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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



JOHN BAMPFIELD was the only known child of an older John Bampfield and Eleanor Beauchamp. There were probably other children.

As the eldest son and heir, John is likely to have been born in the 1290s, since we believe his parents married in 1292. This was in the latter years of the reign of Edward I.

He was probably born in the Bampfyldes’ manor in Weston Bampfylde in Somerset, between Yeovil and Castle Cary.

In 1298 his father was given the manor of Poltimore in Devon by his former tutor at Exeter Cathedral School. Poltimore is a village 4 miles north of Exeter. The Bampfyldes moved there and it became their family home.

Both the present Poltimore House and the parish church are later than the 13th century, being built by descendants of these Bampfyldes. The original manor house is thought to have been nearer to the village centre and to the older church than Poltimore House. Nothing of it now remains. We do not know whether it was built from local cob, or of stone, like the Three Crowns Inn in Chagford, which began life as a 13th-century manor house. The roof would almost certainly have been thatched.

The Three Crowns, Chagford.[1]

Most houses of the time were single storey. The manor house would have been more imposing, with a great hall, other smaller rooms alongside it and others over them.


JOANE DE MERTON was the daughter and co-heiress of Sir Richard de Merton of Merton in North Devon. Merton lies south of Great Torrington. The River Torridge and its tributary the River Mere loop around its boundary.

The Merton family held a part share of the feudal barony of Great Torrington.

Joan’s mother was Margaret Clyvedon, and she was the second of three sisters.

When her mother died, Sir Richard remarried to Matilda. She gave birth to another daughter. The absence of any other children suggests that she died in childbirth.


John Bampfield was Joan’s first husband. The standing of the Merton family made this match more favourable to the Bampfields than to hers.

They are thought to have married about 1335. It is likely that Joan was considerably younger than John.


There are many different versions of the Bampfylde family tree. Thomas Wotton inserts two more generations after this, giving John and Joan a son John, who married Joan Cobham, and a grandson John, who married first Joanna Gilbert and then Joanna Hastings.[2] This is similar, though not identical to the family tree given on Wikipedia ‘The Manor of Poltimore’.

This produces rather more generations in the 13th century than is comfortable. I have followed the recent and well-researached Stirnet ‘Bampfylde 1’ tree, supported by Vivian.[3] They name the couple’s son and heir as Thomas.

On 5 March 1340/41 “John de Bamfeld” is recorded as patron of the Rectory of Poltimore.[9]

John died by1363,

Joan married again to Sir John de la Pomeroy. He was the feudal baron of Berry Pomeroy. This lies 20 m south of Exeter and 2 m east of Totnes.

This was a much more prestigious marriage. Sir John owned substantial estates in Devon and Cornwall, and castles at Berry Pomeroy and Tregony.

Joan brought him lands at Nymet St George and Kilmington.

Sir John de Pomeroy was appointed Sheriff of Devon on 30 Sep 1399, the first day of Henry IV’s reign. He lost the office a month later, on 3 Nov. Henry had usurped the throne, after overthrowing and imprisoning Richard II. This left many of Richard’s supporters plotting against the new king. Doubtless, King Henry suspected that Sir John favoured the wrong side, though no charges were brought against him.

There were no children from this marriage.

Sir John died in 1416. Joan was required to take an oath not to remarry without the King’s licence.

Some biographies give her another husband, Sir James Chudleigh of Ashton in Devon, either before or after Sir John de la Pomeroy. It may be true that he was her second husband, and she could be the mother of his son James. Or this may be a confusion with Sir John de la Pomeroy’s sister Joan Chudleigh, whose daughter Joan was his co-heir.

Joan died in 1420, more than fifty years after her first husband John Bampfield.


[1] Pub History. Three Crowns Hotel, Chagford.
[2] Thomas Wotton, ‘Bamfylde of Poltimore’ in The English Baronetage, Vol 2. 1741.
[3] J.L Vivian, Visitation. Devon. ‘Bamfield of Poltimore’, 1895





Sampson Tree