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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



RICHARD COPLESTON. The Coplestons take their name from the village of Copplestone, 5 miles east of Crediton in mid-Devon. It nestles in a valley between Dartmoor and Exmoor.

The “stone” is Copplestone Cross, a 10th-century granite shaft at the meeting point of the parishes of Colebrook, Crediton and Down St Mary. It is covered with fine Anglo-Saxon carving.

It is clearly a boundary stone, but there is also a tradition that it was raised to commemorate the death of Bishop Putta, who was murdered here in 906 while travelling from Bishops Tawton to Crediton.

It is not certain whether the shaft was once surmounted by a cross.

Copplestone Cross [1]

Copplestone is not an ecclesiastical parish, since it does not have a church.

Nowadays, the name is spelt with two ps, but in medieval times there was only one. There was sometimes a final e, but more often not.

The Copleston family believed themselves descended from Anglo-Saxon forebears before the Norman Conquest. There is an old rhyme:

‘ Crocker, Cruwys, and Coplestone,
When the Conqueror came were found at home.’

These families hold a prominent place in Devon history, but sadly cannot be linked to any of the English thegns who retained their estates.

Sir William Pole begins his genealogy of the lords of the manor thus:[2]

“COPLESTON, which gave the name unto an emynent family in this fhire, lyeth in this parish, whoſe name I firſt find in the deede of grant of Hugh de Sancto Vedafto, made unto Mathew de Wodeton before named, unto wch Willam de Copleſtona is fett downe as a witnefs betwixt him & Richard Coplefton, in Kinge Edw. 2 tyme. But afterward they grewe unto greatneſs, & albeit they had great mariages in lands, yeat hath not any of that famyly bine knighted ; & therefore they received the name of Silver Spurr, & for their great revenue called the great Coplefton.

Richard Copleston, of Coplefton, had iffue Adam.”

We do not know from this how William de Coplestone was related to Richard. He may have been his father or his brother.

King Edward II ruled from 1307 – 1327.

We also learn that: “Willam de Copleftona held COPLESTON in Kinge Henry 2 tyme [1154-1189]; & hath contynewed in the poffeffion thereof, in the heire male, unto this tyme.”  Clearly, this cannot be the same William, more than a century earlier, but he is likely to be Richard’s distant ancestor.

Pole does not give us the name of Richard’s wife.

Much of what Pole says is confirmed in Magna Britannia.[3]

“This ancient family, which had the rank of White Spur, was originally of Copleston, in the parish of Colebrook.”

The White or Silver Spur was a rare form of esquire in Devon, and possibly the wider West Country. It ranked below that of knight. It was an hereditary title, passed down through the male line. The king would place a Collar of Esses around the recipient’s neck and confer on him a pair of silver spurs. This distinguished them from knights of the class Eques Auratus (Golden Knights), whose spurs were gilt. It entitled the Coplestons to be styled as “Copleston the White Spur”.

The Coplestons are one of only three families known to have held the title.

It was unusual for such an ancient, prominent and wealthy family never to have held a knighthood.

Nevertheless, we find the Coplestons intermarrying with a great many of the landed gentry across the county.

Richard is thought to have been born around 1295, in the reign of Edward I, and to have died in 1345-55, after Edward III had come to the throne. It is a matter of conjecture whether he lived to see the Black Death of 1349, or indeed whether he succumbed to it.

We can only be certain of one child, Adam.

[1] Copplestone Cross Ancient Cross: The Megalithic Portal and Megalith Map.
[2] Sir William Pole (d.1635), Collections Towards a Description  of the County of Devon,(1791),
[3] Daniel Lysons and Samuel Lysons, ‘General history: Families removed since 1620’, in Magna Britannia: Volume 6, Devonshire (London, 1822),




Sampson Tree