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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



RICHARD TOREL was the son and heir of Thomas Torel and Elizabeth Marshall.

He was born around 1354, in the middle of Edward III’s reign, shortly after the Black Death.

The family home was Torrells Hall in West Thurrock, on the north bank of the Thames estuary. This had been the ancestral home of the Torels for generations.

Richard was within a few years of his majority when his father died in the early 1370s. He came of a long line of Torels who had served as Serjeant Naperer to the king, having responsibility for the royal table linen at the coronation. Richard inherited this office from his father. In return for this service, plus a small monetary payment, he received the manor of Little Thurrock, adjacent to West Thurrock.

He was said to be 21 when his mother died in 1375, but in that year Roger Mareschal, probably his uncle, was granted “the keeping of the Blatherwycke, lands in Little Thurrock, co. Essex, late of Elizabeth Torell, until the full age of her heir, together with the marriage of the latter.”[1]

It could not have been long before Richard came into his inheritance.

ALICE. We learn her name only at Richard’s death. We have no information about her surname, or where she came from.

We do not know whether this marriage was arranged by Richard’s guardian Roger Mareschal, or whether it happened after Richard reached his majority. The late date of their son Thomas’s birth, around 1396, points to the latter.


Thomas is the only child of this marriage that we know of.  There may have been others.

A History of the County of Sussex tells us that “Richard Torel, probably son of Thomas, and Roger Mareschall in 1390 received a grant of a moiety of the manor of Bepton which had been forfeited by John Blake ‘under the judgement against him in the parliament of 11 Richard II’. This moiety was evidently that formerly held by the Bassets, and when Richard Torel died in 1405 he held of the earl of Arundel as of the honor of Tateshale the manors of Estcourt and Westcourt in Bepton.  His son Thomas was only 9 years old, and the united manor was held during his minority by John and Walter Tyrrell but in 1428 Thomas Torrell was returned as holding 1 knight’s fee in Bepton, formerly of Henry Darcy and Philip Englefeld.” [2]

The manor of Bepton had been passed down through Richard’s ancestors the Dunstanvilles, and then the Bassevilles, until the marriage of Richard’s ancestor Alice de Basseville to William Torel.


In 1397, Thomas of Woodstock, Earl of Gloucester, died. He held the manor of Roding Berners, next to Willingale Doe. It was purchased from his executors by Richard Torrel, of Little Thurrock.[3]

In the late 14th century the Torels moved from their ancestral home in Thurrock on the Thames estuary to Shellow Bowells, some 17 miles further north. This is a village 6 miles west of Chelmford. The parish is adjacent to Berners Roding, where Richard bought land in 1397, and to Willingale Doe, where the family eventually settled. The manor came to Richard through his mother’s family and was at one time known as Shellow Torrell.

Since Richard died in 1405 it would appear that he was the one to make this move.

If the address of Little Thurrock in the record of his purchase of Roding Berners in 1397 is correct, then the move must have been made in the very last years of the century. Roding Berners, now known as Berners Roding, is only a mile from Shellow Bowells, so the purchase seems to have been made with this move in mind.

There was a possible motive for leaving Thurrock.

In 1363, a Commission de wallis et fossatis was granted to three men in West Thurrock, including Richard’s father, Thomas Torel. These commissions had the power to enforce the construction and repair of embankments and ditches. [4]

There was major flooding on the Thames estuary in the late 14th century. A shortage of labour following the Black Death in the middle of the century had led to the sea defences falling into disrepair. Clearly, this was an issue for the Torels in the 1360s, and the floods grew worse in the 1370s. It seems probable that this was the factor influencing their move away from coastal Thurrock to an inland parish.

Richard died in 1405, only a few years after the move, so it is not certain whether he was the one to move the family to the adjacent village of Willingale Doe and to build a new Torrells Hall there, replacing the one they had left in West Thurrock. Willingale does not feature in the list of estates Richard left, but Torrells Hall is on the edge of Berners Roding, so it may have once formed part of that manor, or it may have been included in the manor of Shellow Bowells.

The present Torrells Hall dates back to the 16th century, but it is believed to overlie a medieval predecessor.

The old Torrells Hall in West Thurrock was subsequently known as Home Farm.

Willingale lies in the Roding valley, east of Chelmsford. It was formed of two parishes, Willingale Doe and Willingale Spain. The name Torrells Hall was subsequently given to one of two manors in Willingale Doe.

The fact that there were two parishes had the odd result that there were two parish churches with adjacent churchyards. St Christopher’s on the north side served Willingale Doe, and St Andrew’s on the south side Willingale Spain. The now combined churchyard has fine views across the Roding Valley.

