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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



The name de Boys, or de Bosco, comes from the Old French del bois. It means a dweller in or by a wood.

There are early instances of the name in many parts of the country, but we are concerned with the Devon branch, which is centred on Halberton, a village between Tiverton and Cullompton in east Devon.

A family tree of John de Boys gives us the following information:[1]

“The manor of Halberton Boys in Halberton parish and Halberton Hundred appears in the Domesday Book as part of Halsbretone, held by King William. It was given by Henry I [William’s son] to his bastard son the Earl of Gloucester, together with other lands in Devon which had belonged to Queen Matilda [William’s wife]. After 1135 [when Henry I died] one part of the manor, half a [knight’s] fee, went to William de Bosco or Boys, and another part, also half a fee, including Chieflowman, went to Gregory de Turri, the latter forming the manor of Halberton Deane. In 1285 the Boys or Bosco family held the manor from the Earl of Gloucester. The last member of the family, John de Bosco, left it to his daughter Alice, wife of Henry de Burton, from whom it passed to William Paulett, who held it in 1428.”

Not all of the accompanying family tree is accurate, but this information from Devon seems well researched.


Magna Britannia: Devoshire has the following:

“The manor of Halberton, which had been part of the royal demesne, was the property of the ancient family of De Bosco, or Boys, who resided here from the reign of Henry II [1154-1189] to that of Edward II [1307-1327]. The heiress of the seventh in descent married Henry Burton, whose daughter brought it to the ancestor of Earl Pawlet.”.[2]


Sir William Pole gives us the following succession, with the last William being the elder brother of John:[3]

“The mannor of Halberton hath bin longe ye land & dwelling of the family of Boys, or de Bosco. Raph de Bosco was in Kinge Henry 2 tyme; whom successively have followed, William, William 2, Sir William de Bosco, Kt., 3, William 4, William 5, William 6 & John Boys, ye last of ye family, had issue Alis, wyfe of Henry Burton, whose daughter Margaret was married unto Thomas Powlet, of Beere in Somersetshire, and Legh Powlet in Devonshire.”

We have found no references elsewhere to Raph de Bosco, but Pole mentions him three times, so he presumably had access to documents that named him.

If Raph is dated to the reign of Henry II [1154-1189] then he could be the son of the original William de Boys, who lived in the early 12th century.

Pole also tells us:

Raph de Bosco, or Boys, of Halberton, in Kinge Henrye 2 tyme, his name contynewed there unto thend of Kinge Edward 3 raigne… Theire were other families of the name of Boys; but noe gentlemen of ye name in Devon doth remayne. The name of Woode was antiently written Bosco., of wch theire are remaining several families.”

“Winkley. The honor of Glocester spred itself into many shires of England, but I take it that Winkley was the principall place in this county…. Raph de Bosco holdeth half a fee.”


Between 1138 and 1153 England had been ravaged by the civil war known as the Anarchy, when Henry I’s daughter Matilda, whom he had declared to be his heir, fought her cousin Stephen de Blois, who also claimed the throne. Stephen won the war, but, after his own eldest son died, agreed that Matilda’s son Henry should take the throne after him. Stephen died in 1154 and Henry II became the next king.

His reign was chiefly known for the murder of Archbishop Thomas a Becket in Canterbury Cathedral in 1170. This event shocked the nation, and Canterbury became a major centre of pilgrimage.


It would have been around Raph’s time that William FitzRobert gave the Church of Halberton, with other land, to the Abbey of St Augustine in Bristol. Augustinian monks arrived in the village and set up the priory of St Jude’s. The cob building now on the site is no earlier than the 15th century.


One of the many hamlets in Halberton parish is Chieflowman, earlier known as Child Loman. Sir William Pole tells us:

“Child Lomen, sometyme belonging unto…  Boys of Halberton, and given unto ye priory of Canon Legh, and unto thabbaye of St Awstin’s, in Bristoll.”

Much of present St Andrew’s church dates from the late 14th or 15th century, but it is thought to have been built on the site of a Saxon church, which was then replaced by a Norman one. The font has been dated to about 1180. This would be in Raph’s lifetime or that of his son William.

At this time the church was served by monks from the priory.

Norman font, St Andrew’s, Halberton[4]

Around 1209, the time when Raph’s son William was probably lord of the manor, William de Bosco witnessed a grant by William de Bineshele to Baldwin de la Pitta concerning land in Crediton.[5]


We do not have dates for William’s son, also William. He would have held the manor in the early 13th century.

We pick up the story in more detail with his grandson, Sir William de Boys, who was in possession of the manor in 1242-3.


Coat of Arms: Boys, of Halberton, Argent, a chevron Geules, between 3 okes Vert.


[1] L’Ascendance Terlinden-de Potesta’s Family Tree. John de Boys.
[2] Daniel Lysons and Samuel Lysons, ‘Parishes: Haccombe – Hittesleigh’, in Magna Britannia: Volume 6, Devonshire (London, 1822), pp. 250-272. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/magna-britannia/vol6/pp250-272 [accessed 9 November 2022]. Halberton.
[3] Sir William Pole (d.1635), Collections Towards a Description  of the County of Devon,(1791).
[4] See Around Britain. St Andrew’s Church, Halberton
[5] National Arhcives: Z1/10/2





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