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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)




JOHN AYSHFORD was the son and heir of John Ayshford of Ashford in Burlescombe and Sarah Botes. [1] He was born around 1270.

The Ayshford family had begun modestly with an estate in this small East Devon village. Marriages to heiresses, including John’s mother, had increased their holdings. John married another heiress.


MARGARET WOODFORD was the daughter of John Woodford, and also the granddaughter and heir of Gilbert Crispin of Lamside in Holbeton, near the estuary of the River Erme between Plymouth and Salcombe.


John and Margaret had at least two sons, John junior and William.


A priory of Augustinian canons had been founded at Legh in Burlescombe in the 12th century. Legh and Canonsleigh had been brought into the Ayshford estates by John’s mother. The priory had declined, and in 1284 it was refounded by Maud, Countess of Devon, as an order of regular canonesses, with the Mother Superior entitled to call herself an abbess. 1306 John quitclaimed to the Abbess of Canonsleigh all his rights to lands she held in the manor of Ayshford.

In 1345, John’s cousin, Juliana Lamprey became Abbess of Canonsleigh Priory.

 Ruins of Canonsleigh Priory


John and Margaret arranged a marriage for their eldest son John to Constance Worth of Worth near Tiverton. This might have brought them high connections. Alexander Worth was involved in a dispute with the rich and powerful Courtenays, over the right to the title of Earl of Devon. Litigation lasted from 1293 to 1335. The Worths’ bid failed.


There appears to have been a dispute over whether the property Margaret inherited was entailed, and could be only be passed down the male line. In 1320/21 Margaret’s cousin, a younger Gilbert Crispin, recognised her right to the property in return for a sum of £100.[2]


Margaret de Asshford 1320/1

Feet of Fines A.D. 1320-1, pp188-189  (1099.)

  1. At Westminster, on the morrow of the Purification of the Blessed Mary, 14 Ed. II (3 Feb. 1320-1). Before William de Bereford, Gilbert de Roubiry, John de Mutford, and John de Stonore, justices, and other, etc. Between Margaret de Asshford, claimant, by Nicholas de Marisco in her place by the King’s writ, and Gilbert Crispyn, deforciant ; as to 1 messuage, 1 ploughland, 10 marks of rent in LAMSYDE (Lamside in Holbeton), NEXT NEWETON FERERS (Newton Ferrers). Plea of covenant was summoned. Gilbert acknowledged the tenements to be the right of Margaret as of his gift, & remitted & quit-claimed the same for himself & his heirs to Margaret & her heirs for ever. Moreover Gilbert undertook for himself & his heirs that they would warrant the tenements to Margaret & her heirs against all men for ever. For this Margaret gave to Gilbert £100 sterling.


About the same time, the younger son William was set up with property in Brixton English near Plympton by a Feet of Fine dated 1321. He was granted the property by John and Muriel Erleigh. In return, he granted the property back to them, for a sum of money. “This was all part of a medieval tax avoidance scheme intended to fool the royal officers into thinking that land and the consequent taxes were the responsibility of someone (anyone) else.”


John senior seems to have died before 1332.

Margaret moved from Ashford to Lamside, the South Devon inheritance she had secured by the lawsuit. This may have been her childhood home. She was a wealthy widow. In the Devon Lay Subsidy of 1332 she is by far the largest taxpayer out of 19 names recorded in the manor. She was assessed at 4s 4d. The next highest was 20d.

She, and possibly John, appear to have outlived their son and heir. In 1328 their grandson, yet another John, is granting land in Ashford.

The date of Margaret’s death, sometime after 1332, is unknown.


[1] Source, except where otherwise stated: F. & H. Ayshford, Notes Towards a History of the Ayshford Family of Devon. Typescript booklet.

[2] Feet of Fines.




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