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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



ALEXANDER CRUWYS is believed to be the eldest son of Richard Cruwys, who was the first of the Cruwys family to be lord of the manor of Cruwys Morchard, six miles west of Tiverton.

His father is thought to have died about 1216, leaving Alexander as lord of the manor.[1]

This was the date the unpopular King John died. The year before, his barons had forced him to sign the Magna Carta, limiting the king’s power, granting more rights to the landholding aristocracy, and setting standards for fair trials.

He was succeeded by his 9-year-old son Henry III. Some of the more rebellious left barons to go on crusades.

Alexander was a knight, though there is no record that his father was. We do not know when the Cruwys family obtained their present coat of arms, but it may have been granted to Alexander. It is described as:

Arms: Azure, a bend per bend indented gules and argent, between six escallops or.

Crest: On a mount vert, a stork holding in the dexter claw a flint argent.

Motto: Vigilate.[2]

The six scallop shells may be significant. They usually indicate that the bearer has been to the Holy Land. It is possible that Sir Alexander, his father, or one of his descendants, was a crusader.

The first crusade began in 1096. Most of those crusaders came from France. Its aim was restore the free passage of pilgrims to the shrine of the Holy Sepulchre and to take back Jerusalem from the Muslims. But the crusades degenerated into wars against Muslims anywhere, and even to attacks on the Greek Orthodox city of Constantinople and the land around it. A second crusade was launched in 1147. In 1187, Saladin captured Jerusalem and overran the local crusader states. He welcomed Jews and Orthodox Christians.

England became heavily involved in the third crusade of 1189. One of the leaders was Richard I, the French king of England. He did not succeed in all his objectives, but recovered four ports and won the right of pilgrims to visit the Holy Sepulchre. The fourth crusade of 1199 attacked Constantinople, with the aim of making its Eastern Christians submit to the papacy. The city was captured in 1204 and subjected to merciless pillage. The sixth crusade started out in 1227. The Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II this time succeeded in capturing Jerusalem and Bethlehem. If Alexander did ‘take the cross’, then this is the most likely one in which he might have taken part. Crusaders wore a red cross over their armour.

Other crusades followed in 1248, after Alexander’s death, in 1267, and to a lesser degree in the 14th century.[3]

When Henry III reached his majority in the 1220s, he signed a revised version of Magna Carta. His reign was distinguished by the flourishing of arts, education and agriculture.

Although he was lord of the manor, Sir Alexander was not immune from being accused of complicity in the theft of stock within his manor. Margaret Cruwys records that:

‘In an Assize Roll for 1238 we find that Simon, parishioner of Alexander de Crues, accused Thomas de Santon of breaking into the parish of the said Alexander and driving away therefrom his cattle. And Simon had not come. Therefore he and his sureties are in mercy [subject to a fine], namely Richard de Appwa’ and Alfred of Wood. And the jurors testify that the said Thomas, together with Thomas de Pulein, who has come, and Henry, son of Emma and Stephen le Claver, who has not come, broke into his parish and stole his cattle as has been aforesaid, and also all have compromised with the said Alexander and Simon and therefore all are in mercy. And Alexander and Thomas Pulein, who have come, are convicted [?], and the other accused have not come because they were not attached. And afterwards came Henry de Ralegh and went bail to hold the said Thomas de Santon on the morrow. And after that came Alexander Crues and made an end for 20/- by the surety of Ralph Ruffus. And after that came William de Ralegh senior and went bail for Henry, the son of Emma and Stephen le Claver, to hold them on Tuesday next.’[4]

A document of 1241 shows that Alexander held land in East Anstey of Oliver de Dinham. East Anstey lies on the fringe of Exmoor, on the Somerset border west of Dunster. The ownership of the estate of Anstey Cruwys became the subject of later disputes lasting over several generations.[5]

Alexander died about 1241-2, leaving the manor to his son Robert.


[1] Margaret Cruwys, A Cruwys Morchard Notebook
[2] T.F.Johns, Crewes of South Cornwall and their ancestors in Liskeard, Cornwall, and Cruwys Morchard, Devon. p.11. [WSL]
[3] Encyclopædia Britannica, 1972 edn., Vol 6, pp.828-33.
[4] A Cruwys Morchard Notebook
[5] M.C.S. Cruwys, Records at Cruwys Morchard. Trans. Dev. Assocn. Vol. 84. 1954, 1-19.




Sampson Tree