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, Cory Tree



EDMER ISMAIL SAMPSON was born in the Stoke district of Plymouth on 30 Dec 1898, the son of John Sampson and Elizabeth Lee.

He told his children that his father, who had recently returned from army service in Egypt, wanted to call his eldest son Ali Hassan, after the regimental camel driver, but that the parson had refused to christen him by a heathen name. Whatever the truth of that, the choice of name was made before the baby was registered on 12 Jan 1899, two months before the christening.
Ismail is a common name in Arab countries. It is a variant of Ishmael ,who in the biible is the son of Abraham and Hagar. He is traditionally held to be the ancestor of the Arab people . It may have been suggested by the vicar as an acceptable alternative, with a link to John’s service in Egypt.

Edmer Ismail Sampson. 30 Dec 98. Entry No. 374. Register Book 32. 8 West Park Terrace,
Stoke Sub District, Stoke.

Edmer is the name of an Anglo-Saxon saint and historian. In his teens, the spelling of his name was changed to Edmar.

The christening took place in the parish church of Higher St Budeaux, where his mother had grown up and where his grandmother Charlotte was still living.

Baptism. St Budeaux.
Edmer Ismail. John & Elizabeth Maria Sampson. 8 West Park Terrace. Sergeant. 3rd Devon Regt.

8 West Park Terrace was where Elizabeth had lived with her first husband, William Norton, until his death. Edmer was the first child of her second marriage, to John Sampson. There was already a step-brother, William, 10, and two step-sisters, Emily, 7, and Winifred, 4.

On his service record, Edmer’s birthplace is given as Crown Hill, but West Park Terrace, Stoke, was more central.

Mutley is also near the centre of Plymouth. In the 1901 census, the family were living in Mutley Barracks. Edmer’s father was away, presumably with his regiment. Edmer is living with his mother and two step-sisters, Emily and Winifred Norton. His step-brother William had left home.

That same year, at the age of three, Edmer was awarded a prize for ‘Early and Regular Attendance’ by the Mutley Wesleyan Sunday School in Plymouth. The prize was a story book, Grandmamma’s Pockets. His grandmother, Charlotte Lee, now living in St Budeaux, came from a Methodist family in Moretonhampstead. She may have been an influence in the choice of Sunday School.

Twin brothers, Sidney and Stanley, were born later that year.

In 1902, their father retired from the Devonshire Regiment with the rank of Colour Sergeant.

The family moved to Agaton Cottages on the Green in St Budeaux, either sharing a house with, or near Edmer’s widowed grandmother. Also living on the Green was his uncle Richard Lee, a naval pensioner. Two other uncles had died at sea. It may have been this sea-going tradition which turned Edmer’s thoughts later to the Marines, rather than his father’s profession of the army.

A sister Marie was born about 1906. In June that year, when Edmer was seven, their father died of cancer of the tongue.

The vicar of Higher St Budeaux was very supportive of the family. He arranged for Elizabeth to sew shirts for soldiers, but the family were poor. Fay’s recollection is that Edmar said he stopped going to church because the other boys had best Sunday clothes, while he had only the patched Norfolk jacket he wore all week. Joyce remembers the reason being that he did not always have shoes.

In 1909 Edmer, aged 10,  was sent to the Duke of York Royal Military Academy in Dover, which had places for the orphan sons of soldiers. He was admitted on 28 Aug and apprenticed as an Army Volunteer. His mother remembered one of his letters home, which said he had a slice of Christmas pudding in his pocket, waiting to go cold.


We’re drilled and dressed and disciplined,
We’re proud of our great name
As Dukies, Play up Dukies.
We’ll take you on at anything
And always play the game,
As Dukies, Play up Dukies.
The spirit of our soldier sires is round about us still,
And everything we’ve got to do, we work at with a will;
Oh we’ve got no use for slackers at the School on Lone Tree Hill.
Play up Dukies, Play up Dukies

Be it peace or be it war,
Play up Dukies
As your fathers did before,
Play up Dukies
For the honour of your name, take the torch and fan the flame.
Play the game, Play the game,
Play up Dukies 

And when we join our regiments
And we march and ride and shoot
As Dukies, Play up Dukies,
You’ll recognise the Dukie
As the very best recruit.
Play up Dukies, Play up Dukies.
For when the British soldier marches forth to right the wrong
And work is at its hardest and the fight is fierce and long,
Then the old White Rose shall lead us and the Dukie shall be strong.
Play up Dukies, Play up Dukies.


