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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



ROBERT DE WOOLAVINGTON.  We learn from the Ayshfords of Ayshford that William Ayshford, lord of that manor in East Devon, married Joan, daughter and co-heir of Robert Wollavington of Wollavington in Somerset.[1]

This is confirmed by the Victoria County History of Somerset, which lists the succession of the lords of the manor of Woolavington and Cossington.

Henry (fl. 1324), who may have been followed by John of Woolavington (fl. 1326-31) and Robert (fl. 1333-44), a free tenant of James Audley, lord of Nether Stowey.  Robert’s daughter Joan married William Ayshford and the estate is said to have descended in the direct male line to her son John Ayshford, her grandson William, her great grandson John, and her great great grandson William Ayshford (d. 1508).”

This does not explicitly state that Robert was the son of Henry de Woolavington, but the closeness of the dates for John and Robert suggests that they were brothers, rather than father and son. The most likely explanation is that John and Robert were Henry’s son, with John being the older. If John died without issue, then the manor would have passed to his younger brother Robert.

Woolavington is a village in Somerset, 4 m NE of Bridgwater. It stands on the northern slopes of the Polden Hills that cut across the Somerset Levels.

View from the Polden Hill[2]


Robert was born in the early 14th century, when the country’s prosperity was declining. It was around that time that the tower was added to St Mary’s church in Woolavington.


Since there is evidence for him from 1344, he would almost certainly have witnessed the Black Death which reached England in 1348.

The Black Death killed at least a third of the population. It left a serious shortage of labour. Landowners like Robert would have had great difficulty in finding enough people to work their lands. Although feudal law obliged serfs to stay on their lord’s land and contribute their labour, people now ignored this. They absconded to the towns in search of better paid work, or demanded wages to work for their lords. Strict laws were enacted to forbid this, but they failed. Robert may have had to compensate for this by letting out some of his demesne lands to smaller farmers.


As so often in medieval times, we do not know the name of Robert’s wife.

Since his daughter Joan brought to manor to her husband William Ayshford, it would appear that Robert had no sons, or none that survived him.

Joan’s husband was born in 1361, she may have been older than him, or she may have been a child born when Robert was already well on in years. Some trees give her an approximate birth date of 1355.

Ayshsfords of Ayshford calls Joan the co-heir. She must have had at least one other sister to share the inheritance. The fact that she took the family manor of Woolavington and Cossington means that she was almost certainly the eldest.

The estate she brought to the Ayshford’s was a modest one, worth £16.5.5. By contrast, her son William’s wife Emma Ferrars, brought him a huge £212.19.3.


In the late 14th century, a chantry priest is said to have kept a school in Woolavington.


We do not have a death date for Robert.



[1] http://freepages.rootsweb.com/~ayshford/genealogy
[2] Dreamstime.com. Polden Hills Photos.




Sampson Tree