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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



NICHOLAS WOOLAVINGTON. We know less about Nicholas than any other lord of the manor of Woolavington and Cossington in Somerset.

The Victoria County History of Somerset tells us:[1]

Henry was succeeded by his son Henry of Woolavington (d. 1270-80) who was probably followed by Nicholas, a minor in 1280.  By 1306 Nicholas had been succeeded by his son Henry (fl. 1324).”

There is a certain vagueness here. Previous lords have been said to be the son of their predecessor. The fact that Nicholas is not said to be the younger Henry’s son suggests that he was not. This Henry was born in the earlier part of the 13th century. Nicholas appears to have been born not earlier than 1259. He is most likely a grandson, whose father had predeceased Henry.

John Collinson’s History and Antiquities of the County of Somerset does not mention Nicholas. He tells us:[2]

“This Henry had also lands in Cossington, Huntspill, Edington, and other adjacent parishes ; and having married Milicent daughter of Alan de Burci, had issue three sons, Henry, Walter, and William; the first of whom by Muriel his wife was father of Henry and Walter de Wollavington.”

He goes on to give the succession through the younger son Walter, which seems to fit the manor of Woolavington Pym better than Woolavington and Cossington. Nicholas is most likely the child of the older son Henry.


Most of Nicholas’s life was lived in the latter half of the 13th century. This was a time when the country’s prosperity was rising to its peak. In Somerset, drainage of the Levels was providing more agricultural land.

In 1285, when Nicholas was a young man, the  Statute of Winchester decreed that every man under 60 must arm himself at his own expense to defend the kingdom and help maintain order.

This was the time when more of the local government was being entrusted to the knights in the shires. Men who owned considerable property and were available for military service were usually knighted. When Nicholas reached his majority and was knighted, he would be expected to administer justice through the manorial court. This would try less serious offences that did not need to be referred to the assizes.


The Polden ridge cuts across the Somerset Levels. Woolavington lies on the northern slope, near its western end. It is bounded on the north and east by watercourses, like the Withy rhyne (a rhyne is a drainage ditch). The southern boundary is slightly higher. Field names like Sog and Waterpit show that even this southern area had problems with drainage.

Church of St Mary, Woolavington[3]


We have no information about Nicholas’s wife. We know of only one son, Henry.


If Nicholas was still a minor in 1280 and died in or before 1306, then he did not live beyond middle age. He died shortly before the accession of Edward II.


[1] Woolavington in A History of the County of Somerset: Volume 8, the Poldens and the Levels, ed. Robert Dunning (London, 2004), British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/som/vol8/pp210-223.
[2] John Collinson. The History and Antiquities of the County of Somerset: Cruttevell, 1791.
[3] Facebook. Church of St Mary, Woolavington.




Sampson Tree