When veterans and pensioners,
We’re drifting down the hill,
Play up Dukies, Play up Dukies,
Though death be in the valley
We will face him, Dukies, still
Play up Dukies, Play up Dukies.

And though our lonely graves be dug in some far distant land,
Our spirits coming back again will hover near at hand,
And the boys will hear us whisper, and the boys will understand.
Play up Dukies, Play up Dukies.


Edmer was there for the 1911 census. He appears on a page with 29 other boys, whose ages range from 10 to 14. His surname is misspelt.

1911 Census. The Duke of York’s School, Guston near Dover, Kent.
Samson, Edmar Ismail                       12        Schoolboy       Devonshire, Plymouth

It was taken for granted that all the boys at the Duke of York School would join the army, like their fathers. Most signed on at fourteen. Edmer was in the band, who stayed until they were fifteen. It was intended that he would join the Education Corps, and become a teacher, but he had other ideas. On the morning of his fifteenth birthday, 30 Dec 1913, he got up before dawn, climbed out of the window and ran into town, where he signed on in the Royal Marines.


Group 41 (School Boy)
Certificate of the Service of Ply 22788
Edmar Ismail Sampson  Royal Marines

First entry in the Service on enlistment            Date                 Age
at Depôt R.M. Deal                                          30 Dec 1913        15.0.0

Date of Birth  30 Dec 1898                  Name and Address of next of Kin
Where born  Crown Hill                       Mother                                          Depot 355
                     Devonport                        Elizabeth  The Green  St Budeaux Devonport
 Group 41     Devon                                 Wife
Trade  Duke of Yorks School Boy         Edith Maud Sampson
           (Musician)                                  On Dispersal    Lympstone Cottage
Religion  C of E                                                              Strawberry Hill
National Registration Identity No  WEVC 253-1            Lympstone   Exmouth

Date of re-engagement  8 Dec 1928       Date and place of Marriage  30 Dec 31  Deal

Description of Person              Stature             Colour of                    Marks, Wounds,
Feet  In.   Complexion Eyes  Hair               and Scars
For Band Boys and                        –
Buglers only
On Enlistment as Private          5     4¼        Fresh      Grey  Brown                Nil
On Re-engagement                      5      5              “            “        “                       “
On final discharge from               5      6½           “            “     Fair          Scar left side of neck
the Service                                                                                            Scar left side little finger
School Certificate
A/G Apparatus issued     12.3.28                                                       Class                   Date
3rd               3 Mch 1914
                                                                                                                   2nd               3 June 1914
Able to swim?      Yes
When tested         25 May 1914
Where                   Deal
Employment during Service  20 July 36 P.S.T. Good
Rank     Division or Ship               Dates                  Character  Ability       Recommended for
Pte  Recruit Depot Deal   30 Dec 13 – 31 Dec 13         V.G.                       Medal and Gratuity
Bandsman  Do                 1 Jan 14 – 27 Apl 14
Bugler        Do                28 Apl 14 – 28 Aug 15           V.G.         Sat
Musn  Depot R.M. Deal 29 Aug 15 – 29 Dec 16           V.G.         Sat
Attained the age of 18 years
Musn          Do              30 Dec 16 – 31 July 22             V.G       Sat/Supr.
Musn  Portsmouth Dn  1 Aug 22 – 22 July 23                V.G.        Supr
            (at Depot)
Musn  Depot Estb        23 July 23 – 20 Mch 25              V.G.       Sat
Musn   Repulse           21 Mch 25 – 18 Oct 25
Musn  Depot Estb      19 Oct 25 –  30 Sep 30                 V.G.       Sat                R.M.G., R.M.G.
Musn  Plymouth Dn  1 Oct 30 – 29 Dec 37                    V.G.       Supr                   R.M.G.

