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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)



JOHN AYSHFORD was the third in a series of four Johns to hold the Ayshford estates. He was the son of John Ayshford of Burlescombe and Constance Worth of Worth in the parish of Washfield near Tiverton. He was probably born in the early 14th century. He was the eldest of five brothers.[1]


ALICE BOSCOE was the daughter of Sir John Boscoe of Matford near Exeter.


They were married before 1328. John’s father had died before that date too, leaving John junior in possession of the ever-expanding Ayshford estates. In 1328, John and Alice granted lands in Ayshford and Boehill to John’s brother Simon. He immediately re-granted the property back to them – the usual device to avoid paying tax.


Feet of Fines, Co. Devon, p.249 (1195.)

  1. At York, on the octave of St Martin, 2 Ed. III (18 Nov. 1328). Before [same as in No.1141]. Between John de Ashford & Alice his wife, claimants, and Simon de Ashford, deforciant; as to 1 messuage, 2 ploughlands, 26 acres of meadow, 50 acres of Wood, £4 10s 0d of rent in ASHFORD (Ashford in Burlescombe) & BEHULL (Bewhill in Burlescombe). Plea of covenant was summoned. John acknowledged the tenements to be the right of Simon as by his gift. For this Simon granted them to John & Alice & gave them up to them at the Court. To have & to hold to John & Alice & the heirs of their bodies issuing of the chief lords of that fee by the services which belong to the said tenements for ever. Should John & Alice die without such heir the tenements shall remain in their entirety to the right heirs of the aforesaid John. To hold as aforesaid for ever.[2]


England was passing through turbulent times. Edward II was under the thumb of the powerful Despenser family. He aroused the resentment of the barons, some of whom went to war against him. In 1326 Queen Isabella returned from France with her lover, Roger Mortimer and an army. Edward was deposed and the Despensers executed. After the death of the king in suspicious circumstances in 1327, his young son Edward III took the throne, with the queen and Mortimer as regents. Mortimer was later hanged for treason.


In the Devon Lay Subsidy of 1332 eleven men were assessed for tax in Ayshford. The highest was Thomas le Hurt at 2s 4d, the second was assessed at 2s, the third at 20d. John de Ayshford and Stephen Maister were joint fourth at 18d. This shows that the Ayshfords were well-to-do, but by no means the richest family in the manor. However, John stood to inherit considerable lands in South Devon after the death of his grandmother, Margaret, née Woodford, who was then still alive and assessed for the high sum of 4s 4d.


The couple had at least one son, also called John, and a daughter. Both of these married into the Gambon family of Morston Barton in Halberton parish, 5 miles SW of Burlescombe.


In 1335 John’s maternal grandfather, Alexander Worth, lost his long-running lawsuit to be declared Earl of Devon. The decision went to Hugh de Courtenay.


In 1364 an inquisition was held to prove that William de Clavyll, of the line of lords of the manor of Burlescombe, had reached the age of majority. Six men bore witness to his birth in 1343, saying that this was the year William’s father, John de Clavyll, married his daughter Joan, to John de Aysford.[3]

Peter Ploptson writes:

The Clavills were the feudal superiors of the Ayshfords in  the 13th and 14th centuries, both families figuring prominently in the  Cartulary of Canonsleigh Abbey …  I have taken it  that [John de Aysford] could only be the then (1343) head of the Ayshford family, or, possibly, his son and heir, since that person (whether father or son) was certainly named John, and the head of the Clavills (John Clavill, in that year) will have married his daughter only to someone of his sort of rank and stature, and he was of course “in the neighbourhood”. So I have inferred that a marriage of John de  Ayshford to Joan de Clavill in or about 1343 is more or less confirmed; even though it is unknown (so far as I am aware) in Vivian, Pole, or Westcote. Now, of course, this marriage might not have produced surviving children. The husband might have been a widower,and this a second union. One notes that the bride, Joan, was sister of someone born in the year of the marriage; so she was likely a very young bride, even possibly still a child (not unknown in those centuries). Since William de Ayshford was born 5 July 1361, and his father John de Ayshford died 14 Oct. 1362, it is difficult to see how things all fit together in this picture. Might the marriage between John and Joan have been a marriage (arranged by their parents) which occurred when both were essentially children? Joan could be the mother of William de Ayshford. Or Joan might have died, and the still-young John have married someone else.”[4]

Debbie Kennett thinks it more likely that this is the second marriage of the John Ayshford of the 1328 deed who married Alice Boscoe, not of their son John, husband of Edith Gambon.[5]

If this is correct, then Alice must have died sometime between 1328 and 1343, while still not middle-aged. John’s death would then be later than 1343.

1348 saw the outbreak of the Black Death, when a third of the population died.



[1] Source, except where otherwise stated: F. & H. Ayshford, Notes Towards a History of the Ayshford Family of Devon. Typescript booklet.

[2] Feet of Fines

[3] Calendar of Inquistions, C. Edw. III. File 180. (27.)

[4] Email to Debbie Kennett

[5] Debbie Kennett




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