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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 HEREWARD. There is considerable confusion about the ancestry of Alianor Hereward, who is said to be the wife of William Whiting of Bruton in Somerset, and mother of Nicholas Whiting, the first of that family to live at Woode in Kentisbeare.

Richard Whiting supplies a family tree for ‘Hereward of Great Torrington’. It begins with ‘Hamelin Hereward, flor.1242’, and gives him two sons, ‘Richard, flor.1269’ and ‘Roger, flor.1256’.[1]

It shows Richard as having a son ‘Sir John = Dulcia d/o Walter Stapledon’ and a daughter, ‘Alianor ux William Whiting of (?) Bruton, Somerset’.


Hamelin flor. 1242
Richard  flor.1269.             Roger flor.1256
Sir John = Dulcia d/o Walter de Stapledon.    Alianor ux William Whiting of (?) Bruton, Somerset
Sir William.  Agnes.  Robert Archdeacon of Totnes.  Fina.  John. Nicholas.  Margery. Mary


In the text of his booklet he backs this up by saying that Alianor was the sister of Sir John Hereward, father of the Archdeacon Robert.

Whiting, however, appears to be mistaken in saying that Sir John Hereward married Dulcia Stapledon. The Berkeley Castle Muniments say that her husband was William Hereward, not John. ‘William Hereward married Douce, sister of Walter Stapledon, bishop of Exeter (d. 1326), and of Richard Stapledon (d. 1332).’[2]


Tim Sandberg, using the archives of the Floyer family, has a different tree.[3] His begins with Sir Thomas Hereward m ?, of Dodescot, Devon’.

Sir Thomas Hereward of Dodescot, Devon m ?

│              _______________________________________________________

│                                                                                                        │

John m?                                                                                    Sir Hamelin m ?

│                                                                                                        │

Fina b abt 1279 m William Floer  abt 1311                                    John m Ellen (Elinor) Floer
in Doddescot, Gt Torrington

│                                                                                                         │

John Floer b before 1329                                                            Sir William m Dulcia Stapledon

│      __________________________________________________________________________

│                    │                      │                     │                      │                       │                        │

Sir William      Robert           Thomas              Alice               Agnes             Margerie             Mabel
│     Prebend of Hereford                                                            m Sir Thomas Molton  m Ralph Shore

Joan m Maurice

Berkeley  abt 1355


This tree makes no mention of Richard and Roger. It gives Thomas two sons, John and Hamelin. Both sons had children who married into the Floyer family. John’s daughter Fina married William Floer abt.1270; Hamelin’s son John married Ellen (Elinor) Floyer. John and Ellen Hereward had a son William. Tim Sandberg agrees with the Berkeley Castle records in saying that it was Sir William Hereward who married Dulcia Stapledon.

Alianor is not mentioned in this second pedigree. If Richard Whiting is correct in saying she was the sister-in-law of Douce (Dulcia) Stapledon and the granddaughter of Hamelin Hereward, then on this tree her parents would be John Hereward and Elinor Floer. The fact that she is the namesake of Elinor Floyer is not conclusive, but supports this assumption. It fits with the supposed date around 1310 for the birth of her son Nicholas Whiting, which makes her an approximate contemporary of Douce Stapledon.


Sir William Pole, listing the landed families of Devon, only goes back as far as Nicholas Whiting of Woode for the Whiting family, and does not give a pedigree of the Hereward family. But he does make several mentions of the Herewards, supporting the link Sandberg makes with the Floyer family and throwing more light on the lands they held.[4]

He makes the father of John Hereward neither Richard (as in Whiting’s pedigree) nor Hamelin (as in Sandberg’s), but an elder John.  Pole was researching in the 17th century and compiling pedigrees of landed families across the county. His work is known to contain inaccuracies. He must be considered a less reliable source than the archives of a single family. His own daughter, Eleanor, however, married Anthony Floyer, so we may suppose he was better informed about the Floyer family.


A tentative Hereward ancestry thus seems to be:

  1. Thomas Hereward of Dodescot
    24. Hamelin Hereward m. Rose
    23. John Hereward m. Ellen (Elinor) Floyer
    22. Alianor Hereward m. William Whiting

 We know the first name of John Hereward’s mother from a document of 1259 that names “Hamelin Hereward and Rose his wife”.[5]

Two documents name John’s father Hamelin Hereward as “of Romansleigh”. It is likely that John grew up in this North Devon village near South Molton, rather than in the ancestral manor of Dodscott, now St Giles in the Wood, near Great Torrington. His uncle John seems to have inherited that.

We have no information about his siblings.


ELLEN/ELINOR FLOYER. A number of references to the Hereward lands tell us that Ellen was the daughter of John Floyer and that he gave her several estates as her dowry when she married John Hereward.

Sir William Pole lists these as:

FLOYERHAYS. John Floyer gave in marriage wth Ellen his daughter unto John, ye sonne of John Hereward, all his land in Ernscomb in frank marriage, and fortie shillings land, wch John Hereward had given in marriage wth Fina his sister unto Willam Floyer his sonne.

