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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



HAMELIN HEREWARD. We know from Sir William Pole’s history of Devonshire that Hamelin was the son of Thomas Hereward of Dodscott (later St Giles in the Wood).[1] Among the Devon landowners in the reign of Henry III [1216-72] he lists:

Thos Hereward, of Dodlescot. Kt
Hamelyn Hereward, of Romandleslegh, Kt, sonne of Thomas


No doubt Hamelin grew up at Dodscott, three miles from Great Torrington in NW Devon. But Tim Sandberg’s Hereward tree makes him the younger son.[2] His brother John was expected to inherit Dodscott. Hamelin appears to have been given land of his own at Romansleigh. This is a village to the south of South Molton and 12 miles east of Dodscott.

Six centuries and eleven generations later, his descendant John Sampson grew up at Romansleigh.

Romansleigh [3]


John, however, died without male issue. Hamelin became heir to Dodscott.


It would appear that Thomas Hereward had died by 1242. Hamelin was paying a fee for Dodscott then

W.G. Hoskins notes that: ‘‘Though St Giles as a place-name only came into existence early in the 14th century, it had existed before that date as a settlement – under the name of West Dodscott.[4] Reichel says it first appears in Testa de Nevil, 1242, held for ½ a fee by Hamel Hereward of the heirs of Toriton. … it probably came into existence as land essarted or enclosed after the disafforestation of the county in 1205.”[5]

The manor of West Dodscott that Hamelin Hereward held is now the village of St Giles-in-the-Wood. It was then within the parish of Great Torrington. It did not get its own church until 1309, and with it a change of name. St Giles stands on high ground, in an area of steep, wooded valleys.


It is not until 1259 that we learn the name of Hamelin’s wife.

43 HENRY III (28 October 1258–27 Oct 1259) [6]
16 July. Westminster. Devon. Hamelin Hereward and Rose, his wife, give one mark for taking an assize before Henry of Bratton. Order to the sheriff of Devon etc.

It is possible that he had a brother Richard. The Fine Rolls for Henry III give us the following:

44 HENRY III (28 Oct 1259 – 27 October 1260) [7
Richard Hereward and Hamelin Hereward give half a mark for taking an assize before the same Henry. Order to the sheriff of Devon etc. [S’, in the Roll]

Richard Whiting’s Hereward tree gives an extra generation, making Richard and Roger sons of Hamelin.[8] But Sandberg’s tree seems the more reliable. It does not mention Richard.

Sandberg”s tree gives Hamelin son, John, who married Ellen Floyer from a long-established Exeter family.


Although he had inherited Dodscott, Hamelin is still described by Tristan Risdon as “of Romaneslegh” in 1263-4.[9]

Hamelin Hereward, of Romaneslegh, knight, 49 Henry III.

Risdon, writing in the early 17th century, may not have known of Hamelin’s connection with Dodscott.


This is the last record we have of him.


[1] Sir William Pole, Collections Towards a Description of the County of Devon. 1791. https://books.google.co.uk/books/about/Collections_Towards_a_Description_of_the.html?id=WF4OAAAAQAAJ
[2] Tim Sandberg’s Genealogy Database. www.world.connect.genealogy.rootsweb.com
[3] https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn%3AANd9GcR2DR0lYgFu2BQjID1Y87ktd4GTvFV5zwLQoYc7u4_xaE4gFS13&usqp=CAU
[4] Reichel, Fremington Hundred, p.512.
[5] W.G. Hoskins. St Giles-in-the-Wood, Devon. (Handwritten notes in WSL).
[6] finerollshenry3.org.uk › content › calendar › roll_056 [1259]
[7] finerollshenry3.org.uk › content › calendar › roll_057 [1260]
[8] Richard Whiting. Whiting of Wood: A Mediaeval Landed Family, 1974 (MS in DRO).
[9] The Note-book of Tristram Risdon, 1608-1628 [1264]




Sampson Tree