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)
ROBERT DE BRENT and MILLICENT (24)
SIR ROBERT DE BRENT is the earliest of this family that we can trace with confidence.
He is thought to have been born around 1220, in the early years of the reign of Henry III.
His birthplace is not definitely known, but is likely to have been South Brent in Somerset. This village is now known as Brent Knoll. It stands at the base of the isolated hill of that name, a mile or two inland from Burnham on Sea.
There are various theories about his origins.
One of the more frequently cited lineages for Robert de Brent claims that he was the son of Robert Fitzsauvin, who was in turn the son of Sauvinus de Turre. A second, that Robert was the descendent of Odo, half brother of William the Conqueror. David Powell has done a careful investigation of these theories and has ruled out Odo. The descent through Sauvinus de Turre is not proved, but seems possible. Both Roberts and Sauvinus held the office of porter, in charge of hospitality, at Glastonbury Abbey.
He was probably of Norman ancestry. It is likely that he was of minor nobility. perhaps the son of a tenant lord or steward. He may have been a younger son, who did not inherit the family lands in Brent.
He married Millicent around 1250.
MILLICENT. We do not know Millicent’s surname, or where she came from.
They had at least one son, their heir, another Robert de Brent, born around 1250.
Millicent’s husband Robert was not originally known as “de Brent”, but is said to be the first to use that name. This is likely to have come about when he moved to Glastonbury Abbey
Surnames were then in their infancy. Some derived from the person’s father, like Fitzsauvin, which means “son of Sauvin”. Others tell us where someone came from, using de.
In 1254, Michael de Ambresbury, Abbot of Glastonbury, gave Robert the role of porter at the Abbey. His duties and those of his servants were to care for strangers and sick people and “others who came there thither for God’s sake”.
Glastonbury Abbey in the Middle Ages 
The role carried with it lands, together with food, clothing and money. Most significantly, Robert and his heirs were granted the manor of Cossington in Somerset in perpetuity. This became the family home.
Cossington lies 4 m NE of Bridgwater, on the northern flanks of the Polden Hills and 7 miles west of Glastonbury. It had been the property of Glastonbury Abbey since the Conquest.
His duties at the Abbey were probably delegated to his servants while he was absent.
There are 13th-century deeds which name Robert de Brent as owning land at Wrington, north of the Mendips
Here, too, much of the land, including the manor, had been owned by Glastonbury Abbey.
In the first deed Robert, son of Hugh Faber of Wrington, grants to Hugh de Middilton:
“five acres of arable land and 2 acres of meadow in Suthderlond with appurtenances; which five acres of arable land lie between the land of Robert de Brent on one side and the land of Emma daughter of Adam reeve of Glastonbury on the other, and extend themselves from Tissimede, towards the north, up to the land of the said Robert de Brent; but the two acres of meadow lie in Tisismede on the south end of the aforementioned five acres of land. In another deed Robert de Brent guarantees the rights of the Abbot of Glastonbury to have pasture in “la Wodefold in the manor of Wrington next the abbey court there.”These locations are uncertain, but they all lie in or near Wrington. They show that, in addition to Cossington, Robert also possessed lands around Wrington, 16 miles to the north. Wodefold was a wood owned by the abbey and contained oaks, ash and hazels, possibly on the slopes around Broadfield Down, north-east of the town. Tissimede is possibly ‘The Mead’, about 1/2 mile west of the town, suggesting at least two separate possessions within the borders of Wrington. Given that the manor was owned by the abbey, it is likely these lands also came to Robert from there.
Robert died around 1262, when he was no more than middle-aged.
Given his position at Glastonbury Abbey, it is likely that he was buried there, as were several of his descendants.
After Robert’s death, Millicent married Raymond Malet.
He was the younger son of William Malet and his wife Mary. Their home was at Enmore, 8 m SW of Cossington, at the foot of the Quantock Hills.
Raymond and Millicent were given the estate of Heathcombe, on the outskirts of Enmore, by his mother Mary, widow of William Malet.
Millicent may have died soon after this marriage. In 1268 there is mention of Isolde, wife of Raymond Malet.
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