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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



 NICHOLAS DE LA HELE  was the last of his name to hold the manor of Hele, northeast of Exeter.  The Heles had been lords of the manor there since at least the 12th century.

Nicholas was born around 1360, in the reign of Edward III. He was the elder son of William de la Heale. He had a younger brother, Roger.

At his father’s death he became lord of the manor of Hele. This is an East Devon village between Exeter and Cullompton. Nicholas would have grown up here.

His younger brother Roger had a more eventful life than Nicholas. He fought in the war against Scotland, where he was taken prisoner in 1400-1.

Across the River Culm from Hele to Bradninch[1]


ALICE PERCEHAY.  Alice was undoubtedly related to Sir Henry Percehay of Hestercombe in Somerset, judge and Baron of the Exchequer. There is some disagreement about the nature of the relationship.

She is variously described as his sister, his daughter or his granddaughter  (with a father surnamed Flory).The dates of Henry (c.1329-1383 ) and Alice (c.1368-99 ) make it  highly likely that she was his daughter.

If so, then her mother was Isabella, widow of William of Filleigh, a village in North Devon. Her maiden name is unknown.

Alice had a sister Gunhilda/Gamilda and a brother William. She and her sister are said to be “co-heir and cousin” of William de Percehay of Combe Flory in Somerset. In some accounts, William is her brother who died without issue. More credibly, she inherited through her nephew, also William, and it was he who died without issue. “Cousin” was used rather loosely to describe family relationships. It could well have applied to a nephew.

When Alice’s mother died, her father seems to have remarried to Matilda. She later married a second husband, Sir John Hill, and retained some of the Percehay lands until her death.

Sir Henry died while Alice was still in her teens. The estates descended to her brother William and then to his son William junior.  It was only when he died without issue that the Percehay lands passed to Alice and her sister (or the latter’s descendants).

Combe Florey, NW of Taunton, was a major family seat. This was part of Alice’s share.[2]

“This Sir John [de Meriet] sold the reversion of the manor of Combe Flory, in 1375, to Sir Henry Percehay, a Baron of the Exchequer, Margery de Meriet retaining it until her death between 1390 and 1393. William de Percehay, only son and heir of Sir Henry Percehay, died without issue in 1390, and the reversion of the manor fell to Matilda, his cousin and co-heir, the wife of Sir John Hulle, or Hill, of Spaxton, for their lives, and then to Alice, another cousin and co-heir, the wife of Nicholas Hele, of Hele.”

This is probably a little inaccurate about relationships.

Alice’s share also included:

“Taleton, in the hundred of Harridge… In Kinge R 2 tyme, Sr Henry Percehay, Kt, held thon moyty, & Sir John Hill the other moyty; & in the beginnynge of King Henry 4 raigne, the said Sr John,  wth Matild his wief, the widow of Percehay, held the whole mannor… thother moytye, after the death of Willm Percehay, grandchild of Sr Henry Percehay, fell in particion unto Alis, wief of Nicolas Hele.”

Talaton is a village 5 miles SE of Hele.

She held a share of Kitton, west of Wellington. [3]  This was said to be her father’s birthplace.

“Kitton, that lyeth in the parish of Holcombe Rogus, was in Henry the Third’s tyme the dwelling of Roger Percehay, to who succeeded William, Henry, Sir Henry Percehay the judge, William, and William who died without issue, whose inheritance was divided anno 22 of King Richard II betwixt Richard Warr and Alis, wief of Nicholas Heale, as cozens and next heyres.”

Richard Warr was a descendant of Alice’s sister.

There was, in addition, part of Burlescombe, a village east of Tiverton.[4]

“Burlescombe (anciently Burdelescombe). This mannor hath bine, even from the Conquest, ye enheritance of the family of Clavill… After thexpiration of the name of Clavill, of this place, by conveyance, this mannor fell unto the heires of Sir Henry Percehay, the judge, allotted unto Richard Warr, of Hestercomb, in particion wth Alis, ye wief of Nicas Hele, anno 22 R 2 [1399].

This again she shared with Richard Warr.


Nicholas and Alice had one known child, Alice junior, though there may have been others who died before their parents.


Nicholas died in the first year of King Henry V’s reign [1413-14].

We do not have a death date for Alice.

Their daughter Alice junior was heir to both her parents’ estates. She married William Fraunceis of Frances Court in Broadclyst, just 3 m south of Hele. Her inheritance considerable enriched the Fraunceis family.

The surname of Hele did not die out with Nicholas’s death. There were families of that name across Devon. His younger brother Roger inherited a manor also called Hele in the parish of Cornwood, on the edge of Dartmoor, NE of Plymouth. It was sometimes known as South Hele for clarity. He gave rise to a distinguished branch of the family.


[1] Flickr. Alison Day
[2] V A Batcheor, The Manor of Combe Florey.
[3] Westcote. A View of Devonshire:
[4] Sir William Pole (d.1635), Collections Towards a Description  of the County of Devon,(1791)




Sampson Tree