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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)

Sampson  Tree



WILLIAM FERRARS was born about 1352 to a branch of Ferrers family that had moved from their ancestral home in Bere Ferrers, near the mouth of the Tamar, to Churston Ferrers south of Brixham.

He was the younger son of John de Ferrers, lord of Churston Ferrers.


ELIZABETH MATESFORD. Elizabeth was an heiress. She was the daughter and heir of John de Matesford of Daldich, in the parish of Luppitt, north of Honiton. Her father was the first of that name to hold the manor. In the absence of any brothers, she brought it to the Ferrers family on her marriage.[1]

She is thought to be perhaps ten years younger than William.


Their marriage is commemorated in an heraldic window in the church of St Mary the Virgin at Churston Ferrers. It shows the arms of Ferrers (Argent on a bend sable three horse-shoes or) impaling the Matesford arms (Argent, a chevron gules between three trefoils or).

Ferrers and Matesford arms [2]

Despite being a younger son, William became a wealthy landowner. His father and grandfather had paid fines, rather than accept a knighthood, which they should have had because of the value of their estates, but which carried military obligations. They secured exemption from other public offices. William was of a different mould . He served as Sheriff of Devon in 1396.


The couple had two daughters, Joan and Emma.


In 1412 – 13, Sir Robert Chalons, father of William’s sister-in-law, Elizabeth, and Thomas Ferrers, relationship unknown, brought a plea of covenant against William Ferrers of Churcheton [Churston] and Elizabeth, his wife, and William’s brother John Ferrers and Elizabeth, his wife.[3]

It concerned the manor of Daldich and 45 messuages, 39 furlongs of land, 16 acres of meadow, 100 acres of pasture, 30 acres of wood and 21 shillings and 7 pence of rent in Honiton and Luppitt.

These were properties William’s wife Elizabeth had brought to their marriage.

William and Elizabeth  acknowledged that the manor and tenements were the right of Thomas Ferrers, as those which Thomas and Robert have of their gift.

In return, Robert and Thomas have granted to John and Elizabeth, his wife, the manor, 22 messuages, 27 ferlings of land, the meadow, wood, pasture and rent, together with the homages and all services of Thomas Carew, knight, William, the parson of the church of Gidesham, John Calwe, Reynold Flay, Robert Basse, William Ferrour, Philip Doune (or Philip Donne), Robert Juyll’ and John Prentys and their heirs, in respect of all the tenements which they held before of Robert Chalons and Thomas Ferrers in the aforesaid vills, and have rendered the same manor and tenements to them in the court, to hold to John and Elizabeth, his wife, and the heirs of their bodies, of the chief lords for ever.

And besides Robert Chalons and Thomas Ferrers granted for themselves and the heirs of Thomas a large list of properties in Luppitt and Honiton, to revert to Robert and Thomas after the deaths of the current tenants. After their decease the properties shall remain to John Ferrers and Elizabeth, his wife, and their aforesaid heirs, to hold together with the aforesaid manor, tenements and rent of the chief lords for ever.

In default of such heirs, successive remainders (1) to William Ferrers and Elizabeth, his wife, and the heirs of the body of Elizabeth and (2) to the right heirs of William Ferrers.

As the younger brother, William only stood to succeed if his older brother John left no children. This proved to be the case.


On 9 Jan 1420 an Inquisition Post Mortem was held following the death of William’s sister Joan. She had been married three times, but left no children.

Joan, widow of John Bernehous and John Buysshell.

Inquisition. Exeter. 9 Jan 1420.

Jurors: Edward Pomeray ; John Cole of ‘Nytheway’; William Gilberd ; William Helbeme ; Robert Litelton ; John Jaycok ; Richard Pyperell ; William Beaumont ; John Sayer ; William Werthe ; John Holecombe ; and John Stapilhyll .

