Charlotte image

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



WILLIAM DE FERRERS. In the church of St Andrew at Bere Ferrers you will find an effigy and stained glass windows of Sir William de Ferrers and his wife Isolde. But a larger memorial to him is the church itself.


 William was the child of Reginald Ferrers of Bere Ferrrers at the confluence of the rivers Tavy and Tamar in SW Devon. He was born around 1225, in the reign of Henry III.

He had a younger brother Reginald, who became the first Arch-Presbyter of William’s new church.


William married first Matilda of de Champernoun, Lady of Otterham, the daughter of Oliver de Champernowne and Eva Andea. Otterham is in Cornwall, halfway between Launceston and Tintagel.

It is probable that this marriage bore two daughters, Matilda and Joan.


There had been a Saxon church in Bere before the Norman Conquest. It stood on the bank of the River Tavy. As they usually did, the Normans pulled this down and built another in the Norman style. This was the church William grew up with. But when he became lord of Bere Ferrers he rebuilt this earlier church in a grander style, around 1243.

St Andrew’s, Bere Ferrers [1]


He also founded an Arch Presbytery presided over by an Arch Priest, who was supported by four priests and a deacon. The Arch Priest’s duty, and that of his priests and choir boys, was to pray for the souls of Sir William and his wife, Matilda , and later Isolde, any time, day or night, for eternity. Also for the souls of William’s parents, Reginald de Ferrers and his wife Margery, and the souls of Sir Roger de Carminow, Knt., and his lady Joan, who may be Matilda’s parents. This meant that mass was perpetually being said at one of the five altars in the church.

Land would have been set aside to provide the necessary income.

The clergy lived in the Presbytery across the road from the church, a site which in modern times became the Lanterna Hotel.  It is said that a tunnel runs from the church to the Lanterna.

The Presbytery was dissolved by Henry VIII, but the present Rector of St Andrews retains the title of Arch Priest, though with few of the privileges of his predecessor.

The first rector was William’s younger brother, Reginald de Ferrers, who was installed in 1258.

In the new church of St Andrew, William installed an effigy of his father Reginald de Ferrers, in his knight’s armour.


Matilda senior died before 1259.

William married secondly Isolde de Cardinham, the daughter and heir of Andrew de Cardinham & Bodardle.


 ISOLDE DE CARDINHAM.  Isolde came from a higher social status than William. Her father was Andrew de Cardinham, one of the foremost barons in Cornwall.

Her mother is called Ela in the most reliable sources. Other trees name her as Eleanor de Ferrers. Since Isolde married William de Ferrers, this latter identification should be viewed with caution.

She was born around 1235.

She had a brother and a sister.

It is likely that Isolde was born and grew up at Penhallam Manor, near Jacobstowe, three miles inland from the Atlantic coast of Cornwall and 11 miles NW of Launceston. This was a moated manor house that her father built to replace the earthwork castle at nearby Week St Mary. It was abandoned soon after her lifetime and the floor plan of the medieval manor can still be seen today, unaltered by later generations.

She first married Thomas de Tracy.

Her father died in 1252-4, leaving her brother Hugh as his principal heir. But by 1259 Hugh had also died, leaving no issue. It would appear that her sister had also died.  Isolde was left as the sole heiress of the Cardinham estates. These included Restormel Castle.

Soon after, in 1264, the Second Barons War broke out. Simon de Montfort led a number of barons against King Henry III, demanding that the king rule through a council of barons, rather than through his favourites.

Simon de Montfort briefly seized Restormel Castle in 1265, but it reverted to Isolde and Thomas Tracy when he was killed in battle later that year.

Sometime around this time, Thomas died.

In 1268 the widowed Isolde granted to her overlord Richard, Earl of Cornwall, the castle of Restormel and thefishing town of Lostwithiel on the River Fowey. The following year she sold Oliver de Dinham the barony of Cardinham and also Bodardle. She conveyed to Henry de Campernulf Tywardreath and Ludgyan

It is not clear why she granted away so many of these prestigious properties. Perhaps she and Thomas had backed the losing side of de Montfort in the Barons War and this was her punishment. Or as a widow, she found it hard to resist the ambitions of more powerful Cornish families.

By 1269 she had married William de Ferrers.

There is evidence of further alienations of her property by 1275.


They had three known children: Reginald, ANDand Roger.


William died around 1279, in the early years of Edward I’s reign.

Isolde outlived him by more than twenty years. She died in 1301, aged 66.

The tomb of this couple is on the north side of the chancel. Their recumbent figures lie beneath an arch highly ornamented and carved, with angels swinging censers, angels’ faces, foliage, etc. William is arrayed in chain armour, with a coiffe de maille drawn tightly over his head. His legs are crossed, but are very much mutilated; there is a shield on his left arm suspended by a belt across the right shoulder; both hands rest on his sword, the scabbard of which is missing. Isolde has a coverchief on her head and hanging down the back of her neck; it is confined by a fillet round her forehead; her throat, chin, and the sides of her face are covered with a wimple, the bodice of her dress is tight-fitting with a long flowing skirt. Her hands, which rest on her breast, and her feet, have been broken off.

William and Isolde de Ferrers [2]

St Andrew’s has some fine medieval glass, which survived the Reformation and the Civil War. In the east chancel window is some of this ancient stained glass. The figures represent the occupiers of the tomb beneath. The male figure holds a church in his hands, and over his head is the inscription:- Wills Fereys me fecit. Another shows Isolde, kneeling in prayer.

William de Ferrers with his church and Isolde de Ferrers [3] 


Near the altar below is a small brass plaque commemorating the antiquarian Charles Stothard. In 1821 he was up a ladder, sketching these windows, when a rung broke and he fell to his death, striking his head on a monumental effigy beside the altar. He had a note in his pocket from his wife, admonishing him ‘Take care not to fall from high places’.


[1] Flickr
[2] https://www.wissensdrang.com/stabb/stabb014b.jpg
[3] The Online Stained Glass Photographic Archive. Bere Ferrers. St Andrew.





Sampson Tree