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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 BAMPFIELD’S story is perhaps the most memorable in our Bampfylde ancestry.

He was the son of John Bampfield, Esq, of Weston Bampfylde in Somerset, and Isabel Faber.

He grew up close to the Iron Age hillfort of Cadbury Castle, believed by some to be the site of King Arthur’s Camelot.

He appears to have been born in the latter half of the 13th century.

 John was sent as a small boy to Exeter Cathedral. This was not the usual education for a country squire’s son. He seems to have been intended for a life as a clergyman.

Cathedral schools were forerunners of grammar schools.

John was tutored by William Pontington, a canon of the cathedral who is thought to be a relative of the Bampfyldes. Canon Pontington described John as his “alumnus”.

Education in the Middle Ages[1]


In 1280 Bishop Quinel of Exeter granted John de Bamfield, Clerk, a pension of 1 silver mark to be paid annually until he can provide him with a benefice. A benefice is a paid position as a rector or vicar.

From the 11th century onwards, there had been pressure on priests to remain celibate, and in the 13th century this was the norm, but there were still a minority who married.

John Bampfield is thought to have married Eleanor Beauchamp around 1292.


ELEANOR BEAUCHAMP. Alinor or Ellinor, Eleanor, was the daughter of Sir Humphrey Beauchamp of Ryme and his first wife Sybil Oliver.

Her childhood home was Ryme Intrinseca in Dorset, a village 3 m south of Yeovil.

She is thought to have been one of their older children, born most likely in the early1280s.

Her father was a knight who made several journeys overseas in the king’s service and fought for him when Edward I invaded Scotland.

Eleanor was probably still a child when her mother divorced her father sometime before 1290, for reasons we do not know. Sybil may have found Humphrey guilty of adultery.

Nor do we know which of her parents Eleanor lived with after their divorce. She may have gone to her mother’s old home in Wambrook, Somerset.

Both of her parents remarried, her mother to John de Aldham, and her father to Alice Novant.

At the time the couple married around 1292, John Bamfylde held an estate in Great and Little Weston in the county of Somerset. These are the two small villages that make up the parish of Weston Bampfylde. One source thinks John may have obtained it through his marriage to Eleanor, but it is more likely that he acquired it on the death of his father, John Bampfield senior.

n 1297, John’s old tutor, Canon William Pontington, purchased the manor of Poltimore from the baron Simon de Montagu for £200, Poltimore lies 4 miles NE of Exeter.

The following year, Canon Pontington gifted it to his former pupil, along with the benefice of Poltimore. John may have passed on the living to another clergyman, or he may have served as a “squarson”, combining the offices of squire and parson.

The couple moved from Weston Bampfylde to their new manor of Poltimore. The present manor house was begun in the 15th century. John and Eleanor lived in an older house, probably on a different site, nearer the parish church and the village.

The couple had at least one son, John.

In 1303 John and Eleanor held the manor in Weston Bampfylde. In 1309, John acquired more land there from Robert le Tailor and his wife Sibyl. In 1315 John Everard settled an estate at Weston, including the mill, on John Bampfylde, with remainders, among others, to Hugh son of Humphrey Beauchamp, Eleanor’s brother. It is unclear whether this was John senior or junior.

In 1316, John was described as “Lord of Poltimore”.

Eleanor is thought to have died around the beginning of the 14th century

Estimates of John’s death range from 1329 to 1357.

If the first is true, then he lived long enough to see the coup of 1326 in which Queen Isabella and her lover Roger Mortimer ousted King Edward II, who died in prison.

The later date would see him surviving the devastating Black Death of the 1340s. A consequence for landowners was a countryside massively short of labour. Not only had something like half the population died, but those who were left flocked to the towns in search of the higher wages that the labour shortage made possible. One consequence of this is that land dropped out of cultivation. Sheep farming, which is less labour intensive, continued to flourish. Devon was famous for its woollen cloth industry.


[1] The Worlds of David Darling. Education in the 13th century.




Sampson Tree