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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



JOHN DE FERRERS  was the son of William de Ferrers, lord of Churston Ferrers.

Churston Ferrers is a village on the neck of land between Brixham on Tor Bay and Galmpton on the Dart estuary.

Churston Cove [1]


We do not know the date of John’s birth. He was probably a boy, or at most a young man, when the Black Death swept through England, nearly halving the population. John survived it, but as a landowner he would have had to cope with the severe shortage of labour that followed it. Laws were passed, trying to tie feudal tenants to the their lord’s land, with punishments of imprisonment, flogging and branding, but it was a seller’s market. Many moved to the towns in search of higher paid employment. Landowners often let out land they could no longer manage to farm.

John’s great-grandfather had been MP for Devon in 1302, but his grandfather is not known to have held any public office. His father William twice paid a fine to avoid being knighted, as he should have been from the size of his estates, and eventually secured a lifelong exemption. He pleaded old age when retiring from the office of coroner in 1342, though he could only have been in his thirties.

John shared his reluctance to undertake public office. He was distrained from knighthood in 1356 and 1366, paying a fine rather than undertake this dignity, which carried with it military obligations. He was named as a tax collector in January 1353, but was discharged within weeks. Shortly afterwards he obtained letters of exemption.

It was left to his younger son William to raise the family’s public profile by serving as Sheriff of Devon in 1395-6.


John had two sons, John junior and William, as well as a daughter Joan.

John junior married Elizabeth Chalons, from a distinguished knightly family, but he died childless, leaving the younger son William as heir to the Ferrers estates.

William added to these by marrying the heiress Elizabeth Matesford of Daldich, north of Honiton.

John’s daughter Joan was married three times, to John Bushell, John Isak and John Bernehous, involving further property transactions.


In 1367 John de Ferrers of Churston Ferrers appeared before Nicholas de Brittestouse, Mayor of Exeter, and John de Cory, Clerk, as the creditor for Richard de Branscombe of Devon, who owed him £60. A writ was sent to the Sheriff of Devon to secure that amount.[2]


John died in 1384.


[1] Lorry Parton. Pictures of England.
[2] National Archives. C 241/149/4




Sampson Tree