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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)




The surname Denebaud is thought to derive from the Old English name Denebeald.[1] This is formed from two elements meaning “Bold Dane”.[2]

In the time of King Alfred, 9th century, the Danelaw was the name given to the north and east of England, where the Danish settlers were most prevalent. But there were also Danes in Wessex.

The Denbow Diaspora (Vol.11. No.1.) says:

 In England the first written versions of the name were…  de Kenebout (1211); de Einebut (1211); Donebol (1212); de Enebaud (1212); Deneblod (1212); Deneboud (1212). By 1226 AD the spelling had stabilized around Denebaud/Denebaut/Deneboud (all pronounced “Denbow”…).  In the 14th century, Denebaud/Deneband were most common, changing to Denbowe in the 1500s and from there to Denbow/ Denboe in the 1600s. According to English experts, the name is definitely Saxon in origin.

Early records use variant spellings of the surname. In 1211, 1212, and 1214 we have Eudoni de Einebut, Eudo de Enebaud, Eudonem de Enebaut, Eudonem Deneblod, and Eudo Denebaud.. All are listed in the index under “Denbow”.

The family newsletter The Denbow Diaspora says: [3]

“In some cases, early scribes insisted on putting a de in front of our name (sometimes also as de Denebald and de Deneband) which should not occur in Old English personal names, de being used exclusively before a name derived from a place name. Such errors were apparently common up to the end of the 13th century and Fagersten, in his Place-Names of Dorset (p. 98) calls this “a mere blunder” in the case of the Denbow name.

“Does the name Eudo hold any clues to our origin? In the Oxford Dictionary of English Christian Names by E.G. Withycombe one finds this name as coming from Old German Eutha . It is also related to Old Norse jøˆdh meaning ‘child.’ The name was introduced into England by the Normans and appears as well in Old French as Eudes and Eudon. Since early English documents were written in a form of Latin, however, the name also appeared as Eudo.


The family has early connections with Denbow Farm, in the parish of Farringdon, in level farmland 5 miles east of Exeter.

‘Denbow Farm’ is marked on even the oldest maps, and dates from the 12th Century. Part of this cottage was the original Denbow Farm, but is now called Denbow Thatch, and has recently been much restored and extended. These buildings face ‘Denbow Wood’, which is alongside the lane that leads to Denbow crossroads.[4]

The Denebauds were there at least as early as 1386, and probably long before that. The present Denbow House is 17th century. The older buildings to which it is attached  have been dated as 15th or 16th century, no doubt replacing much earlier ones.

Nick Denbow says:

“Denbow Thatch is built on the original dwelling on the site. Holbrook Farm, one mile to the West, was mentioned in the Domesday Book of year 1086, when King William I (William the Conqueror, a Norman invader from France ) listed all the land, buildings and people in England that he had conquered, and allocated to his supporters. Denbow itself was probably a cowherd’s dwelling, one room downstairs, one room upstairs, wooden frame, cob walls, and thatched roof, next to the cow barn and dairy. If it were not a separate farm at this time, it would have been a subdivision of Holbrook Farm. The picture shows the barn on the left, which is now turned into a living room below and two bedrooms above. On the right, the original “dwelling”, has beams in the loft that show traces of the smoke from the open fire downstairs in the kitchen/living room as was. The dairy, with its well, is now converted to another bedroom. “ [5]

Denbow Thatch

Eudo, Philip and William Denebaud are mentioned early in the 13th century.[6] Other Denebauds appear in the Curia Regis Rolls, the Close Rolls and the Patent Rolls. These were documents sent out by the king. Close Rolls were sealed. Patent Rolls were open, but had a seal attached.

The Denbow newsletter also tells us:

The story begins in the reign of Richard I (Lion Heart) who ruled from1180-1199. A man named Radulfus Denebaud died at this time. In the year 1211Radulfus’ son, Eudo Deneboud, began a series of disputes over the rights to tenancy and obligations to pay taxes (a quarter of a knight’s fee, or the amount needed to support a knight in armor for a year). This property was in a place called Middleton, Somerset Co. in southern England. Disputes were still being heard in l220 because it would appear that heirs were liable for the debts of their deceased elders and relatives.

“To get a flavor for the times, let’s peek in on the conclusion of this affair:


Curia Regis Roll, 72. Hilary term. 4

Henry III. Somerset, year 1220.

“The court convened to determine if Radulfus Denebaud the uncle of Robert Denebaud was in legal possession of his tenancy as regards the fee for the farm estate at Middleton with appurtenances on the day he died, [over 20 years earlier during the reign of Richard I]. This being land which Alfred de Bendevill holds. He came and said that the court ought not to be held on this matter since a final agreement had been made between Alfred de Bendevill, the father of Alfred himself, and Eudo Denebaud about this same piece of land [as reported in Curia Regis Rolls 58, for the year 1214]. Then he showed the deed which stated that the same Eudo the tenant recognized that the land was legally that of Alfred himself and he returned it to him and sought waiving of claims for himself and for his heirs from Alfred himself, etc. for 10 marks [about 6 Pounds]; whence it seems to him that the court ought not to have been held about this matter.

And Robert said that deed ought not to work against him to keep the court from proceeding since he himself at that time was in Scotland [Pictavia]; and furthermore he himself claimed nothing on behalf of the afore-mentioned Eudo. And he produced a sufficient body of witnesses that he had then been in Scotland, namely at a place called Roche Armoines.”’

Radulfus and Eudo were certainly related to our earliest known Denebaud ancestor, Philip. But whether they were father and brother, uncle and cousin, or great-uncle and uncle, is not clear.

In John Burke and John Bernard Burke’s  Encyclopaedia of Heraldry or General Armory of England, Scotland, and Ireland, this description is given: “Denbaud, or Denband. Azure on a chief argent, a lion rampant, issuant gules.


[1] P.H. Reaney, A Dictionary of British Surnames (1958), p.93.
[2] Bo Selten, The Anglo-Saxon Heritage in Middle English Personal Names, 1100-1399,  p.73
[3] The Denbow Diaspora, Vol. 11. No. 2, Dec 2004.
[4] The Denbow Diaspora, Vol. 11. No. 2, Dec 2004. Photograph: Nick Denbow.
[5] The Denbow Diaspora, Vol. 5. No. 2.
[6] Reaney.




Sampson Tree