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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



ROBERT FITZPAYNE was lord of the manor of Witheridge in the mid-13th century. Witheridge lies ten miles west of Tiverton, in what was then an area of high, wet moors. It was the administrative centre of the Witheridge Hundred.

Cheriton Fitzpaine takes its name from this family.

Robert was born in 1225, nine years into the long reign of the Plantagenet King Henry III. He was the son of Roger and Margery Fitzpayne. Margery had a park at Poole Keynes in Wiltshire. She may have been one of the Keynes family, a branch of which held the castle of Winkleigh Keynes in north Devon.

Robert was only two when his father died, leaving him heir to his estates.

He married before he was 20.


NESTA or ROBERGIA.[1] There is conflicting evidence about the name of Robert’s wife. He may have married twice. It is Nesta who is named as the mother of Matilda. [2] Her surname is unknown.

There are indications that she came from the extreme north-west of Devon, in or near Woolacombe. Over Woolacombe lies just inland from the long beach of Woolcombe Sand. If this interpretation of Margaret Cruwys’s information is correct, it is still not clear whether this was Nesta’s family’s principal home, or whether it was just one of her father’s estates, which she inherited.


They appear to have had a son Robert.

There was also their daughter Matilda, who married Sir Robert Cruwys, lord of the manor of Cruwys Morchard, five miles away. She brought him the estate of Over Wollecomb in the parish of Mortehoe. This may have been where Nesta came from. Margaret Cruwys says Robert got it ‘from his wife Matilda, daughter of Robert Fitzpayne of Witheridge and Nesta his wife, who held Over Wollecomb in 1242.’ It is not quite clear whether this estate was Robert’s or Nesta’s, but three generations later, another lord of the manor of Cruwys Morchard married an heiress from that same area.[3]

An unnamed daughter died in or before 1245.


In 1246, at the age of 21, Robert came of age. No doubt his extensive lands had been held in trust for him until then.

Sir Robert Fitz Payn’s arms were gules, three lions passant argent, overall a bend azure.

W.G. Hoskins writes: ‘In 1248 Robertson of Pagan (Fitzpaine), Lord of Witheridge, was granted a weekly market on Wednesdays and a three-day fair on the eve, feast and morrow of the Nativity of St John the Baptist, the dedication festival of the parish church (June 24).’[4] He was then only 23.

Robert was knighted. He travelled widely, visiting the great pilgrimage site of Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain at the age of 27. Two years later, in 1254, he accompanied Henry III’s queen, Eleanor of Provence, to join King Henry III in south-west France.

In 1258, the king called on his services to fight the Welsh.

We do not part what part Robert played in the Barons’ War of the 1260s, when discontent with Henry’s misrule led his brother-in-law Simon de Montfort to spearhead a revolt.


Robert died at the age of 56, in 1280-81. By then, Henry III’s 56-year reign had ended and he had been succeeded by Edward I.


Sir William Pole writes: “I will in the next place sett downe such personages as held their lands from the Crowne immediately, & after insert the names of those wch I finde to have bine of best worth wthin this countye, havinge either dwellings or lands; beginninge from the Conqueror unto these prsents dayes, as I find them by records out of ye Towne, thexchecquer, & such deedes & evidences which in my searches I have founde.

KING EDWARD I.  Robert Fizpayne, Kt, held Witherige, died 9 Ed.I.[5]

Dates at that time were not reckoned from the birth of Christ, but from the beginning of a monarch’s reign. 9 Ed.I is the ninth year of the reign of Edward I.

Pole also lists for Edward I’s reign:

Robert Fitzpayne, of Estoodleigh, Kt.

This Robert is probably Robert and Nesta’s son and heir. Estoodleigh is Stoodleigh, a little village 8 miles NE of Witheridge. No doubt it was another of his father’s manors.


Mike Sampson (my second cousin and local historian) has compiled a biography of Sir Robert from contemporary documents.


Robert FitzPayne (1225 – 1281)

1225    Robert born.

1227    Robert’s father Roger dies.

1238    Order to Robert’s free tenants to contribute to the marriage of his sister.

Robert’s mother, Margery, to pay back £666.13s.4d. that King Henry III allowed her for keeping her husband’s lands.

1241    Gift from the King to Robert’s mother of six fallow bucks and two does to stock her park of Poole Keynes in Wiltshire.

1242    Robert holds Witheridge from the heirs of William Brewer, in return for 60s. when required.

1244    The King, on the insistence of Robert, pardons the inhabitants of Witheridge for letting Roger Caillewe, a thief, escape.

1245    The Treasury ordered to pay 12s. to buy a silken cloth to place in St Katherine’s Chapel at Westminster for the soul of Robert’s daughter.

1246    Robert comes of age.

1248    The King gives Robert three bucks from Braydon Forest in Wiltshire. Grant to Robert and his heirs of free warren in Witheridge manor, and of a weekly market on Wednesdays, and an annual fair on the vigil, feast and morrow of the Nativity of St John the Baptist.

1249    The King gives a tun of wine to Robergia, Robert’s wife, and a stag from the park at Purbeck.

1252    Robert goes on a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain – the burial place of St James the Apostle.

The sheriff of Devon ordered to pay Robert’s wife £3.6s.8d. to buy herself a palfrey.

1254    Protection given to Robert who is going with the Queen on her journey to join the King in south-west France.

1256    Robert summoned to fight the Welsh.

1281    Robert died holding Stoke-in-Teignhead, Cove and Mere and Witheridge in Devon, as well as lands in Dorset, Somerset and Wiltshire.[6]

In 1275-6, a Robert FitzPayn was one of two sureties for Thomas de Berkele, who had been ordered to pay a fine of 500 marks as a fine for hunting on royal land. [7]



[1] Mike Sampson, in Peter and Freda Tout and John Usmar, The Book of Witheridge: A Parish Through the Centuries, (Halsgrove, 2003), p.18
[2] M.C.S. Cruwys, Records at Cruwys Morchard. Trans. Dev. Assocn. Vol. 84. 1954, 1-19.
[3] Cruwys.
[4] W.G.Hoskins, Devon, David & Charles, 1972, p.517.
[5] Sir William Pole (d.1635), Collections Towards a Description  of the County of Devon,(1791), p.50.
[6] Compiled by Mike Sampson, in Peter and Freda Tout and John Usmar, The Book of Witheridge: A Parish Through the Centuries, (Halsgrove, 2003), p.18.
[7] National Archives: Berkeley Castle Muniments:  BCM/A/5/6/1  [1275-6]





Sampson Tree