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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


 A Dictionary of English surnames  gives the earliest instance of the surname Pickwell as Robert de Pidekeswell in 1210.[1] The source is in Devon, but the details are not given. We may assume that Robert was then an adult. A birth date of 1185 or earlier, in the reign of Henry II,  would make it very unlikely that he was the father of Isabella de Pidekwille, who is thought to have been born around 1257, and is probably too early for her grandfather.[2] He is most likely her great-grandfather.

Pickwell is a manor on the North Devon coast, in the parish of Georgeham. It stands high above the golden sands of Putsborough beach, and just a little inland. The rebuilt manor is today a hotel.

The first documentary record of Georgeham appears in the Domesday Book of 1087.  The village was then called simply “Ham”. Parts of it are still known as Higher and Nether Ham.

The later addition of “George” to the name “Ham” refers to the dedication of the parish church. In Robert’s time, the ecclesiastical parish of Georgeham had not yet been created.

There was a stone-built church there before 1231, but the date of its building is not known. It is likely that the Pidekeswells would have contributed to it.

There were two manors in the locality:  Pickwell and Georgeham. The St Aubyns were lords of Georgeham manor, but they held other estates, and it is not clear when they took up residence in Georgeham. It is possible that the Pidekeswells were of longer standing there.

Robert would have been a boy or young man when Richard I was crowned in Westminster Abbey in 1189. He barred all Jews and women from the ceremony, but some Jewish leaders arrived to present gifts for the new king. They were stripped and flogged. Rumours that Richard had ordered all Jews to be killed, led to a massacre. Richard punished the perpetrators and ordered that the Jews be left alone. But persecution continued, culminating when many burnt alive in York.

Richard, known as the Lionheart, went off to the Holy Land on the Third Crusade, leaving his unpopular brother John to rule England. In fact, he only spent six months of his reign in England, making his chief home in Anjou. Although educated at Oxford, he spoke no English.

He was the effective leader of the Crusade, but realisied the impossibility of holding Jerusalem, even if he captured it from Saladin, and retreated.

On his return in 1192, he and his retinue were disguised as low-ranking pilgrims. But he was recognised and captured near Vienna by Count Leopold, whom he had offended. Back in England, to pay the enormous ransom demanded, both clergy and laymen were taxed for a quarter of the value of their property and the gold and silver treasures of the churches were confiscated. The Pidekeswells would have had to pay their share.

We have no information about Robert’s wife, and no certain information about his children. But it seems probable that Robert de Pidekeswell, whose dates are given in some family trees as 1205-61, was his eldest son and heir.


[1] A Dictionary of English surnames, Percy Hide Reaney and, Richard Middlewood Wilson, Google Books.




Sampson Tree