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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)



Pole’s pedigree of the Keynes family of Winkleigh gives: ‘Thomas Keynes maried Jone, sister of Walter Stapeldon, Bishop of Exon, & had issue John, wch by Isabell, daughter and coheire of John Wake, of Dolish in Somersetshire, had issue Thomas.’[1]

JOHN KEYNES. We know John’s birthdate from his father’s Inquisition Post Mortem. This was held in June 1308 and names ‘John Kaynes, son & heir, aged 15’.[2] John was therefore born 1292-3, in the reign of Edward I.

His father Thomas Keynes had married Joan Stapledon, who had a house at Annery in the parish of Monkleigh, on the River Torridge just south of Bideford.[3] Thomas’s IPM was held at Monkleigh, so it is possible that John’s parents had made their home there, and that is where John grew up.[4]

He was still a teenager in 1308 when his father died. The previous year, Edward II had succeeded to the throne.

The IPM shows that John inherited the manor of Thorry, now Docton, in the north Devon parish of Hartland, and land in Winkleigh, where the timber-built Court Castle was the Keynes’s ancestral home. These were:

‘the tenement of Thorry of the heir of Joyce de Dyneham. a minor & the King’s ward, by rent of 1 lb. of pepper, price 12d., & suit of court at Hertone. There is there a capital messuage worth yearly 12d., a dovecot 6d., there are 3 acres of meadow, 12d., 8 of pasture 16d., 40 of arable 10s. Also a messuage & carucate in Wynkelegh, held of the Earl of Gloucester by 1/8 of a knight’s fee, worth yearly 2s., 100 acres of arable & pasture 25s. rent of assize £2; pleas & perquisites 2s.’

John would probably have become a ward of the king during his minority. His land is likely to have been administered by his feudal overlord, the Earl of Gloucester.

September of that year, 1308, saw the enthronement of John’s uncle, Walter Stapeldon, as bishop of Exeter in a magnificent ceremony which cost the whole year’s revenue for the see.

Two years later, Bishop Stapeldon reported that the parsonage at Winkleigh was almost in ruins.[5]


John grew up to become lord of the manor of Winkleigh. The year that he attained his majority, 1314, saw the first of three years of exceptionally bad harvests and cattle disease. It affected people high and low. Many died from starvation and disease.

‘A record of the reign of Edward II [1307-1327]…. describes lands at Winkeligh “et Curia ibidem”. The “Curia” or Court, with power of life and death, seems to have been once a place of considerable strength, and is probably the castle at Court Barton, which seems to be the focus of the manor of Winkleigh Keynes and continued with them for fifteen generations.’[6] The castle stood on a high mound at the west end of the little town.

‘Minor offences were dealt with at the manorial court, owned by the Keynes family but there was a gallows in use, as many minor offences were punishable by hanging.’[7] It was a heavy responsibility for such a young man.

A year after John attained his majority, another member of the Keynes family was in trouble. ‘William Keynes was fined forty shillings in 1315 for seizing a boat, with others, belonging to Stephen de Haccombe, near Kenton, and assaulting his men. William later received a pardon for the death of William Berd.’ [8] We do not know what relation William was to John. At this time another ancestor, Isabella St Aubyn, was married to Sir Jordan Haccombe, of Haccombe by Combeinteignhead. She later married Sir Robert Cruwys.


Edward II was an unpopular king, accused by the barons of ruining the kingdom. Things improved when John’s uncle, Bishop Walter Stapeldon was appointed to head the administration with Bishop William de Melton of York. Their efforts cleared most of the massive national debt.

But Edward was influenced by other advisers. Hugh le Despenser was one of the most powerful men in England at this time. He and his father were immensely wealthy and favourites of the king. The younger Hugh married Eleanor, heiress of the Earls of Gloucester, who were overlords of the Keynes of Winkleigh. The Despensers were hated by the old nobility. In 1321 the marcher lords of the west rose in rebellion against him. Their leader was the Earl of Hereford, and among the lords supporting him was Sir William de Keynes, from a branch of the family with lands in Northamptonshire and Dorset, and previously at Somerford Keynes in Gloucestershire. They forced the king to exile Hugh Despencer and his father and ravaged and plundered their lands. But the following year, the tables were turned. The Despensers returned and the rebels were in disgrace.[9] We do not know if John played any part in that warfare.


