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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



HENRY DE WOOLAVINGTON. The History and Antiquities of Somerset tells us about the succession of lords of the manor in Woolavington, a village on the slopes of the Polden Hills, which bisect the Somerset Levels.[1]

“In the time of Henry II. Maud de Candos granted to William son of Ranulph de Wollavington all the lands that his father held in this village; which grant her grandson Philip de Columbers confirmed to his son Henry. This Henry had also lands in Cossington, Huntspill, Edington, and other adjacent parishes ; and having married Milicent daughter of Alan de Burci, had issue three sons, Henry, Walter, and William; the first of whom by Muriel his wife was father of Henry and Walter de Wollavington, which last is sometimes called Walter le Waleis. He had two sons, Gilbert le Waleis and Hugh, of whom Gilbert the eldest inherited the estate, but died without children.”

It is the second Henry we are concerned with here.

He was the son of an older Henry de Woolavington and Milicent de Burci, who was very likely descended from the Norman baron Serlo de Burci.

Henry junior was probably born in the early 13th century. We have no information about his siblings.


MURIEL. This history tells us only Muriel’s first name. We do not know her parentage.


The couple had two sons, Henry and Walter. They also had a daughter Margery, born in 1236, who married Peter Scudamore, Lord of Upton Scudamore, in 1255.


There were three manors in the parish of Woolavington. The Woolavington family were lords of the manor of Woolavington and Cossington. The latter is an adjacent village.

We do not have a death date for Henry’s father, but it seems likely that he lived into the second half of the 13th century. On his death, Henry junior became lord of the manor.


During the 13th century the chancel of St Mary’s, Woolavington, was rebuilt and the north chapel added. Renewed lancets and a trefoil-headed piscine were added. The head remains of a 13th-century effigy of a priest.


In the later 13th century a Henry de Woolavington was a judge, whose name appears in many documents. It seems likely that this was Henry junior. The Victoria County History of Somerset tells us that he died c.1270-80, which would fit with the dates of these documents. His death is given there as 1274-5.[2]

The early judges were members of the clergy, but by the mid-13th century they were joined by knights.

Henry seems to be solely concerned with civil cases involving property. We have no evidence of him judging criminal cases.


In 1272 Henry de Woolavington was assigned to take the jury arraigned by Henry de Berkeley against the Abbot of St Peter’s, Gloucester, touching right of common pasture in Stanley I; and four years afterwards he had an assize against the Abbot of Stanley (Wilts) who also brought a cross action against him as to common pasture in Dodington.

There are two documents from 1273.

1273 May-July

Roger de Pridias, sheriff of Devon, to Walter de Merton, chancellor: he had taken land, part of the Normans’ land, into the king’s hands, but the tenants have been released by Henry de Woolavington, justice.[3]

1273 Sept 21

Gervase de Crediton, clerk of the bishop of Exeter, to John de Kirkby: Henry de Woolavington and Henry de Montfort, justices in Devon, have not transferred an assize to Martin de Littlebury as ordered.

Henry de Woolavington’s name often appears coupled with that of Henry de Montfort.


There is a long list of documents from 2 Edward I (1273-4) in which they appear acting together. [4] There are 25 such cases in this single year. They cover a range of estates across the south-west.

We have:

Almsford (“Almundeford”) (Somers.): Appointment of same Henry (de Montford) and Henry de Woolavington to take the assize of novel disseisin arraigned by Roger de la Lade, against Henry Breton, touching a tenement in [Almsford].

Others are similarly worded, or concern assise of mort dancestor.

“Novel disseison” was an action to recover land of which the plaintiff had been dispossessed. “Mort d’ancestor” was an action to recover lawfully inherited land taken by another before the heir was able to take possession (during their minority).

Barrington (Somers):  arraigned by Christiana daughter of Reginald de Mere against Nicholas Fitz-John, &c.

Bedwin,East (Wilts)

Berrynarbor (Devon)

Compton (Somers.)

