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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



WILLIAM FERRERS was the son of John Ferrers of Churston Ferrers, south of Brixham.

William was still in his teens when his father died in 1324 and he inherited the family estates..

His grandfather Hugh had been MP for Devon in 1302. There is no record of his father having held public office, and William clearly had a dislike of public service.

Since the time of Henry III in the 13th century, freeholders with estates worth £20 p.a. or more were required to present themselves at court to be knighted. Knighthood required military obligations and was increasingly avoided. William appears in the distraint returns of 1334 and 1335, meaning that he had chosen to pay a fine, rather than be knighted. In 1348 he secured lifelong exemption from the dignity.

The king to whom he should have presented himself to be knighted was the long-reigning Edward III [1327-77]. King Edward was a noted warrior and turned England into one of the most formidable military powers in Europe. William Ferrers chose to play no part in this.

Edward III [1]

His resistance to knighthood was paralleled by a minimal contribution to the administration of Devon. Willliam did serve as a coroner, but his replacement in 1342 on account of old age seems rather odd for a man who must have been in his early thirties. Entirely in character, he subsequently procured an exemption from any further local duties.

The historian Richard Gorki, who made these observations, does not discuss the possibility that William may have suffered from some form of disability.[2] But, since his son followed a similar path, it was probably simply a reluctance to engage in public service.


His son John was born around 1330. We do not have the name of William’s wife.


In the Devon Lay Subsidy of 1332, William was assessed for property at Churston Ferrers, Bradworthy, and possibly Ringmare and Plymouth.


In 1348 the Black Death struck England, killing up to half the population. Since we do not know the date when William died, we cannot tell whether he survived it.


[1] Edward III from Nova Statuta, c.1470
[2] Gorki, Richard, The Fourteenth-Century Sheriff: English Local Administration in the Late Middle Ages. Boydell Press. 2003.




Sampson Tree