ISABELL WAKE was the daughter of John  Wake of Dowlish Wake in Somerset. The village lies two miles south-east of Ilminster.
Her mother’s name was Joan, but we know no more about her.

Her father’s Inquisition Post Mortem places her birth at 1318-19, considerably younger than John.

The family claimed descent from Hereward the Wake, who led guerrilla warfare against William the Conqueror, though there is no proof of this.

She was one of three sisters, either the eldest or the second. There were either no brothers, or none that survived their father. Isabel was the last of the Wakes of Dowlish.[10]

The Wakes were a landed family, and gave their name to Ebbesbourne Wake in Wiltshire and Stoke Wake in Dorset. It is possible that they were related to the family descended from Hereward the Wake, an Englishman who rebelled against the Norman occupation, though this link cannot be proved.

When Isabel was born her family must still have been reeling from the shock of the murder of her grandfather, Ralph Wake, plotted by her grandmother Alice only 15 years earlier . Alice was tried and sentenced to death by burning in 1303-4.

Isabel Wake is recorded as granting land at Chibley in Somerset.

Lease for term of lessor’s life
John Burnel = (1)
Sir John de Chidiok, knight = (2)

(1) to (2), all his lands, etc., and rents in Chibbelegh iuxta Cheliton in the hundred of Southpederton, as fully as (1) lately held them by grant of Isabel Wake, as in a deed of Isabel made to (1); for (2) to hold for term of (1)’s life, of the heirs of Isabel. Rent a rose yearly at Nativity of St John Baptist to those heirs, for all service. Warranty.[11]

She married John in the mid-1320s.


John was a greater landowner than his father had been. He owned three capital messuages, or manor houses: in Winkleigh, where his father had only a messuage, at Werynggeston in the parish of Awliscombe near Honiton, and at Thorry in the parish of Hartland, which his father had held. John’s IPM was held at Winkleigh, so we can assume that he was lord of the manor of Winkleigh Keynes and living at the castle.[12]

1326 saw a second rebellion against the Despensers and King Edward II. Queen Isabella had been sent to France to negotiate with her brother Charles IV over disputed territories there. She returned with her lover, Roger Mortimer, and an army. John’s uncle, Bishop Walter Stapledon of Exeter, was Edward’s Lord High Treasurer. He was left in charge of the defence of London, while the king fled west. But the bishop was attacked by the citizenry. He was beheaded in the street near St Paul’s and buried in a heap of sand. Later, his body was moved to a canopied tomb north of the high altar in the choir of Exeter Cathedral. The hated Hugh Despenser was killed. The unpopular king was deposed in favour of his young son, Edward III, and murdered the following year.[13]

Whether John had any part in this, or on what side, we do not know. He found, however, that he now held his lands directly from the king as his overlord, since the Despensers had forfeited the estates of the earldom of Gloucester.


John and Isabel did not have long to enjoy married life together. We do not know if they had any daughters, but it is almost certain they had only one son, Thomas. There are two IPMs for John de Caynes. The first, held within months of his death, puts little Thomas’s birth in December 1326. The other, when Thomas was reportedly 11 years old, gives his birth as Christmas 1328.[14]

John died on Thursday, 22 Sep 1328. He would have been 34 or 35.

If the first IPM is right, Thomas would have been under two. If the second, he was born posthumously.

CAYNES, John de.                2 Edward III. [1328
Chancery Inq.p.m.  Edw.III.  File 11 (10).  Formerly No.39.
m.1.  Writ [defective] dated at York 16 Feb. 2 Edw.III [1327/8]
m.2.  Southampton.

m.3.  Devon [Defective].