St Christopher’s was built in the late 14th century, so it was quite new when the Torels moved to Willingale Doe. The tower was added in the 15th century. The church is constructed of flint, with fragments of Roman brick.


Willingale Doe churches
St Christopher’s on the right [5]

Richard died on 11 May 1405. Thomas was still a boy of nine.

An Inquisition held on 12 May 1405 found that Richard had been in possession of these manors in Sussex:

“He granted the manors of Eastcourt and Westcourt in Bepton to John Tyrell, Walter Tyrell, John Mymmes and Geoffrey Mareschal , clerks, and Adam Reyner . They held them in their demesne as of fee and received the rents and services of the free tenants and villeins. All the tenants, including the priors of Tortington, Portsmouth and Southwick, William Turgess and William atte Chambre attorned to them. The manors are held of the earl of Arundel of his manor of ‘Toteshale’ by a rent of 3s.4d. at Michaelmas.

“He died on 11 May last . Thomas his son was aged 9 years on 21 Sept.”

The Tyrells are probably Torels. Their relationship to Richard is not stated. Geoffrey Mareschal would be from the family of Richard’s mother, Elizabeth Marshall.


A similar Inquisition into his manors in Essex, held 12 May 1405 found:

“He held in his demesne as of fee of the king in chief in petty serjeanty the manor called Torells in Little Thurrock by the service of the napery at the coronation, annual value £8.

“On 18 Feb. 1405 he granted by charter to John Tyrell , Walter Tyrell , John Mymmes, clerk , Geoffrey Marischall, clerk , and Adam Reyner the manor of West Thurrock, two parts of the manor of Shellow Bowells, and all other lands, tenements, rents and services in West Thurrock and Stifford with the advowson of Stifford at the third vacancy, and the reversion of the third part of the manor of Shellow Bowells which Margaret widow of Roger Marischal holds for life and which should revert to him and his heirs, to them, their heirs and assigns. They held them before the death of Richard without fraud or collusion. The manor of West Thurrock with the holdings etc. are held of John Lyghtfot and other tenants of the manor and lordship of West Thurrock, service unknown. The two parts of Shellow Bowells with the reversion of the third are held of Joan de Bohun, countess of Hereford , service unknown.

“Date of death and heir, aged 8 on 21 Sept., as above.”

Roger Marischal is probably Richard’s uncle.


An Inquisition on 15 July 1405 found that Richard held no land in the city of London.

It was not until 30 June 1410 that an Inquisition was held into his estates in Hertfordshire.

Richard Torell of Essex, esquire , who held of the king in chief, died on 11 May 1405 holding the reversion of various lands called Bertrams in Standon after the death of Robert Marchall, knight, in virtue of a grant in fee tail to him and the heirs of his body. They should have descended to Thomas Torell , his son and heir, who is under age in the king’s ward.

“They are held of the earl of March, also in the king’s ward, of his manor of Standon, service unknown, annual value £4.

“Richard Perers, esquire , entered on the death of Richard Torell and took the profits, title unknown, until Midsummer last, and he is answerable to the king because he refuses to pay them to the escheator. From Midsummer the escheator will answer for them.”

Sir Robert Marchall was Richard’s uncle, brother of his mother Elizabeth. He died in 1402-3, leaving no child of his own, so his nephew Richard Torell was his heir.


Alice outlived Richard.

On 19 Jan 1406 there was an order to the escheator in Essex “to take of Alice who was wife of Richard Torell an oath etc., and in presence of Joan de Bohun countess of Hereforde, Gerard Braybroke, William Marny knights, Thomas Feryby, Roger Haldenby clerks and John Bray of Felstede, to whom the king has committed the ward of all her husband’s lands until the full age of the heir, or of their attorneys, to assign her dower.”[6]

Joan de Bohun was the mother of Eleanor de Bohun, who married Thomas, Earl of Gloucester, from whose executors Richard had purchased the manor of Rodings Berners.

It was the usual practice to appoint administrators of the lands that a minor inherited. In this case, some of that inheritance was set aside as a dower for Alice. She was awarded a third part of Richard’s estates in Shellow Bowells, West Thurrock and Little Thurrock.

She died in 1417.


[1] https://archive.org/stream/calendarofpatent16grea/calendarofpatent16grea_djvu.txt
[2]] A History of the County of Sussex. Vol 4. Bepton. 1953.
[3] Thomas Wright, The History and Topography of the County of Essex. Book II. 1836
[4] Patent Rolls. Edward III
[5] Willingale Village
[6] Calendar of Close Rolls 1406.




Sampson Tree