                         Termination of his Second Period of Engagement    Pensioner No 26273

Musn  Plymouth Dn (Mob) 1 July 40 – 11 Aug 40
Musn  RM Reserve Depot  12 Aug 40 – 13 Aug 45         V.G.       Sat
Musn  Plymouth Division  14 Aug 45 – 16 Oct 45    Released to Class A
Classification for Conduct        Good Conduct Badges
First      30 Dec 13              One  29 Dec 18
         N.C.     29 Dec 18              Two  30 Dec 24
                                                   Three 30 Dec 29

 Wounds received in action, and Hurt Certificate, also for any Meritorious Service,
Special recommendations, Prize or other Grants
16 Aug 19   Paid War Gratuity £29                      21 Apl 22 B.W.O. Victory Medal
2 Feb 32     Paid £20 L.S.& G.C. Gratuity           31 Jan 32 L.S.& G.C. Medal
3 Sp 44       W.S.G. (4 years)                                 3 June 37 The Coronation Medal
                  payment of war gratuity and p.w.c. authorised                                               

Served with Expeditionary Force, France
   From 18 Jan 17 To 28 Mch 17

L.S.& G.C. is Long Service and Good Conduct.

 It is not certain whether the change of name from Edmer to Edmar took place when he went to the Duke of York School, or when he joined the Marines. It is possible that when he gave his unusual name, out of breath or nervous, the recruiting clerk misheard it. Once it was entered as Edmar on an official form, the Admiralty may have been unable to admit to having made a mistake, or Edmer was too nervous to tell them. He remained Edmar for the rest of his life.

He was too young to serve overseas at the start of World War I, but within three weeks of his eighteenth birthday he was sent to join the Expeditionary Force. It is not known what form this active service took. In war zones, Royal Marine bandsmen often helped with communications or as stretcher bearers. He spoke of sleeping in a rat-infested barn. He appears to have been abroad only for two months, though there is no record of his having been wounded. It is possible that he fell victim to Spanish flu, which was devastating Europe, and was invalided home. There are photos of him in bed.

He returned to the Marine Depot at Deal.

While in Deal, he met and fell in love with Edith Cory. He courted her for eleven years before they were married. He was supporting his widowed mother, and felt unable to support a wife as well as his mother. His brother Stanley died in 1920 and the twin Sidney appears to have given no help. His sister Marie died in 1924, at the age of 18.

Deal was the home of the Marines’ School of Music. School of Music bands did duty on board ships, but Edmar played in the more prestigious Staff Band, first at the Deal depot, and then at the headquarters of the Plymouth Division. He played bass, both the tuba in the marching band and the double bass in the orchestra and dance band.

According to his service record, he should have been in Deal for the 1921 census, but he has not been found there, or anywhere else.

The only time he served on board a ship was when the Prince of Wales made a tour of the South Atlantic in the Repulse in 1925, visiting West and Southern Africa and Argentine, Uruguay and Chile. He had a low opinion of the Prince of Wales. Marines traditionally guarded ships’ officers from the crew, and had access to parts of the ship out of bounds to ordinary sailors. He told of how he and other Marines would knock on the porthole and make faces while the Prince was having his bath. The Prince waved his hands ineffectually, calling, ‘Go away, you men, go away!’ Edmar was given an elaborate certificate after the traditional ‘Crossing the Line’ ceremony at the equator. The BBC has some archive film of this tour.

In September 1930, the Deal depot was closed and its bandsmen distributed to the other three divisions: Chatham, Plymouth and Portsmouth. Edmar returned to his home town of Plymouth to join the Royal Marine Staff Band there, one of the finest military bands in the country, who often play at national ceremonial occasions.

Though his mother lived until 1932, it may have been leaving Deal which finally brought about his marriage to Edith Cory on his 33rd birthday, 30 Dec 1931.

Edmar Sampson, 2nd from left.


Edith was born in Deal on 12 Dec 1901. She was the daughter of Richard William Cory, builder and decorator, and Jane Bushell Baker. She was the seventh child, having two older brothers and four sisters.

She was not baptised until Apr 8 1903, when she was brought to St Andrew’s church, Deal. Her surname is recorded inaccurately as Corry. Her parents are Richard William and Jane. Her father is a bricklayer. The family address is 2 Cannon St, Deal.

