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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)




THOMAS KEYNES was the son of John Keynes, lord of the manor of Winkleigh Keynes, and Isabell Wake, an heiress from Dowlish Wake in Somerset.[1] He was born at Christmas in either 1326 or in 1328; there are two Inquisitions Post Mortem for his father which give different dates.[2]

It was a time of upheaval in England. In 1326, Queen Isabella, who had been on a mission to France, returned with her lover Roger Mortimer and an army. The discontented barons rallied to her cause. The unpopular King Edward II was deposed and imprisoned. He died the following year, probably murdered.


Thomas’s father died in September 1328. If the first birth date is right, Thomas was one year old, if the second, then he was born posthumously. It is thus almost certain that he was the only son. We do not know if he had any sisters.

Thomas became, in name at least, a ward of the boy King Edward III, but in time, the guardianship passed to Hugh Despenser, son of the powerful baron of that name. Two older Hugh Despensers had been killed in the rebellion of 1326.  Yet the surviving Despensers continued to wield power. When Thomas was 11, Hugh Despenser’s widowed mother was in possession of the boy’s lands and Hugh petitioned to take them over from her.

CAYNES, John de                 13 Edw.III [1339]
Chancery Inq. p.m. Edw.III.  File 60 (13)
Formerly No.35.

m.1.  Writ of certiorari, on the petition of Hugh le Despenser, son & heir of Eleanor, late wife of Hugh le Despenser, his father, praying that whereas the King lately caused to be restored to the said Eleanor all the lands, &c., of her inheritance which were in the King’s hand after her husband’s death, he would cause to be delivered to petitioner the lands, &c., in Wynkelegh, co. Devon, which John de Caynes, deceased, held of the said inheritance, which were taken into the King’s hand by reason of the death of said John & the minority of his heir: the wardship whereof now pertains to said Hugh. Dated at Kenyngton 25 Oct. 13 Edw.III. [1339].

m.2.  Devon.

Inquisition taken at Exeter, Tuesday the feast of St. Andrew 13 Edw.III. [30 Nov. 1339], before Ralph de Middelneye, escheator, by the oath of William de Radeford, Robert de Ayshlegh, Henry Bobich, William de Colecot, Henry Pollard, John Brigge, William Mayour, John de Mosefenne, Richard Pestour, Philip de Wyke, Ralph de Legh & Henry de Gredelyne: who say that John de Caynes held a carucate of land in Wynkelegh, of the honor of Gloucester, by ½ a knight’s fee; of the inheritance of Eleanor who was wife of Hugh le Despenser, worth by the year, clear, £5.19s.1d. One carucate in Weryngeston, held of the manor of Braneys, in the hand of Hugh Daudele; worth &c. £2. One carucate in Thorry by Hertilaund, held of John de Dynham, worth, &c. 36s.

John de Caynes died Thursday before Michaelmas 2 Edw.III. [Thursday 22 Sept. 1328][1]

Thomas, son & heir, aged 11 at Christmas next [1339].

These lands were in Winkleigh, where Court Castle was probably still the family home, Thorry, now Docton, in the parish of Hartland in North Devon, and Werringstone, now Newton, in the parishes of Awliscombe and Buckerell near Honiton.

We do not know whether Thomas grew up at Winkleigh Castle, or whether he went with his mother to her home in Dowlish Wake, where she was the sole heir of her father and the last of the Wakes in that parish. There is a memorial to her in the church, but she may have retired there after Thomas married.


MARGARET BEAUMONT was the daughter of Sir John Beaumont of Youlstone. There is a family tree which gives her mother as Alis Scudamore, but this a confusion with Alice Scudamore, descended from Owen Glendower, who married a different Sir John Beaumont.[3]. We have no certain information about Margaret’s mother’s name.

Youlstone is near the northernmost point of the Devon-Cornwall border, in the parish of Bradworthy, nine miles north west of Holsworthy.


There is a Feudal Aid, somewhat damaged, dated around 1346 concerning ‘Thomas son of John Caygnys… Wynklegh of the honor of Gloucester in which Thomas Caygnys held it … 20s.’

