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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)



JOHN AYSHFORD was the eldest son and heir of John Ayshford and Margaret Woodford. His father owned the Ayshford estate at Burlescombe in East Devon and other estates brought as dowry by Ayshford brides. His mother was also an heiress, bringing lands in south Devon.

He was probably born towards the end of the 13th century, in the reign of Edward I.


CONSTANCE WORTH was the daughter of Alexander Worth of Worth, just over a mile NW of Tiverton, beside the River Exe. He was descended from the daughter of Richard Redvers, second Earl of Devon. When the male line of the Redvers family died out, Alexander claimed that the title should descend to him. After litigation lasting from 1293 to 1335 the royal courts finally decided in favour of Hugh de Courteny, descendant of Robert Courtenay, who had married a daughter of the 5th earl. The Courtenays were already a rich and powerful family, and became even more so, while the Worths lapsed into comfortable obscurity.


Under Edward II 1314-16 was an exceptionally hard time, with bad harvests and cattle disease. The Ayshfords were doubtless able to weather this better than most, but there were many deaths from poverty and disease in the countryside.


John and Constance had a number of sons. The eldest son and heir was another John. Others were Simon, mentioned in 1328, Nicholas, Robert, who may be the Robert Ayshford mentioned in Exeter in 1349 and also a burgess recorded in Tavistock in 1370.

The black sheep of the family seems to have been Thomas. Various writs were issued by the King’s Bench in 1388 ordering the apprehension of Thomas Ayshford. He was accused of “trying to pass to foreign parts to the prejudice of the King and many of the people”. Heather Ayshford says: “There was an investigation by John Cheney, clerk, and a later demand for the release of the said John Cheney! So maybe Thomas had been a VERY bad boy. More likely the whole affair was connected with the severe persecution of the Lollards at this date. (Lollards were a kind of early Protestant who wanted greater purity in members of the increasingly corrupt Church.)” She does not cite her evidence for linking Thomas Ayshford with them.


John seems to have died comparatively young, before 1328, since his son John junior is then granting lands in Ayshford.


[1] F. & H. Ayshford, Notes Towards a History of the Ayshford Family of Devon. Typescript booklet.




Sampson Tree