St Andrew’s had been opened in 1850, to serve the northern part of the town. Cannon St is three streets north of the church.

In 1905, when she was three, her mother died after giving birth to another daughter, Jane, known as Jean. Her father married again, to a Caroline Finnis, a widow with seven children of her own, and the couple had two more children.

In the 1911 Census, 9-year-old Edith was living at 47 College Road in Deal with her father, who is still a bricklayer, and her stepmother. Also in the household were 4 step-brothers, 3 step-sisters, 3 sisters, 1 brother and 2 half-brothers. The ages of the 14 children ranged from 21 to 1. Oddly, Edith is not listed as being at school, though three of  the older children are.

But the marriage did not last and the stepmother left, taking the children from both her marriages with her. Cousins in Deal say they still have relatives they meet in the street, but do not speak to.

The Cory family lived sucessively in 2 Cannon Street, 47 College Road and Fernside, Middle Deal Road. Richard Cory became an independent builder and built his own house, Wi Wurry, in Middle Deal Road.

Edith left school at thirteen, to become a chambermaid at the Beach House Hotel. She was required to wear a black dress. Having no mother to help her, she bought a pattern and a length of black material and set about making herself a dress. So began a lifetime interest in needlework of many sorts.

The ‘old cook’ at the Beach House Hotel seems to have been something of a mother-substitute, whose words of wisdom in housekeeping matters were often quoted. Edith graduated from chambermaid to silver-service waitress. She could carry six loaded dinner plates without a tray.

Edith (left) in her waitress’s uniform

At least one sister, Nell, worked there too, as well friends Dora and Lil, who later became honorary aunts to Edith’s children. Edith talked of dancing the Charleston on the table. One summer, three of them left the hotel and spent summer days on the beach sunbathing. Lil said, ‘We’ll get another job when Edie peels,’ but she never did.

Edith, granddaughter of the boatman Thomas Cory, recalls helping to launch the lifeboat. While the men pushed it down over the beach, the women and girls would seize the rollers as the boat cleared them, and run round to lay them in front.

One sister, Ethel, served in the WRAC during World War I, had an illegitimate baby and died young of TB. Edith was told to attend a TB clinic. She quickly formed the view that she didn’t have TB, but would if she sat in that waiting room much longer. She stopped going.

In the 1921 census we find Edith, aged 19, living at the Beach House Hotel where she works as a waitress. Also there is her sister Ellen Sarah (Nell), aged 25, who is also a waitress.
The hotel keeper is Charles Francis Swann, aged 33. He was born in New York State, but is listed as Resident, British born.
Charles and Caroline Swann, aged 61 and 58, are listed as Boarders, but are presumably his relations. He is a retired engineer, born in Gravesend, and she was born in Woolwich, and has no occupation.
Besides the Cory sisters, there are five other hotel employees living in.
29-year-old Sarah Ann Bowden is a cook-housekeeper, born in Peckham Rye. 31-year-old Bertrand Henry Bowden is presumably her husband and works as a hotel porter. He was born in Ashford, Kent.
Elsie Mary Kirby, aged 22, is a Kitchenmaid, born in Westwell, Kent.
There are two chambermaids: Alice Florence 28, born in Stockley, aged 28, and Ethel Maud Hilliard, aged 30, born in Southwark.
Apart from the Bowdens, all the other staff are single. There may have been married employees who did not live in the hotel.
There are 16 visitors and one boarder. They include the Government’s Director of Finance from Whitehall, a retired police officer and his wife, a 26-year-old married woman of no occupation, a 28-year-old widow of no occupation (it is possible that these two were friends holidaying together), a jeweller and his wife, a retired civil servant and his wife, a 50-year-old widow of no occupation, an optician, a retired military officer,  an electrical engineer from the Potteries and a 36-year-old woman from Yorkshire engaged in home duties.
The boarder is a retired chief clerk.
The last two names on the return are George and Amy Swann. He is a motor body builder and she does home duties. It is likely that they are related to the hotel keeper Charles Swann, though they are listed simply as visitors.

We do not know how long Edith lived in at the Beach Hotel. At the time of her marriage nine years after the census she was living at Wi-Wurri.