Cowley (Devon)

Coxleey and Berry (Devon)

Down, West (Devon): mandate to Henry de Woolavington to proceed to take the assize of darrein presentment arraigned by Philip de Columbariis against Radulph Beupal, touching the advowson of the church….

Hull, La (Devon)

Huntspill (Somers.)

Isle-Abbats (Somers.)

Henry de Montford and Stephen  Heym,  appointment of, to take all assizes, juries and recognitions which were arraigned before the said Henry and Henry de Woolavington in co. Cornwall, …

Netherbury (Dorset)

Petherton, North (Somers.)

Preston (Somers.)

Purton (Wilts)

Putford (Devon)

Raleigh: Appointment of Simon the Rochester to take the assize of novel disseisin arraigned by Henry de Raleigh against Thomas de Raleigh, and touching a tenement in, by reason of the absence of Henry de Woolavington, the justiciar appointed to take it.

Shepton Montague (Somers.)

Stowford (Somers.)

Sutton Montagu (Somers.)

Tinhead (Wilts.)

Tinhead (Wilts.)

Tuckerton (Somers,)

Tytherington (Wilts.)

Upcott (Devon)

Worcumbe (Devon).

These are the cases for a single year. There would have been many others.


We learn of Henry’s death a year later, in the Calendar of Patent Rolls: 3 Edw I (1274-5).

“Henry de Monfort to take the assise of mort dancestor arraigned by John son of John Tarberville against Agatha de Mortimer and others, touching the manor of, and touching possessions in Bere, and to take as many as possible of the other assises of novel disseisin and mort dancestor and juries remaining to be taken by the death of Henry de Woolavington.”


Henry de Woolavington; death of;

“Appointment of de Montfort and Solomon de Rochester to take the assise of novel disseisin arraigned by Henry son of Henry de Woolavington against Philip de Columbers, touching a tenement in Woolavington.”

Philip de Columbers was the landowner who had granted Henry’s father the estates in Woolavington.


Medieval Law Court[5]


The succession of the manor thereafter is unclear. The Victoria County History tells us:

Henry was succeeded by his son Henry of Woolavington (d. 1270-80) who was probably followed by Nicholas, a minor in 1280.  By 1306 Nicholas had been succeeded by his son Henry (fl. 1324)”

In listing the previous lords of the manor of Woolavington and Cossington, this history tells us that the lordship passed from father to son. The suggestion here is that Nicholas was not Henry’s son. It would seem that Henry’s eldest son, also named Henry, predeceased him. The fact that Nicholas was a minor in 1280 means that he was probably a grandson.

The History and Antiquities of Somerset says that Henry’s younger son Walter le Waleis

“had two sons, Gilbert le Waleis and Hugh, of whom Gilbert the eldest inherited the estate, but died without children.”

It does not mention Nicholas, nor the subsequent lords of the manor, Henry and Robert, nor how the manor came to the Ayshford family, through Robert’s daughter Joan. This succession is attested by the history of the Ayshford family, as well as the Victoria County History.

The succession through Walter, the younger son, fits the lordship of Woolavington Pym manor, rather than Woolavington and Cossington. Walter’s descendant Joan married Roger Pym and held that manor with her mother Eleanor.

The succession of the lordship of Woolavington and Cossington from Henry to Nicholas remains unclear, but Nicholas was most likely Henry’s grandson, through his eldest son Henry junior.



[1] John Collinson. The History and Antiquities of the County of Somerset: Cruttevell, 1791.
[2] Woolavington in A History of the County of Somerset: Volume 8, the Poldens and the Levels, ed. Robert Dunning (London, 2004), British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/som/vol8/pp210-223
[3] National Archives: SC 1/7/182
[4] Calendar of Patent Rolls: 2 Edward I.
[5] Medievalists.net. Medieval Geopolitics: The Medieval “Judicial Revolution”.




Sampson Tree