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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 BRENT. Joan de Brent married Thomas Denebaud around the 1340s. She was one of the four children of Sir Robert de Brent of Cossington in Somerset and Claricia de la Ford.

Cossington is a village in north Somerset, 4 m NE of Bridgwater. It lies on the north side of the Polden Hills, which divide the Somerset Levels in two. It is believed to have been part of the Polden estate of Glastonbury Abbey, which was chief lord of the manor in Robert’s time. Robert was a great benefactor of the abbey.

From his home at Cossington manor, Robert and his family would have looked out across the Somerset Levels, with Glastonbury Tor to the east. The Bristol Channel once extended as far inland as Glastonbury. Drainage channels to create farmland were begun at least as early as the Norman Conquest. Abbeys like Glastonbury were major agents in this. Much of their income came from their farms. But in the 13th century, this drainage system was not yet complete. The view would have been one of areas of farmland, interspersed with undrained meres.

Robert is the only identified child of an older Robert de Brent and Elizabeth de Montacute. We know there were other children, because he and his brothers were jointly charged by the Bishop of Bath and Wells in 1315, but history has not preserved their names.

He was born in Cossington around 1285 in the reign of Edward I. His grandfather had been granted the manor some 31 years earlier.

The church of St Mary in Cossington was built in the 13th century, though it has been much reconstructed since then. It would still have been very new in Robert’s time.

Cossington Church and Pond [1]


CLARICIA/CLARISA DE LA FORD was the daughter of Sir Adam de la Ford, of Ford, in the parish of Bawdrip. He was lord of the manor of Ford, and of other lands in Wilts, Hants, and Essex.

Bawdrip is also in Somerset, only a mile from Cossington, but on the south side of the Polden Hills. The two families were near neighbours.

Claricia was born around 1290. There is some uncertainty about her mother’s name. She may have been Christian, but this is probably a confusion with her stepmother Christina. Her mother died before Claricia reached the age of majority and her father remarried to Christina.

She had a brother, Adam junior, who was their father’s heir.

Claricia grew up at the manor house of Ford in Bawdrip. This was probably on the site of the present Ford Farm.


The couple were contracted to marry when they were young, sometime before 1303.

In 1302-3 there was a contract between Robert, son of Robert de Brent, and Clarice his wife, and William de Barne concerning lands in Cossington, Wrington, Legh, South Brent and Glastonbury. Since the couple were under age, this is likely to be a contract arranged by their guardians.

In 1309 Robert’s father died, leaving Robert junior heir to his estates.

It was around this time that Robert married Claricia.

Their eldest child Robert junior was born around 1310.

The couple had four known children: Robert, who was their heir, John, who was later given lands in Charing in Kent previously in the possession of Claricia’s father Adam de la Ford, Joan, born around 1325, who married Thomas Denebaud of Hinton St George in Somerset, and Hawise, born around 1329, who married Hugh de Popham. Robert junior married Elizabeth Denebaud, sister of Joan’s husband Thomas Denebaud.

The long time between Robert’s birth and Hawise’s makes it likely that there were other children. Either they died young, or their names have been forgotten.

In 1311-12 Sir William Ridel created a mesne tenancy by granting Robert’s service to Baldwin Malet. Robert’s grandmother Millicent had married Baldwin’s great-uncle Raymond Malet after his grandfather’s death.

A mesne tenancy is a sublet by the original tenant

In 1312 Sir Robert de Brent of Somerset appears on the Banneret’s Roll of knights. His father had taken part in the campaigns of Edward I, but we have no record of the younger Robert’s military service.

In 1315 the Bishop of Bath and Wells accused Robert and his brothers of flooding crops and carrying away timber from land at Mark. Mark is a village on the Somerset Levels, north of Cossington and 5 m east of Burnham-on-Sea.

It would appear that Robert and his brothers had breached the flood defences.

The loss of crops was particularly serious at this time. This was a period of famine, caused by a succession of cold winters and wet summers, when crops failed. There was a high level of crime and food riots. Some parents were so desperate that they resorted to infanticide when they could not feed their children.

In 1322 a dispute over the advowson (the right to appoint the clergyman) for the church in Charlinch was decided in favour of Robert Brent. Charlinch is west of Bridgwater and 8 m west of Cossington.

Adam of Sodbury was Abbot of Glastonbury from 1323 to 1334. He was an architect who build a sea wall near Brent, as part of the ongoing effort to keep the sea from the Levels.


Claricia’s father died in 1325, leaving her brother Adam as his heir.

The same year, 1325, Baldwin Malet and Robert de Brente acknowledged that they owed Roger de Welesford £20, to be levied in default of payment of their lands and chattels in Somerset.

In the following years, Robert witnesses documents involving the Archdeacon of Wells and the Abbot of Glastonbury.


Robert de Brent of Cossington died either by 1331 or by 1351. He was buried on the north side of Glastonbury Abbey church, to which he had been a great benefactor.

Claricia’s brother Adam died childless in 1345, leaving her heir to the de la Ford estates.

Claricia died around 1351, when Edward III was on the throne.

Robert junior inherited his parents’ lands. He had a reputation for violence, having been involved in abducting a man indicted for murder from the fetters in which he was being held in Wrington, and for breaking into the house of the widow Margaret Beaupre and assaulting her and her servants.


[1] Postcard c.1905. Cossington Church and Pond.




Sampson Tree