Now that her father was building houses, Edith and her sisters would help to scrub out a newly-built house in readiness for its purchasers. But her father was an alcoholic, who drank most of the proceeds from the business. Most of the sisters had a turn at keeping house for him, but they eventually married and left home Edith was the last to marry. Edmar said that there was a policeman stationed outside the church for the wedding, in case her father turned violent at losing his last housekeeper.

Marriage: 30 Dec 1930.  Parish Church, Deal.
Edmar Ismail Sampson.  The Green, St Budeaux, Plymouth.
Father: John Sampson (Deceased). Army Pensioner.
Edith Maud Cory. Wi Wurry, Middle Deal Road, Deal
Father: Richard Wm Cory. Builder.

The couple set up home in rented accommodation in the dockside area of Stonehouse, Plymouth. Edith resented the fact that Admiralty inspectors came to see that she was keeping the house clean, even though she was not living in Admiralty quarters. Edmar recalled an invitation to a Royal Marine function addressed to: ‘Officers and their ladies, NCOs and their wives, men and their women.’

The day their first daughter was born, 24 Nov 1932, Edmar was playing at the launching of HMS Orion. He wanted to call the baby Oriana, but Edith put her foot down, and she was christened Joyce Evelyn.

A second child, a boy, miscarried.

They moved to 12 Kathleaven Street, St Budeaux, where another daughter, Fay Elizabeth, was born, 10 June 1935. This name was inspired by her sister, who said the fairies must have brought her.

Edmar left the Marines in 1937, after 24 years service. It was the time of the Depression and he was unemployed for a year or two. He finally got a job as a cleaner in the GPO sorting office at Pennycomequick in Plymouth.

But soon after, war broke out.

The 1939 Register was taken on 29 Sep. It provided a basis for the issuing of ration books in 1940 and a survey of the population for conscription, evacuation, etc.

Edmar and Edith were living at 12 Kathleaven St. Their two daughters were with them, but the names of people born less than 100 years ago are blanked out. Edmar is described as a Cleaner GPO and Pensioner Royal Marines. Edith is Unpaid Domestic Duties.

As a Marine pensioner, Edmar was not immediately called up. Plymouth was considered out of reach of German bombers and three children of Edith’s sister, Jean Nightingale, were evacuated from Deal to stay with the Sampsons. As the Germans advanced to the Channel, Plymouth proved to be not only within range but a prime target. The evacuees went home.

Edmer progressed to sorter at the GPO, taking a pride in identifying the destination of ill-addressed mail.

Eventually he was recalled to the Royal Marines. There had been discipline problems at the Marine training camp in Lympstone, on the Exe estuary. Pensioner bandsmen, including Edmar, were called up and sent there to be ‘a steadying influence on the young’. The family followed him, moving to Lympstone Cottage, Strawberry Hill, in January 1941. The band’s chief function was to raise morale and funds by playing at hospitals, concerts and dances. Edmar would dress up in striped pyjamas and a pirate hat for their Crazy Gang. Sometimes he would be dropped off at the camp late at night after a concert, to walk the mile or two home, reporting again mid-morning for band practice. He also took his turn at fire-watching, and was on duty at the camp on the night of the Exeter Blitz. Edith and the children were sheltering in the cupboard under the stairs and could hear the bombing 8 miles away. Edith feared for Edmar’s safety.

More cousins came as evacuees, this time Pamela and Roger Cory, children of Edith’s brother Bert and his wife Rose.

Peter, Margaret and Marjorie Sampson, the children of Edmar’s brother Sidney, were in a children’s home which was evacuated to a house near Exmouth. They sometimes came to visit. Edmar wanted them to live with us permanently, so that they would have a proper home, and was angry when Sidney refused permission.

When the war ended in 1945, Edmar was issued with a demob suit. They had trouble fitting him. Although he was only 5ft 8ins, his tuba playing had given him the chest of a six-footer.

After demobilisation, Edmar took a job as postman at Combe Martin, on the North Devon coast. He lived in lodgings, while he looked around for a house so that the family could join him. But they never did. On fine days he enjoyed the work, especially the afternoon round, when he walked out over the cliffs to remote farmhouses. But in bad weather he complained of getting soaked. The people were so suspicious of incomers, even other Devonians, that he didn’t feel they would ever be accepted in the village.