INQUISITION taken at Wynkeleighe 20 May 2 Edw.III [1328] before the escheator by the oath of William de Radeford, Henry de ..…., William de Byttebeare, Thomas de Toni, William de Colecot, John Maiour, John ….ker, Thomas de Ayssele, Roger Red, Henry Bobich, Walter Corbyn & William Godyng: who say that John de Kaynnes held one carucate of land in Wynkelegh, of the honor of Gloucester, in the King’s hand by the forfeiture of Hugh le Desp[enser], by ½ a knight’s fee. There are there one capital messuage & garden worth yearly 12d. 120 acres of untilled land (“terre frisce”) 10s., [60 acres of arable ?] 10s. 100 of high wood 6s. 8d., 12 of [meadow ?] 6s., a mill 6s. 8d., rents of 6 free tenants 39s. 1d. rents of 5 free tenants 20s. 6d. 1 lb. of wax price 6d. & 1 lb. of cummin price 2d., pleas & perquisites 20s., chevage of boys (“capitagium garcionum”) 12d.

Total £5.11s.7d. whereof there is paid yearly to the church of St. Michael of Wemmeworthi, for the lamp of St. Mary there, 5 lb. of wax.

One carucate of land in Werynggeston, held by one sixth of a fee of the manor of [Bra]neys, in the hand of Hugh de Audele of his wife’s assignment of dower, of lands belonging to the earldom of Cornwall. There are there a capital messuage & garden worth yearly 2s. a [dovecot ]? 2s. 70 acres of arable 17s.[15] 17 of meadow 17s. pasture 2s.

Total £2.

One carucate in Thorrey by Hertilonde, held of John de Dynhamp by 1 lb. of pepper price 12d. There are there one capital messuage worth yearly 12d. 1 dovecot [12d.]; 126 acres of arable [21s.], 3 of [meadow ?] 3s,; one [mill ?] 10s.

Total 36s.

Thomas de Kaynnes, son [& heir, aged 6 months at the feast of St Barnabas last past][16]: [11 June 1327]

The ‘manor of Braneys’ is the honour, or barony, of Bradninch.

Isabel was left with an infant son, who was a very long way from coming into his inheritance. As was customary in such cases, Thomas became a ward of the king.

But there were still the Despensers to reckon with. John’s lands reverted to the widowed Eleanor Despenser, daughter of the last Earl of Gloucester. Another Hugh, son and heir of Eleanor and the dead Hugh Despenser, took over the wardship of young Thomas Keynes.

When Thomas was 11, Hugh le Despenser made the following petition:

CAYNES, John de               13 Edw.III [1339]
Chancery Inq. p.m. Edw.III.  File 60 (13)
Formerly No.35.

m.1.  Writ of certiorari, on the petition of Hugh le Despenser, son & heir of Eleanor, late wife of Hugh le Despenser, his father, praying that whereas the King lately caused to be restored to the said Eleanor all the lands, &c., of her inheritance which were in the King’s hand after her husband’s death, he would cause to be delivered to petitioner the lands, &c., in Wynkelegh, co. Devon, which John de Caynes, deceased, held of the said inheritance, which were taken into the King’s hand by reason of the death of said John & the minority of his heir: the wardship whereof now pertains to said Hugh. Dated at Kenyngton 25 Oct. 13 Edw.III. [1339]

m.2.  Devon.

Inquisition taken at Exeter, Tuesday the feast of St. Andrew 13 Edw.III. [30 Nov. 1339], before Ralph de Middelneye, escheator, by the oath of William de Radeford, Robert de Ayshlegh, Henry Bobich, William de Colecot, Henry Pollard, John Brigge, William Mayour, John de Mosefenne, Richard Pestour, Philip de Wyke, Ralph de Legh & Henry de Gredelyne: who say that John de Caynes held a carucate of land in Wynkelegh, of the honor of Gloucester, by ½ a knight’s fee; of the inheritance of Eleanor who was wife of Hugh le Despenser, worth by the year, clear, £5.19s.1d. One carucate in Weryngeston, held of the manor of Braneys, in the hand of Hugh Daudele; worth &c. £2. One carucate in Thorry by Hertilaund, held of John de Dynham, worth, &c. 36s.

John de Caynes died Thursday before Michaelmas 2 Edw.III. [Thursday 22 Sept. 1328][17]

Thomas, son & heir, aged 11 at Christmas next [1339].


Either at John’s death or later, perhaps after Thomas’s marriage, Isabel seems to have returned to her Somerset home of Dowlish Wake, where her effigy can be seen in St Andrew’s church.

