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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



HENRY DE WOOLAVINGTON. The Victoria County History of Somerset gives us the succession of lords of the manor of Woolavington and Cossington, based in the village of Woolavington.[1]

Henry of Woolavington (d. 1270-80) who was probably followed by Nicholas, a minor in 1280.  By 1306 Nicholas had been succeeded by his son Henry (fl. 1324), who may have been followed by John of Woolavington (fl. 1326-31) and Robert (fl. 1333-44).”

We do not know the name of Henry’s mother, or those of any siblings.

If Henry’s father was a minor in 1280 and died not later than 1306, then he would have lived no longer than into middle age. Henry himself would have been quite young when he inherited the lordship of the manor.

Most of his life was lived in the reign of Edward II. Edward was an unpopular king, with the people resenting the influence of his favourite Piers Gaveston. There were fears that he was ruining the kingdom. The wave of prosperity in the previous century was declining. From 1314 to 1316 there were exceptionally bad harvests and cattle plague. Many people died from starvation and disease.

By 1321 the king was at war with his barons. Henry de Woolavington would almost certainly have been knighted. We do not know what part he may have played in that war.

In 1324 Queen Isabella went to seek help from her brother Charles IV of France. She returned with an army and her lover Roger Mortimer, but not to aid King Edward. Instead, she deposed her husband and executed his influential friends Hugh le Despenser, senior and junior. She ruled as Regent for her young son Edward III. Edward II died in prison in 1327, almost certainly murdered.

Queen Isabella landing in England
with her son Edward 1326[2]


We have just one document that mentions Henry. It dates from 6 Edw II (1312-13). Henry would still have been a young man then.

Richard Gyverney and his wife Gunnora sued John Gyverney for a parcel of land consisting of a messuage (dwelling) worth 40s rent, and a third of a carucate (approx. 40 acres) in Limington, Yvelchester, Wells, Pury, Binegar, Eversey, Eston and Bridgwater. Also, in another suit, they sued him for one messuage, two carucates of land, 27 acres of pasture, and £6 rent in the same places. To both these suits John, son of John la Warre, and Henry de Woolavington put in their claims.[3]

We know that Henry’s ancestors had estates in several Somerset parishes around Woolavington.


Evidently, Robert Dunning, writing about Woolavington in the Victoria County History, had access to at least one other document referring to Henry, dated 1324, since he follows Henry’s name by “fl.1324”. “Fl” means “flourished”, and refers to evidence from that person’s lifetime.


There is some doubt about the succession. We are told that Henry is followed, probably, by John (fl. 1326-31) and Robert (fl. 1333-44). These dates are so close together that they suggest that John and Robert were brothers, rather than father and son. We are not explicitly told that either of them is Henry’s son, but this seems the most likely reason for the succession. We believe that John was the elder son, but died without issue, and the manor was inherited by Henry’s younger son Robert.

There is no mention of Henry’s wife.



[1] Woolavington in A History of the County of Somerset: Volume 8, the Poldens and the Levels, ed. Robert Dunning (London, 2004), British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/som/vol8/pp210-223.
[2] Jean Fouquet. Gallica Digital Library.
[3] Batten, John, “The Early Owners of Limington” 1887.




Sampson Tree