Another says:

1346  Hundredum de Hemyok

De Thomas Caynghys pro quarta parte un. f. m. in Werynghyston, tenta de honore de Bradenynch, quam Johannes Toylero et Henricus de Membyry quondam tenuerunt, in casto (sic) principis, ratione minoris etatis heredis ipsius Thome                                  x.s.


Thomas was 21 years old, and Margaret perhaps in her teens, when Devon was devastated by the Black Death. It arrived in 1348 at Wareham in Dorset in a cargo of wool. The West Country was very badly affected, in the middle of the countryside, as well a in the towns.’ In 1337, England and France began the so-called Hundred Years War, but as far as local history is concerned, it is the Black Death which dominates this century. The holdings of Court Barton, and probably of Court Castle before that, included Carrion Pit Field. This is probably a mass grave of plague victims.[4]

‘There was an enquiry held in Winkleigh in 1354 which gives us an idea of how devastated Winkleigh was by the plague, and makes us think that Carrion Pit Lane may, indeed be a plague pit. Among those who swore oaths were John de Colecot, senior and junior, and John Kingsland. They swore that there was not a manor house in the parish which pays rent, but there are various lands and houses empty which the lord claims the rent for.  They were empty because of the Pestilence and are still empty, and are worth £3.18.7d. There are still rents collected for £14.16.7d and the following rents  2lbs of pepper worth 2/8; 2lbs cumin worth 4d and a pair of gloves worth 1/2d.

‘It appears from the rents that about a quarter of Winkleigh’s population was wiped out by this disease, which reached England

Two parish priests of Winkleigh, Ralph de Treytheck and Walter Jordan, died in the same year, 1349, from the plague.[5]

Thomas and Margaret survived. They probably married about 1352.

We know the name of only one of their children, their eldest son John. He was born on 28 Nov 1352.

When John became 21 an Inquisition Post Mortem was held to confirm his age and prove that he had indeed reached his majority. Witnesses came forward to testify to having known him as a baby. Their evidence provides a snapshot of the young family’s circle of acquaintances:

John Jolyff, the parish clerk, wrote the child’s age in the church missal the day he was born.

John Michel’s serving maid, Joan atte Were, had just lost her own baby. Margaret employed her as a wet nurse for John.

John was baptised by Philip Vautard, chaplain of All Saints, Winkleigh. Sybil Southcote was his godmother and her son William also attended the baptism.

Walter Bobbych remembered it because his wife Maud was buried the same day. So did John Caperoun and Edith Nicol, because they were married the same week.

On the Sunday after St. Nicholas [9 Dec. 1352], Margaret attended church for the first time after the birth to be ‘purified’. Thomas’s friends, Thomas Hoye, John Lacy, Stephen Coterel, William Gyfford and Roger Aschford, were with Thomas that Sunday. Doubtless this was an occasion for the men to ‘wet the baby’s head’.[6]

An Inquisition held at Winkleigh in 1353 showed the continuing devastation caused by the Black Death, not all of it detrimental to the Keynes family. It revealed ‘a long list of vacant lands which fell into the lord of the manor’ hands, worth 68 shillings and sevenpence.’[7]

In 1354 Thomas was involved in the death of William Berd, in circumstances which are unclear. He receive pardon, ‘of special grace’.[8]

It was probably during Thomas’s lifetime that another Winkleigh man was given permission to fortify his house. ‘By the reign of Edward III [1327-1377] the Charter Roll shows that Richard Englysh was the owner of Hollocombe, a manor house in a hamlet to the north of Winkleigh village. He had obtained a very rare privilege. He was granted the Kings licence for crenellating Hollocombe. To crenellate meant to build battlements, or to fortify the house, like a castle. To do this without permission was regarded as an act of treason, and very few permits were granted. In the whole of Devon only 20 were granted in the years 1200 to 1500.’[9]

If, as is probable, the Keyneses were still living at Winkleigh Castle, then that would no doubt already be fortified, though it was not a stone castle.


