1 lb. cumin, worth ½d., payable at Christmas; 25 harvest services of tenants, each worth 2d. yearly; and a court baron held every three weeks, worth nothing yearly beyond the fee of the steward. Thomas, late archbishop of York , primate of England , Robert, late bishop of London , Richard, late earl of Arundel , Thomas, late earl of Warwick , Thomas de Feriby, clerk , John de Massyngham, clerk , and Nicholas Miles, clerk were once seised of the manor in demesne as of fee, and by their writing dated at Gloucester, 30 September 1389, shown to the jurors, they granted to Thomas Hevenyngham for life an annual rent of £10 to be received from the manor – described as their manor of Berners Roding – at Easter and Michaelmas, with power of distraint. Thomas was seised of the rent in demesne as of free tenement. At Easter last he levied 100s. from the manor as distraint for that term, and later died on 9 May following. The manor is therefore worth [113s.] [ms rubbed] this year, and in following years it will be worth £10 13s. yearly.
“Aveley, 5½ a. land, each acre worth 4d. yearly, held of Edmund Ingesthorp , service unknown.
“He died on 11 March last. John Torell is his son and next heir, aged 19 on 15 October last and no more.”
Berners Roding, adjacent to Willingale Doe, was a manor that Thomas’s father, Richard Torel, had bought from the executors of Thomas of Woodstock, Earl of Gloucester.
 Richard Whiting. Whiting of Wood: A Mediaeval Landed Family
 Transactions of the Essex Archaeological Society. Volume 8, p.284.
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