He came back to Lympstone and got a job at the Admiralty store depot at Topsham, where he became an assistant storehouse keeper. He was also branch treasurer for the Transport and General Workers Union. For a time, he was secretary of the Lympstone Labour Party, very definitely a minority in rural Devon at that time.

He particularly enjoyed playing games such as cribbage and chess, and had been the cribbage champion at the Marine camp. He would spend hours listening to the radio while dealing himself crib hands and instantly calculating the score. He wrote some humorous poems and particularly enjoyed Spoonerisms. He enjoyed listening to symphony concerts and was on the BBC’s listeners’ panel for the Third Programme.

On winter evenings he would read aloud while Edith and the girls sat around the fire sewing.

He enjoyed going on family walks and was knowledgeable about wildlife.

It was Edith who was the disciplinarian in the family. She also handled the family finances. Ed would hand over his pay packet to her, keeping a small amount for spending money. She would pay the household bills. There was a small box on the top of the kitchen dresser, where Ed kept money for holidays.

Holidays were either spent with one of Edie’s sisters, on the Kent or Sussex coast, or as daily coach trips in the South West.++

Ed smoked roll-up cigarettes and Edie would sometimes have one after a meal. Ed never went to a pub. He bought just one bottle of wine for Christmas, usually port, but once Tarragona.

It was a rather lonely life for her. The main street of Lympstone straggled up from the river for a mile, with the housing concentrated at either end. Lympstone Cottage was in the middle, with few neighbours.

Edith was skilled at needlework, making most of the clothes for herself and her two daughters, as well as doing knitting, embroidery, crochet and rug-making.

She enjoyed tending the flower beds at the front of the house, while Edmar worked the large vegetable garden, fenced off from the orchard that sloped up the hill. There were fruit trees in the garden, and a large damson tree that produced fruit by the hundredweight. Edith made large quantities of jam. Edmar also had an allotment near the church.

When the orchard was sold off for housing, one family thought they had bought our vegetable garden, and were disappointed to find that it was still ours.

The Sampsons were offered the chance to buy Lympstone Cottage for £1000, but thought this was too much.

Edith recalled that, growing up in Deal, she resented having to curtsey to the gentry as they drove past in their carriages. At Lympstone, she appreciated the courtesy of the colonel who was their landlord and who touched his hat to her when they met.

Edmar played in the village silver band, but found the standard of playing a trial, after the finest band of the Royal Marines. He played for the Furry Dance, which wound its way along the village street, dancing in and out of houses and pubs, where drinks would be lined up on the counter.


Edmar died in 1956, a week after he was admitted to hospital.

Death: 19 February 1956. Exmouth Hospital. Kidney failure.


Edith had been a housewife since her marriage. She had always cared for the flower garden, and on Edmar’s death she took over the large vegetable garden and enjoyed this too.

For a time, she supplemented her widow’s pension by taking a cleaning job at a house in the village.

After Edmar’s death she took an active part in church activities. She sewed and knitted items to send to mission churches overseas, and was cross when she was once told that things she had made for African children were too good to send abroad, and should be entered for a sale instead.


Fay left home in 1957 to teach. After marrying Jack Priestley, she went with him to Zambia, where their children Mark and Katharine were born. They returned to live in Exeter. Joyce, a solicitor’s clerk, marred Robert Perry in 1964 and continued to live in Lympstone, with their daughters Margaret and Anne.

Edith with Jack, Mark, Kate, Maggie and Joyce


Eventually Edith moved out of Lympstone Cottage into an old people’s bungalow, not far from Joyce and Robert. She continued to do voluntary work for the parish church and still enjoyed gardening on a smaller scale. She suffered from arthritis, but did not allow it to stop her pursuing her interests. She lived long enough to know that Fay had dedicated her first book to her, though she did not see its publication.

On 17 January 1975 she spent the afternoon delivering parish magazines, then returned home, put on the kettle and died of a heart attack. She is buried with Edmar in the churchyard of the church of the Nativity of Blessed Virgin Mary, Lympstone.








Sampson Tree, Cory Tree