Work was also done on the parish church in this century. ‘The church is, in origin, mainly of the 14th and 15th Century – although parts date to the 13th, such as the chancel. The tower is of the 14th century, but the upper portion has been rebuilt… A window at the western end of the Aisle has some ancient 14th Century glass showing four angels holding shields inscribed with the instruments and emblems of the Crucifixion….The roofs… are “cradle roofs”, and very richly carved. The Nave roof has 70 Angels carved on it.’[10] This fine painted roof has survived the extensive 19th century alterations.

                 Porch roof


Thomas had lost his own father when he was a baby. If, as seems likely, he is the Thomas de Keynis junior whose IPM was held on 29 Nov 1361, then he himself died on Thursday 21 October, when his eldest son John was only nine. Probably by then there were younger children too. Thomas would have been about 39.

It is not clear why Thomas was called ‘junior’. His grandfather, Thomas de Kaygnes, had died in 1308. Perhaps there was an uncle Thomas still alive.

KEYNIS, Thomas de, junior.                          35 Edw.III. [1361]
Chancery Inq. p.m.  Edw.III.  File 159 (107)
m.1.& 2.  Somerset.
m.3. Writ to the escheator of Devon, dated at Westminster 8 Nov. 35 Edw.III. [1361].
m.4. Devon.

Inquisition taken at Wynkelegh Monday before St. Andrew 35 Edw.III. [Monday 29 Nov.1361], before Thomas Cheyne, escheator, by the oath of William Bobisshe, John Colecote, jun. William Michel, Henry Wyther, John Penston, Roger Aysshelegh, John Mair, William Mair, John Colecote, sen., John Smethe, Robert Bryggeman & John Elys who say that Thomas de Kayniz had at Wynkelegh Kayniz one capital messuage worth nought beyond reprises, one carucate of land, worth by the year, clear, 10s., 9 acres of meadow 4s 6d., 1 water-mill, 2s. 100 acres of large wood 10s. rents of assize £3. 0s. 1½d. The tithing-man of Wynkelegh Tracey was wont to present the assize of bread & bear at the Royal Court from time immemorial, & has withdrawn himself for 8 years past; yearly damage 3s. 4d. The said messuage is held of Edward le Despenser, Knt., by ½ a knight’s fee.

Also a messuage & carucate in Thorri in the hundred of Hertelond, worth yearly 10s., held of John de Dynham, Knt., in free socage, by rent of 6d. & 1 lb. of pepper.

Also a carucate at Weringiston, worth yearly 10s. & 10 acres of meadow 5s.

Thomas de Kaynz died Thursday before SS. Simon & Jude last past [Thursday 21 Oct.1361].

John, son & heir, aged 9.

m.5-7.        Southampton.

He held the same lands in Devon as his father did: at Winkleigh, Thorry and Werringstone. Only the estate at Winkleigh is listed as having a capital messuage, or manor house. He also has land in Somerset. This must be the estate he inherited from his mother Isabel, the last of the Wake family to live at Dowlish Wake. The pages relating to Southampton suggest he had lands in Hampshire, too.

As with Thomas’s father, we do not know whether he died early from illness, accident or warfare.


In 1378-9, William Beaumont was Sheriff of Devonshire. He may be Margaret’s brother.[11]

We do not know when Margaret died.



[1] sic: 1327; 1 Edw.III ?

[1] Sir William Pole (d.1635), Collections Towards a Description  of the County of Devon,(1791), p.431.

[2] IPM John de Caynes 1328; IPM John de Caynes 1339. [WSL]

[3] http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~jamesdow/s091/f041518.htm www.gordonrosalynd.tripod.com/green/d36.htm#P8446
[4] Lesley McLean, ed., Winkleigh: A View of their Parish by the People of Winkleigh, (Beaford Arts Centre, 1997), p.22.
[5] McLean, p.63.
[6] IPM John son of Thomas de Keynes 1373.
[7] Lawrence Molland, A History of the Parish of Winkleigh in the County of Devon, (MS; WSL), p.191.
[8] Molland, p.166.
[9] McLean, p.36.
[10] McLean, p.56.
[11] Pole, p.95.





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