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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)



WILLIAM WHITING. Little is known about this generation. William was the son of Nicholas Whiting of Bruton in Somerset and Alianor Clyvedon, from a wealthy Somerset family. He was born in the second half of the 13th century, in the reign of the Plantagenet King Henry III or his successor Edward I.[1]

He had a brother John.

William’s father was a second son, so his own estates would not have been large, but his mother would have brought more land to the marriage.


ALIANOR HEREWARD.  There are conflicting pedigrees concerning the early Herewards.[2] The most probable interpretation is that Alianor was the daughter of John Hereward and Ellen Floyer. The Hereward home was Dodescot in St Giles in the Wood, near Great Torrington, North Devon. She brought family estates to the marriage and her family arms are quartered with those of the Whitings in the church at Kentisbeare.


As a young man, William would have been among the first to live under the Statute of Winchester of 1285. This required that every ablebodied man under 60 should arm himself at his own expense to defend the kingdom and maintain order.

In 1290 Edward I passed a law expelling all Jews from England. Financial affairs, in which they had played an important part, were passed to Italian banking houses.


The couple may have married in the very early years of the 14th century, towards the end of the reign of Edward I, or after the accession of Edward II in 1307. Their son Nicholas, who founded the Devon line of Whitings, is thought to have been born around 1310.

This was the year when William’s father, also called Nicholas, is believed to have died. If he was the elder son, William would have inherited the bulk of his parents’ lands. The fact that two of his sons moved from Somerset to Devon may mean that he was not the principal heir.


Alianor was well-connected. Her brother, Sir William Hereward, married Dulcia, or Douce, sister of Bishop Walter Stapledon of Exeter. He was a very rich and powerful man, who became Treasurer to the ill-fated King Edward II and was murdered by a London mob in a rebellion led by the queen in 1326. Two other sisters of Bishop Stapledon were our direct ancestors: Joan, who married Thomas Keynes, and one whose first name is unknown, who married John Prudhome.[3] Alianor and William would have moved in the same social circle and would almost certainly have met them.

The couple are believed to have had four sons. Nicholas was a lawyer. He moved first to Sidbury in Devon, not far from the Channel coast at Sidmouth. He then became the first Whiting to occupy the manor house of Woode, in Kentisbeare. He was elected MP for Devon and a number of boroughs and took a turn as Sheriff of Devon. Another son, Thomas, was Recorder of the Mayor’s Court in Exeter in the reign of Edward III. William and Alianor must have secured a good education for their children. Nicholas would have been fluent in three languages. Their other sons were Peter and Henry.

There is further information about the complicated transfers of property between the Hereward, Stapledon and Berkeley families in the Berkeley Castle Muniments.[i]

In 1318 William Hereward (brother of Alianor) bought the manor of Compton Greenfield (Glos.) from Bartholomew de Greneville and his wife Anne, and in 1320 this too was settled, through Walter Stapledon, on William and his issue, with remainder to Richard Stapledon (Bishop Walter’s brother) and his issue and William’s.

In 1326 Edward II’s queen Isabella returned from a mission to France with her lover Roger Mortimer and an armed force. She set out to seize the kingdom from her husband. Bishop Walter Stapeldon, brother to Alianor’s sister-in-law Douce, sought to defend London for the king. He was dragged from St Pauls’s by a mob and murdered in the street. Alianor’s family, the Herewards, would have been shocked at the news.

What they thought about the subsequent capture of Edward II and his death in prison in suspicious circumstances is less clear. In 1323 Alianor’s brother (or nephew) Sir William Hereward of Dodscott near Torrington was among the knights accused of disaffection towards Edward II.

In April 1328 a fine between Bartholomew le Seneschal and William’s son William Hereward and his wife Elizabeth settled the manors of Deep Moor and Dodscott, with 40 messuages in Great Torrington (Devon), on William and Elizabeth and their issue.


William appears to have died before 1351.

Alianor survived him. She, and perhaps William, lived to see the start of the Hundred Years War in 1337 and the devastating Black Death, which began in 1348.


The first recorded link to Woode in Kentisbeare, where William and Alianor’s son and his descendants were to live for the next two centuries, involved a nephew of Alianor. In 1351, Robert Hereward, archdeacon of Taunton, John Dabernoun, John de Chudleigh and Henry Walrond gave William and Alianor’s son Nicholas and his wife Margaret lands, woods and tenements at Woode in that parish, and also at nearby Luttockshele and Cullompton. These were to revert to the widowed Alianor if Nicholas should die without heirs of his body. This indicates that these estates had previously been Hereward lands.


[1] Unless otherwise stated information on the Whiting family is from Richard Whiting. Whiting of Wood: A Mediaeval Landed Family, 1974 (MS in DRO).
[4] www.a2a.org.uk. BCM/A/2/20.
[5] Sir William Pole (d.1635), Collections Towards a Description  of the County of Devon,(1791),  p.231.
[6] Pole.
[7] www.a2a.org.uk. BCM/A/2/20.





Sampson Tree