ERNSCOMB, or Great Ernscomb, lieth remote wthin ye hundred of Sheabeare, beyond Bideforde, yeat it is of the hundred of Hartland. Sabina, the widowe of Floier, the sonne of Richard, gave this land unto John Floyer her eldest sonne, wch gave the same unto John Hereward, the sonne of John Hereward, wth Ellen his daughter, together wth ye part of Ernscombe, wch hee had in marriage wth Fina, sister of the said John, unto Willam Floyer his sonne.[6]


Pole indicates that Ellen and William Floyer were brother and sister. Sandberg’s tree makes John and Fina Hereward first cousins.

John Burke, in his history of leading commoners, tells us that Ellen’s mother was Marriott.[7]


We know that Ernscombe was owned jointly by John Floyer and John Hereward at the end of the 13th century:

Hugh Peverell, John Floier, & John Hereward, held Much Ernscomb, or Great Ernscomb, in fee socage of the heires of Toryton, anno 24 of Kinge Edw I [1295-6].[8]


Floyers Hayes was the home of the Floyers from at least as early as the Domesday Book until about 1580. It lay across the river from the walled city of Exeter, between the present Alphington Road and Haven Banks. This is where Ellen and William would have grown up. There is no trace of the manor house now, but it appears on old maps of Exeter.

 Floyer Hayes, detail from a 1617 map of the City of Exeter in the 6th volume of Civitates Orbis Terrarum by Georg Braun (1541-1622) [9]


The dates given by John Burke in his history of influential commoners place John and Ellen’s lives in the second half of the 13th century, and possibly into the 14th. [10]In 1285 the Statute of Winchester of

Edward I decreed that every man under 60 must arm himself at his own expense to defend the kingdom and help maintain order. Constables in every hundred were to make regular inspections and compile muster rolls. Gentry like the Herewards and the Floyers would have taken a leading role in this.

They had at least two children: William and Alianor.

John and Ellen’s son William Hereward married Douce, sister of Walter Stapeldon, who was bishop of Exeter and treasurer to the unpopular king Edward II. William added more lands to the Hereward estates.

The Berkeley Castle Muniments provide details of these Hereward lands. They list the manors of Compton Greenfield (Glos.). Pencarrow (Cornw.), and Deep Moor, Dodscott and Blinsham (Devon).[11] Compton Greenfield, at least, was not bought until 1318. Some appear to have come to William Hereward or his son of that name, through marriage. The one manor we can be sure of as being Hereward ancestral lands is Dodscott, now St Giles in the Wood.

The church of St Giles the Hermit at West Dodscott was not in existence for earlier Hereward generations. It was founded in 1309 as a chapelry of Torrington, with the consent of Sir Richard Martin, patron of Torrington, and Walter Stapledon, bishop of Exeter, (though Hoskins has found no reference to it in Stapledon’s Register).

It may be that the chapel of St Giles was granted at the request of Bishop Stapledon’s brother-in-law, William Hereward, who was the son of John and Elinor and probably Alianor’s brother.

St Giles in the Wood [12]

The church was dedicated to St Egidius (anglicised as St Giles). The first mention of the name which Hoskins found is in 1330, when the village was known as Stow St Giles. ‘Stow’ indicates a place

dedicated to a particular saint or religious purpose. The addition of ‘in-the-Wood’ is quite recent, to distinguish it from St Giles-on-the-Heath, near Launceston.

Hoskins says this date supports the assertion that the church was built in 1309


In 1318 William Hereward, son of John and Ellen, bought the manor of Compton Greenfield. Glos from Bartholomew de Greneville and in 1320 this was settled through Bishop Walter Stapledon on William Hereward and his issue, with the remainder to Richard Stapledon and his issue and William’s heirs.


Sir William Hereward, who was either John and Ellen’s son or their grandson, was knight of the shire (an early form of MP) for both Devon in 1320 and both Devon and Cornwall in 1324.[13] This coincides with Bishop Stapeldon’s tenure as Treasurer of the Exchequer. He is referred to as Sir William Hereward of St Giles in the Wood and is described as a familiaris  of the bishop. [14] He also served in Scotland.[15]


We do not have the dates of John and Ellen’s deaths. They probably died in the early 14th century.


[1] Richard Whiting. Whiting of Wood: A Mediaeval Landed Family, 1974 (MS in DRO).
[2] www.a2a.org.uk. BCM/A/2/20.
[3] Tim Sandberg’s Genealogy Database. www.world.connect.genealogy.rootsweb.com
[4] Sir William Pole (d.1635), Collections Towards a Description  of the County of Devon,(1791).
[5] finerollshenry3.org.uk › content › calendar › roll_056 [1259]
[6] Pole
[7] John Burke: A Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Commoners of Great Britain and Ireland: Enjoying Terrestrial Possessions or High Official Rank; but Uninvested with Heritable Honours. Colburn 1833.
[8] Pole

[10] Burke.
[11] M. Buck, Politics, Finance and the Church in the Reign of Edward II: Walter Stapledon, Treasurer of England (Cambridge, 1983), 22-4, 32
[12] https://s0.geograph.org.uk/geophotos/05/21/78/5217847_0d9a074c.jpg
[13] https://archive.org/stream/ReportAndTransactionsOfTheDevonshireAssociationVol441912/TDA1912vol44_djvu.txt
[14] Buck.





Sampson Tree