John Busshell held in chief the manor of Highweek with the hundred of Teignbridge belonging to it; a messuage, 2 mills, a carucate, 10 a. meadow and £8 rent in Highweek, Newton Bushel and Bradley. By his charter indented shown to the jurors, dated at Highweek 17 April 1379, he granted to John de Copleston , William de Ferrers and John Holebeme the manor of Highweek and its appurtenances in Highweek, Bradley and Newton Bushel. Copleston, Ferrers and Holebeme entered without the king’s licence having been obtained and it was taken into the king’s hands. By letters patent of 20 July 1379 [CPR 1377-81, p. 375] they were pardoned and were licensed to grant it to John son of John Busshell and his wife Joan in tail with remainder to John’s right heirs. By charter dated at Highweek 8 Aug. 1379 they granted to John son of John Busshell and his wife Joan and the heirs of their bodies the manor of Highweek with the hundred of Teignbridge and all the messuages, mills and lands in Highweek, Newton Bushel and Bradley held in chief.
After the death of John son of John without issue, Joan married John Isak and the manor reverted to Thomas atte Yeord as kinsman and heir of John Busshell, senior , i.e. son of [illegible], sister of John Busshell, senior. By charter dated at Churston Ferrers 25 May 1402, and without having obtained the king’s licence, Thomas granted the reversion of the manor to John Isak and Joan for Joan’s life, reversion of the manor of Highweek, the borough of Newton Bushel and 1/3 of the hundred of Teignbridge to his son Richard and Joan, daughter of William Ferrers , and the heirs of their bodies, reversion to William Ferrers and the heirs of his body, remainder to William’s right heirs. By virtue of that grant John Isak and Joan attorned to Richard and Joan in the lands except in 1 a. arable in the manor of Highweek. By letters patent of 4 July 1402 [CPR 1401-5, p. 100] ‪ Henry IV pardoned Richard, son of Thomas Yeord , Joan, daughter of William Ferrers , and William Ferrers for acquiring in fee from Thomas Yeord the reversion of the manor of Highweek, except 1 a. arable, the borough of Newton Bushel and 1/3 hundred of Teignbridge, held in chief, which John Isak and his wife Joan hold for her life without licence, and licensed Richard and Joan to enter on the death of Joan wife of John, to hold to them and the heirs of their bodies with remainder to William, the heirs of his body and his right heirs.
John Isak died and Joan by her charter shown to the jurors quitclaimed to Richard, Joan and William Ferrers, lord of Churston Ferrers , the manor of Highweek, Bradley, part of the manor from time immemorial, the borough of Newton Bushel and the hundred of Teignbridge, with suit of court at the hundred, by virtue of which Richard and Joan, who survive, were seised. Joan, wife of John Isak, afterwards married John Bernehous.
Joan wife of John died without issue on 10 Dec. last. William Ferrers of Churston Ferrers is her brother and next heir, aged 50 years and more. [4]

Joan, wife of John, was is William’s sister. Joan, wife of Richard Yard, was his daughter.

“The manor of Highweek is held of the king in chief by service of a pair of gilt spurs or 40d., annual value 40 marks.”

Thus William Ferrers gained properties from three sources: from his marriage to the heiress Elizabeth Matesford, from his brother John dying without issue, including some estates that had come to the Ferrers through John’s wife Elizabeth Chalons, and from his sister Joan. He became a wealthy man.


William died in 1428.

The Ferrers presence in Churston Ferrers was continued by his daughter Joan, who had married Richard Yard of Bradley manor.

His daughter Emma moved to Ayshford in the parish of Burlescombe, east of Tiverton, on her marriage to William Ayshford. At the time, Ayshford was worth £15 p.a. in rents. The estates Emma brought to the marriage totalled £219.19.3 p.a., giving some idea of the extent of William Ferrers’ wealth. And this was only half of the inheritance he passed on, the remainder going to Joan.


 [1] Pole, Sir William, Collections Towards a Description of the County of Devon,17th century. London 1791.
[2] Wikimedia Commons. Yarde Heraldic Window, Churston Ferrers Church.
[3] National Archives. CP 25/1/45/76, number 2.
[4] National Archives. 138/42/71 mm. 1-2




Sampson Tree