Isabel’s father died in 1348-50. She, her younger sister Elizabeth, and 10-year-old John Tyrel, her sister Margery’s son, divided his estates between them, Isabel getting one third. It appears that Margery and her husband Hugh Tyrel had already died.

This brought her a share of Tanglye in the county of Southampton, Compton Martin in Somerset, and Stoke Wake, Hulle, Caundel-Wake, Badcombe and Gorwell in Dorset.

The transfer was not achieved peacefully. Armed men seized Compton Martin and part of Hulle. They began levying profits, driving off cattle, and destroying part of the woods, parks and gardens. The king, whose ward John Tyrel was, sent an armed force to arrest them.

Shortly afterwards there was the appeal to pay a debt to Isabel of nearly £6 [18]
3 marks made a pound.

1350 Nov 17
Debtor: Thomas atte More of the parish of Crediton, of [Crediton Hundred] Devon.
Creditor: Isabel Wake.
Amount: 17m. 7s. 4d.
Before whom: Henry de Hugheton, Mayor of Exeter; John de Cory, Clerk.
When taken: 07/08/1348
First term: 14/09/1348
Writ to: Sheriff of Devon
Sent by: Robert de Bridport, Mayor of Exeter; John de Cory, Clerk.
Endorsement: Devon’ Coram Justic’.

Fifteen days before her father’s death in 1348-50, he enfeoffed “Isabel wife of John de Keynes, Margery Tyrel, and Elizabeth Wake, his daughters” in his manors of East and West Dowlish. [19].

Isabel died in 1359.

Her heir was her son Thomas.

There is a memorial to Isabel de Keynes in the parish church of St Andrew at Dowlish Wake.

It is the oldest and finest in the church. She is lying in the trefoil cusped recess to the left of the steps leading down to the Speke Chapel. There is a little dog at her feet and beautifully carved heads looking down at her: She is Isabel Wake, who died in 1359, and who brought the manors of East and West Dowlish to the Keynes family. [20]

Isabel Keynes, née Wake, 1359

She was the last of her line of the Wake family.

Among the estates she left were 2 carucates of land in Tangley, a Hampshire village  near the Wiltshire border, which had been granted to her great-grandfather Andrew Wake. It was in the hands of villeins, or peasants who paid dues and services to their lord in return. She held this manor of the king in chief, by the service of the fourth part of one knight’s fee.[21]

Also in Dowlish Wake church is the tomb of Joane, née Keynes, and her husband John Speke, who died in 1442. Joane was Isabel’s great-great-granddaughter.


[1] Sir William Pole (d.1635), Collections Towards a Description  of the County of Devon,(1791), p.431.
[2] IPM Thomas de Kaygnes 1308. [WSL]
[3] John Prince, The Worthies of Devon, (c.1700).
[4] IPM Thomas de Kaygnes 1308
[5] Lawrence Molland, A History of the Parish of Winkleigh in the County of Devon, (MS; WSL), p.281.
[6] Lesley McLean, ed., Winkleigh: A View of their Parish by the People of Winkleigh, (Beaford Arts Centre, 1997), p.32.
[7] McLean, p.36.
[8] McLean, p.36.
[9] Geoffrey Gibbon, Through the Saxon Door: The Story of Somerford Keynes, (1969). p.5.
[10] www.gordonrosalynd.tripod.com/green/d287.htm#P8448
[11] a2a: CRO: Arundell of Laherne and Trerice: AR/1/1089
[12] IPM John de Caynes 1328. [WSL}
[13] http://www.britannia.com/bios/wstapledon.html
[14] IPM John de Caynes, 1328, 1339
[15] sic: price p acre 3d.
[16] supplied from Close Roll 2 Edw.III. m.8.
[17] sic: 1327; 1 Edw.III ?
[18] National Archives: C 241/128/15
[19] Hutchins’ Dorset. http://www.1066.co.nz/library/battle_abbey_roll2/subchap114.htm.
[20] English Heritage National Monuments Record Entry. http://webapp1.somerset.gov.uk/her/details.asp?prn=57228
[21] Inq. p.m. 33 Edw. III, no. 26. ‘Parishes: Tangley’, A History of the County of Hampshire: Volume 4 (1911), pp. 326-328. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=56821.




24. WAKE

Sampson Tree